(This is originally from my writing blog, but I wanted to share it here, too)
Sir Hawthorn waited outside the King's chamber. He was nervous, which was unusual. On a normal day while visiting his King, he felt at peace, happy, and in awe to be in the presence of such a King as he had the pleasure of serving. But today... today was different. He had no happy tidings to bring, no questions or requests that needed answering. Today he was only to give an account of the recent quest he had returned from.
"The King will see you now," the page announced. Sir Hawthorn jumped slightly, being drawn out of his reverie rather suddenly. He stood, nodded, straightened his uniform, and followed the page's lead. He tried to calm the nervous butterflies in his stomach, but to no avail. How was one supposed to even prepare for such a task as this?
As he entered his King's chamber, he took a deep breath and kept his eyes on the ground. He could not bring himself to look upon his King's majesty. Not like this.
"Sir Hawthorn! My faithful servant, how are you?" The King exclaimed, coming down from the throne and extending his arms for a warm embrace. Sir Hawthorn ducked his head in a quick salute, but stepped back quickly to evade the embrace.
"My Lord, you will not think so highly of me once you have heard my news," Sir Hawthorn, eyes still lowered, willed his voice not to tremble. He had gotten the first part out. Now to just tell the news.
"What is it, my son? You do not need to fear telling me anything. Come, sit and talk," The King motioned to two chairs by a table. Sir Hawthorn reluctantly followed and took a seat beside his King. He felt ashamed to be sitting so near to Him.
"Now tell me, what is it that troubles you?" the King asked, in a gentle voice.
Sir Hawthorn did his best to keep the tears from rolling down his face, yet one escaped and slowly made a trail down his cheek. "I have failed you, my Lord. Yes, I have failed you," the last words were barely whispered.
"Ah, I see..... I believe I know what you are talking about," the King answered, slowly.
"What? But how could you? I've only just returned," Sir Hawthorn replied, confused.
"Yes, that is so. But I still know. You feel you have failed because your recent quest failed. Is this correct?"
Sir Hawthorn stared at the King for a moment, surprised. "Yes... yes, this is so,"
The King smiled sadly at Sir Hawthorn. "My son, you did not fail me. Not in the way you think. Your quest failed because it was a quest of your own making. I did not send you on the quest and you did not even seek my permission,"
"But I saw a need, Sire, and my desire to serve this need was great!" Sir Hawthorn argued.
"Indeed! I saw it was so. But still, this quest was not of my making and therefore, you feel as if you have failed because your quest did not end as planned."
Sir Hawthorn sat quietly, realizing his King's words were true indeed.
"My son, did you receive my letter for the quest that I would have had you go on?"
"Yes," Sir Hawthorn replied quietly, once again looking at the ground in shame.
"And did you receive them before, or during your own quest?"
"Once before, sire, and once during," Sir Hawthorn replied, beginning to realize where this was going.
"Indeed, it was so. I knew you had gone on a quest of your own. I knew you were thinking of going on this quest before you even went! This was why I sent you the instructions for mine. And when you still left for your own, I sent you instructions once more, in hopes that you would listen and return home."
"But, my Lord, I felt that there was greater need for my quest. That it was more... important."
The King smiled sadly and looked into Sir Hawthorn's eyes. "And that, my son, is where you are very wrong. No quest of mine is too great or too small for the one I have given it to. You need only listen and fulfill that quest as best you are able in order to please me. I cannot make you go on the quests I send you. I do not want to make you. I wish for you to serve me with your whole heart and willingly because you choose to do so,"
"Yes, my Lord," Sir Hawthorn replied. "But the fact remains, that I *have* failed you,"
"Nay, that is not so. My quest is still standing. It still needs to be done. And there is time to complete it."
"But, my Lord.... I feel.. I feel as if I am not able to complete it. Not without your help,"
The King smiled and took Sir Hawthorn's hand. "And my help I will certainly give you, my son. You need only ask and I shall be by your side,"
Sir Hawthorn smiled and bowed his head, "Then I have only to receive Your instructions once again, my Lord, and I shall go on Your quest."
Have you ever felt like you 'failed' the Lord? Like He had given you a task to do, but somehow that task got lost among the many other 'bigger' things you could be doing?
I know I've had it. Many, many times. In fact, I had it just recently. The sense of failure. The knowing that I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing.
See, as a writer, we sometimes get stuck in this sense of 'must be doing, must be doing'. And we're finding out what the most popular genre is at the moment so we can write some epic and amazing novel to put out there on the shelves of millions of book stores around the world. We start losing track of what our main goal is.
My most recent one was NaNoWriMo. I've written before about why I love this contest, so I won't repeat it again. But I was ready to participate and win and write a novel that I would publish and would become New York's Best seller, etc, etc, etc. But I had something missing in my plan. A really big thing; God. I didn't have God in any of these plans. Sure I sort of halfheartedly prayed that God would give me inspiration and guidance on how to write this novel, but I wasn't focused on serving Him in it. I was focused on serving myself. I was tired of only being known as a 'children's author'. I wanted to write something my friends would read and actually enjoy. I wanted to write something that would become popular and talked about. I, I, I, I..... it's all about self.
So one evening, while driving home from work, I turned on the radio and heard a song. I don't remember what it was called or who it was by. But I do remember this... it was talking about "less of me, more of You, that who I want to be,". And the words struck a chord in my heart as I realized, "Lord, I have failed you. You gave me a task. A task that I thought was too small and not big enough. I got caught up in what the World thought of me instead of seeking You on a daily basis,". I started crying. Because you know what? This wasn't the first time I'd made that mistake. No, sir. I wish it was, but it wasn't.
As I cried, asking the Lord for forgiveness. And as I prayed, He said to me, "You haven't failed. Do the task that I already gave you and seek Me on it."
And so, feeling renewed again to go about my task, I began afresh. And isn't that wonderful that we can do that? That the Lord's mercies are new EVERY morning? It's beautiful and humbling.
So I 'failed' NaNoWriMo. I didn't get in a word count. I didn't get very far in my story. But I learned something far more valuable from it than I could have ever learned on my own. I may never come out with some big novel that hits the top 10 in book stores. Yet I will have something far better because it is the task, the quest that the Lord has given to me. And it is my honor to complete it, despite what others say, despite what I think, and despite the nagging that Satan gives me to tempt me to do something else.
And I have a feeling that this time, with the Lord by my side on His quest, I won't fail.