Back in the early days of my publishing career, my only books were from WhiteFire. Which is, of course, our company. This meant that in those first years, I knew of pretty much each sale. Individually. I could track my every effort to know which ones were working. Half the time, the sales of paperbacks came through our store--which means I packed them up myself. I signed them. I put them in the envelope. I sealed that envelope with packing tape and put on the label.
I prayed over each one I sent out. Because I knew that every person to read my book was trusting me. They were giving me the gift of a few hours of their time--and in return, I prayed that God would minister to them some way, somehow, through my words.
These days, I don't have that. And while I'm very, very grateful to be selling more books than I can pack up in my kitchen (very, very grateful!) . . . there was something about those early days. There was something about putting my hands on every copy of my book and pausing to think and pray about the person who would be reading it.
There was something about it that made me very aware. Aware of each person.
People I've never met. People whose names I never would have known had they not put an order in. People who were, in some ways, nothing to me.
People who are everything to God.
How often do we really stop to think about how precious strangers are to Him? I began thinking about this last night because my church was having a Skype call with a fellow from our denomination involved in church planting. We were gathering information so we can help by being a sponsor church to a new plant--much like our sponsor church had helped us not so long ago. And as we were talking, this theme kept peeking out.
That spreading the incredible message of our Savior isn't about making the deal or closing the sale. It's about giving. It's about serving. It's about relationship.
It's about each one. Each person who hears of Him through us. It's about what our amazing God wants to do in their life and how He lets us help.
Reaching out to others for Him is a responsibility. It's an imperative that Jesus issued in that Great Commission as one of His last acts on earth. But it's also an honor.
Does it feel like it to you? It doesn't always to me. More often, I'm not even thinking about it. I'm just plodding along, doing what I do.
But then I have to stop. And I have to remember those early days of packing up books. Sometimes that felt like drudgery too, until I shook off that and realized that this was something special. This was the fulfillment of a dream. This was people giving me hard-earned money for my stories. This was people inviting my words into their home, into their heart. That, friends, is something far more than plodding along, just as serving Him in other ways should be.
So, my newest challenge to myself--to remember that Each One is important. Each One who reads my books . . . who hears me play the piano at church . . . who reads my blog or sees me on Facebook. Each One whose name I don't even know or can't remember. Each One who needs Him. Each One who knows Him and loves Him. Each One.
Each One is someone to Him.