Fellow Author, Katie Ganshert is about to release a novel called “Wildflowers From Winter.” Her desire with the theme of that book is to spread hope through a story that shows even when we go through trials, God is real and redemptive.
That seriously is the theme of my whole life. I always say Romans 8:28 is one of my benchmark verses, having watched many times as God has redeemed things for me even in the midst of or after a difficult trial.
You can check out her book at:
and her blog at:
While Katie’s book is a novel, she’s collecting real life stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of trials and asking us to post them on our blogs. To support her cause, I wanted to post a blog from my own life of when God used difficult circumstances for my good.
The following is a story from my new book, “Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting,” of a time when God used some trials to shape and mold me. This was written when I was single and waiting (and waiting and waiting). Feel free to post comments about your own stories, a time in your life when you feel God used a trial for your good (or for the good of someone you know.) You may just encourage someone today! And I encourage you to visit her blog, where starting on May 4, you’ll be able to find links to many other encouraging stories.
Answer the question below my story by replying to this blog, and you can be entered into a free drawing to win a free copy of Katie’s book.
The Ultimate Gift
God is an amazing writer. I declare this with confidence because I’ve watched the writing He has done in the non-love-story part of my life. He’s allowed me to live in many stories, playing important roles. In these, He’s proven what a dynamite writer He is. Today, I can’t give personal testimony of the love story God is writing for me. I want to share a time when God wrote a beautiful story for me to live in, testifying to the incredible role God’s pen has played in my life.
In 2003, when God reminded me of the promise that I would one day get married, He also made another promise: He would open a huge door for me in my profession. He told me I would get a job writing a movie based on a book, and the job would come from Charlotte, North Carolina. There was even a description of the book: it would have a dark chocolate cover with embossed lettering. The person prophetically praying over me said she felt God would bless me with this job when I was in Charlotte on a free trip.
It just so happened that about six months later, I had a trip planned to Charlotte and had already ordered my ticket with frequent flier miles. So, I wondered what was going to happen on that trip. Would I somehow land a job writing a movie? It sure sounded like it. There was one piece of information that stood out. She said a chapel would mean something to me during that trip. I used to live in Charlotte; I never spent time in chapels there.
In November 2003, a book showed up on my doorstep, mailed to me from Charlotte, North Carolina, by a producer I had worked with on some books and audio dramas I co-wrote with Frank Peretti. The book was titled The Ultimate Gift, written by Jim Stovall. Its dark chocolate cover had raised lettering. The producer enclosed a note, saying he wanted me to pitch for the job of adapting this book into a movie. Naturally, I recognized that this was likely the project God was referring to; the pieces fit. The book arrived in time for my “free trip”—I’d be going to Charlotte in a month and would have a meeting with the producer.
However, this book came during one of the darkest seasons of my life. I was still extraordinarily depressed from the end of the relationship I thought was heading toward marriage. Writing was the last thing I felt like doing. I didn’t have creativity and inspiration in me. To be honest, writing that pitch was tough. Around the deadline, the production company asked for my submission to put me in the running with the other writers. I turned in a work that I didn’t like; I had to. I felt like God wanted me to have this job because of the prophetic words, but in my dry state, I almost didn’t even want it.
I went to Charlotte for Christmas. I met with the producer, and he said they liked some things about my work but weren’t ready to hire a writer yet. I left town—and that free trip—without the prophetically promised scriptwriting job. Also, I didn’t spend any time in a chapel.
The experience was disillusioning. I couldn’t figure out what happened. I thought maybe God talked about this blessing, but I had blown it by being such an emotional mess. January 2004 ended up being the darkest month of my life. After that time, I just let it go. I assumed something messed it up—me! The next nine months were filled with trials and challenges. God seemed to be working on me overtime. It was incredibly hard, and yet, also necessary.
In September 2004, I received a call no daughter wants to hear: my father was in the hospital having heart problems. He had just turned sixty years old—too young for this. The doctors insisted he have open-heart surgery, a quintuple bypass operation. My schedule was unusually clear. In fact, I was in need of employment. So when my parents offered to fly me home on one of their free tickets, I immediately jumped on a plane to Charlotte.
The producer of The Ultimate Gift found out I was in town through a prayer request email I sent out to my address book about my dad’s surgery. He asked me to come in for a meeting. I almost didn’t go because I wanted to spend every moment with my dad, but I felt like I should at least try. In fact, I prayed on my way to the meeting: “Lord, are You trying to bless me, and I’m being resistant?”
The time for blessing had come, even though I thought the job was gone because of my lack of creativity nine months earlier. That day, I walked out of that office with the job to write the movie version of The Ultimate Gift. It was a God-ordained gift that was such a surprise. God’s timing was perfect.
On my drive back from the meeting, the fulfillment to all the prophecies hit me like a flood. I ran through all of them in my mind: the job writing a movie, coming out of Charlotte, the book description, the free trip, and this time:
My mother and I spent time praying for my father in the hospital chapel during his surgery. Suddenly, it was all clear. There hadn’t been a mistake last December. I assumed something was going to happen before the right time. The time had come, and God showed up in mighty ways to give me His promised blessing.
I couldn’t have written this story the way God did. I was living it. The inspiration followed because the right time had come. I had a completely different perspective on the story. I was now inspired to write it. The hospital chapel scene between two of the lead characters, Jason and Emily, was inspired by my time in that chapel.
When I reread the book, I noticed something remarkable. During the time God made me wait to get the job, He took me through many of the lessons the character in the book went through. In fact, He dragged me—sometimes kicking and screaming—through eleven of the twelve gifts outlined in that story.
One of the dominant themes of the book is “The Gift of a Day” and how precious life is. Having just walked through the possible death of my father one month before getting this job changed me as a human being. Never before had that gift meant so much to me as it did during the end of that free trip to Charlotte.
Now, here’s where it gets ironic. God took me through eleven of the twelve gifts, to grow me up in Him, but what about the twelfth gift? It was “The Gift of Love”—the gift I clearly had been asking God to give me for so long. I playfully moaned, “God, You forgot one! You gave me all the trials, but You forgot the guy ends up with the gift of love. So get busy!” God didn’t need my reminder, but I gave it to Him anyway. I know God appreciates my persistence! Ever heard of the parable of the persistent widow? See Luke 18.
There was one trial I added to the lead character’s life that wasn’t in the original book. One day, without any warning, all of his possessions are taken away. Just two weeks after I turned in the script with that additional story, I lost almost everything I owned because of toxic mold. When I noticed the parallel between my life and Jason’s, I looked up at the sky and said, “Lord, could we not have chosen a different trial for Jason to go through?”
One of the most difficult parts of that trial was that I went through it predominantly alone. I had no guy in my life. I had to do most of the heavy lifting by myself, the moving, throwing everything away, finding a new home. It was a nightmare—for a season of time. It’s one thing to lose furniture and clothes. It’s another to lose journals, personally written stories, photos, scrapbooks, and other keepsakes. I had to get rid of every piece of paper or porous object.
As much of a nightmare as it was at the time, I always knew God was with me. I knew He was watching the situation. I knew He cared. The fact that He had me write about such a trial, just weeks earlier, was an odd source of comfort. I also appreciated the order God chose for my crises. I would have given up everything I owned for my father to live. God had already carried me through that trial and helped my father recover. So, could I be upset when, just a few months later, He allowed me to lose almost all my possessions?
I wanted to share this story with you because it shows how intimately involved God is. He let me know this scriptwriting job was coming. He left out many details, but that’s life. I got to live the story with Him holding my hand through every unpredictable scene and plot twist! I had no idea, when He first made the promise to me about the job, that the chapel reference would have anything to do with my father needing open-heart surgery. I will say, once I realized what it meant, it was comforting. It showed me how much God cares about details. It’s like He has my life planned out, if only I’ll follow the script He puts before me. Sometimes I go off-script and my freewill gets in His way.
I find that when He allows me to go through pain, I am able to use it in my writing to help other people. I hope you find ways to use what you’ve been through for others as well. You don’t have to be a writer to use it!
A year after getting the job to pen the script, I got to visit the set for two weeks while The Ultimate Gift was filming. I even got to cast my parents in a hospital scene as extras. It was a poignant moment for me, being able to watch my dad see one of my biggest dreams come true.
God is an amazing writer, especially when we just let Him write—when we don’t wrestle Him to the ground trying to get our pens back.
Do you have any stories like this from your life? Do you have times when you know God wrote an amazing story just for you? Or can you think of a time God used a trial for your good?
Reply below to be entered into the drawing for a free copy of Katie’s book. If you can’t think of something from your own life that you want to share, post the name of a “life story” you’ve read or know of that you feel demonstrates that God works “all things together for good” even if it started out as a painful or difficult journey for that person.