The editor. He takes the work that an author has written and scans it closely. His job is not only to look for grammatical mistakes but to find unnecessary words and phrases and get rid of them. He cuts, shaves, dices and carves until he leaves behind only that which will clearly communicate the intended message of the book.
The editor is the writer’s friend and foe. Partner and nemesis. Comrade and enemy. The relationship is one filled with bitter- sweet mountains and valleys as the two work together to accomplish the desired end.
I know this unpredictable rapport all too well.
The initial stage of my writing project includes a meeting with the editor. Upon reviewing other resources that he has helped to make successful, I agree that his judgment in the editorial process is trustworthy and decide to entrust him with the finished product of my writing. We enter, amicable, into a partnership in which I give him custody of the final product.
I spend weeks and months researching and putting pen to paper. I do my best to record truths that will touch the reader’s heart and bring the Biblical text to life. When I send in the final manuscript I breath a sigh of relief as I excitedly wait to hear my editor’s response. I anticipate that he will be just as pleased as I am. I imagine that he will look at the prose that I have constructed and nod in approval, celebrating my writing ability and the amount of work I have saved him. Yet this dream has not yet become my reality. Inevitably, the editor, once my friend, emails me back with three words that always leave a frown on my face:
It’s. Too. Long.
Thus, he begins the work of formatting my manuscript – my manuscript – into a usable format. He finds unnecessary and unimportant verbiage to cut and shave until the book reaches a more suitable length. When I get the edited version back, I am appalled. I can’t believe that he has taken so much of what I have done and toss it away. In my opinion, everything – every single word I’d written – was critical to the power of the book. In fact, most of what He has done away with I considered to be the most important.
A quick glance over each page brings renewed disgust as I grasp the full extent of what he has done. In my opinion, the masterpiece that I have composed has been destroyed. All of the good stuff has been taken out. A phone call to his office crescendos with straightforward opinions being quickly confessed concerning his work. Calmly he listens and then explains with the authority that can only come from one who has mastered his job: “If the manuscript is too full and long it will lose the reader’s attention and thus its usefulness. Cutting it down will add to its value. Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”
Hesitantly, I submit.
The Divine Editor. He takes the life work we have written and scans it closely. His job is not only to look for the errors that He wants to blot out with the eraser of grace but to find unnecessary additions – hindrances to His purposes – and help you see how unnecessary they really are. He knows that the edited version of life is the one that will be most useful. And so, He cuts, shaves, dices and carves until he leaves behind only that which will clearly communicate the message that He purposed for this life-book to relay.
We’ve spent weeks, months and years determining how our lives will look. The design that we have constructed is set on desires and plans that we are certain will ensure our happiness. We have written our own narratives complete with a storybook ending. We’ve included the details on education, family, friends, finances and ministry involvement. We complete our research and send the final manuscript in to the Editor; not really seeking His advice, just approval and blessing. We’ve met Him before and have agreed that He is trustworthy. We’ve seen His work on other life-projects and have been pleased with the results. We expect that He will see what we have in mind, sit back in His editorial seat, nod in approval and send back our manuscript with little more than one or two corrections.
Yet the edited manuscript returns to us and we stand shocked as we glare at the mess that has been made. From start to finish nothing looks the same. The title has been changed. He calls it:Life: The Edited Version. This new, shortened take on the topic of our existence doesn’t in any way resemble what we originally turned in. From all initial glances, our book has been ruined. The shock doesn’t set in fully until we start reviewing the chapters we wrote on relationships. The Editor has suggested the cutting away of many associations that we thought were necessary to our fulfillment. The chapter on ministry activity has proven to be over-crowded as well. He has adjusted it to include must more time of solitude, stillness and silence. The plans for finances and family have been revamped and reformatted. His rewritten text shows that our loved ones can be comfortable with much less extravagance then we ever anticipated. Most of the thesis’ of our chapters have been changed. His priorities have now been written in.
Over and over again, we find inconsistencies with what we had in mind for the story of our lives. We argue in heated debate and rebellion against the work of the Expert. Then we hear the calming voice of One having authority say, “If the manuscript is too full, it will lose its usefulness. You cannot do a thousand things well. Trust Me. I know what I’m doing.”
He cuts. We frown. He deletes. We squirm. He molds. We object. Finally . . . hesitantly . . . we trust and submit.
The book of our lives is printed, bound and duplicated for others to read. We are amazed at the results. We never knew that less could really amount to so much more.
*Breathe: Making Room for Sabbath – a unique, Bible study experience on creating margin in your life – is now available.