I’m currently going through Michael Shaara’s book The Killer Angels, an engaging account of the United States Civil War Battle of Gettysburg from the point of view of several commanding officers. As the book’s foreword describes, Shaara’s one goal above all others was to leave something behind, something to be remembered for. Unfortunately, the book had only a lukewarm reception, and even after winning the 1975 Pulitzer Price for Fiction it simply didn’t sell. This was a crushing disappointment for him, and Shaara died in 1988 believing he had failed. But you have to hear the rest of the story. In 1993 the movie Gettysburg was released, which was based on his book. The momentum from the movie propelled The Killer Angels to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List, and it is regarded by many as the finest Civil War novel ever written.
As I reflected on this, it made me think how similar this is to our everyday reality. We long to leave a legacy of significance, to do something great for ourselves or for God’s Kingdom. But often, we don’t see the fruit we expected, or things don’t turn out anything like what we had hoped for. We feel like failures. If only we could read the last chapter, because the story isn’t over. God is not finished yet. Our part is to be faithful in obedience, and the outcome is up to Him. The next time you start feeling the discouragement Michael Shaara experienced, remember Galatians 6:9 …. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”