Every step of this novel journey has taught me a lesson. Pre-pub ordering is no different. Refuge just became available for sale on numerous websites (see sidebar, if you’re not on a cell phone). This is exhilarating, mind boggling, and terrifying all at the same time! This emotional response stems largely from some preconceived ideas I had about publishing and task completion.
I used to think that a book for sale meant it was finished, sitting somewhere, and ready to ship. Even if it was a pre-pub order, I thought, surely, it was already printed, packaged, and waiting. I imagined stacks of cardboard boxes in warehouses, emitting a cozy new-book fragrance.
But things are changing.
With print-on-demand technology, paperback books can now be printed when the customer orders, one book at a time. Many publishing houses skip the expense of printing in hardback, making it less risky for them to take new authors. Now, when you order a book, it can look like this: You order, it prints, it ships, and you receive the book, all in about a week. For e-books, the process is instantaneous. It’s a revolution, like in the days of Gutenberg’s press.
Pre-publication orders for my novel are now being taken. It’s available now and not yet. The release date is February 1, 2014. We’re still editing. The final product is not ready. My novel is not sitting somewhere in a box. It’s still being polished. However, at the same time, there it is on the cyber “shelf,” waiting to be ordered. Sales are taking place. People are placing their orders.
The publisher has so much confidence in my story, my work, and the abilities of his artists, editors, and marketing professionals that he offers the book for sale now, before it’s ready. He does this based on his knowledge of what will be, what transformation will occur to make my manuscript into a work of art, a final product.
In other words, the publishing process is just like the Christian life.
God sees us as we will be, even though the final product is not ready. We’re a mess. We are not complete. In Philippians 3:8-12, as the apostle Paul longed for heaven, he wrote about this now-and-not-yet principle. He listed what he strove toward:
- knowing Christ Jesus his Lord fully
- gaining Christ and being found in him
- growing in Christ’s righteousness
- comprehending the power of his resurrection
- sharing in Christ’s suffering, even becoming like him in death
- attaining the resurrection of the dead
Then he said, “not that I have already obtained this, or am already perfect, but I press on.”
God’s kingdom is right now on this earth—the Holy Spirit changing us from within, transforming our behavior, making us ever more like the Savior—and it is also not yet. The kingdom of God will be realized in all its fullness in the new heaven and new earth.
Jesus went to prepare a place for us when he got up on that cross. It is ready. He already knows the day we will die. It’s as real to him as this moment when we are breathing in and out, fully alive. His presence in us changes us right now. And, in 1 Peter 5:10, he himself promises to “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us” when we get to the other side.
But, like my novel, we are in process. We are now and not yet.
We are already seated in Christ. When God looks at us, even though we keep sinning now, he sees Christ and his blood. We’re already priests to our God. But, here we are, not complete. We’re still being edited and refined. We’re still being shined and polished. Publishing, it turns out, it just like life. This novel journey continues to teach me living lessons that illustrate reality.
How does the now-and-not-yet principle heighten your anticipation of seeing Jesus?