Zorba the Greek & Me: An Answer to Prayer

A year ago I finished my first adult novel, a blend of realistic fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi entitled Angels & Aliens. Ever since then I’ve been trying to get it published, sending it everywhere I can think of and getting one rejection after another. I’ve been very patient throughout this process, thinking it was only a matter of time. But finally one day I lost patience and began complaining bitterly to God. 

“Lord,” I prayed, “what’s going on? The whole time I was writing this book I felt Your inspiration and energy. But as soon as it was finished You dropped the ball, and You haven’t lifted one blessed finger to help me get it published. Why have You deserted me?” 

And so on. After complaining for a while, I finally settled down and I said, “Alright, then, have it Your way and keep me in the dark. But please, will You just tell me one thing? Just one. Should I keep on beating the bushes trying to find a publisher, or should I wait until You give me specific direction?” 

All along in this abortive publishing process I hadn’t received any direction from the Lord. It was all just hit-and-miss and He hadn’t told me anything. So when I prayed this last prayer, I figured that it too would go unanswered and I’d be left to myself. 

Surprise! About half an hour later the Lord clearly answered my question. I happened to be reading Isaiah 30, and I came to this famous and wonderful verse: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (v 15). 

That seemed to be the beginning of an answer. But then, just a couple of verses later, these words really jumped off the page: 

The Lord longs to be gracious to you,
    He rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for Him!

Here, plain as plain, was the answer to my question: Wait for the Lord. Immediately I was filled with peace, and ever since then I’ve stopped trying to get my book published, and I’m perfectly satisfied just to wait. For how long? The answer to that question is in an old gospel hymn: “God may not come when we want Him, but He’s always right on time.” Maybe my book will never be published, or maybe the Lord will do something. But it’s out of my hands, and all the weight of it is off my mind. 

Yes, I spent seven years writing this thing, and I think it’s fantastic. But so what? Life goes on. I’m reminded of one of my favorite movie scenes, from Zorba the Greek. Zorba and his friend have spent all their money and oodles of time and energy building a fantastic wooden structure to bring logs down from a mountain to the sea where they can be easily shipped out from the harbor. The scheme will make them a fortune! At last the day comes for testing their marvelous engineering feat. But as the first logs come down the chute, the whole thing collapses in a cloud of dust and rubble. 

Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates in “Zorba the Greek”

This is the end of the movie. Except it’s not quite the end, because at that point, instead of crying the blues, Zorba and his friend link arms and dance a joyous syrtaki (a Greek folkdance) on the beach, to that famous balalaika tune you probably know. It’s one of the greatest, happiest film endings I know. 

Yes, no matter where you are or what your losses, life goes on and there is always so much more to enjoy and celebrate. 

Next Post:  The Bible’s Other Beatitudes

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