by Mary Ann Wray
Writing a book and seeing it published is a dream of many people from all walks of life. However, as with any dream, there is a certain space of time, and much effort involved before it comes to fruition. For the Child of God, cooperation with the Holy Spirit is also required in order to see your “God” dreams begin to manifest. As long as I can remember, I dreamed of writing but didn’t know where or how to begin. You see, growing up I had many learning disabilities; especially in memory, reading and math. Back in those days there wasn’t the understanding and help we have now for children who struggle academically and emotionally. Therefore, I was labeled lazy and dumb and wound up in the “C” classes designed for slow learners.
This certainly didn’t help my self-esteem nor did it help me do better in school. Every summer after the school year ended, beginning in the fifth grade all the way up through High School, I spent most of the days in classes trying to catch up to no avail. I had a terrible habit of daydreaming, which I now understand was a means of escape from emotional pain. Even through High School, I remember going to classes for English and Math throughout the summers barely passing. It was in my senior year the realization hit me that I was the one who needed to make the choice as to what I wanted to do with my life. My senior guidance counselor told me my grades were too poor to go to college and I lacked credits in Math, English and a foreign language. He suggested I repeat my senior year or consider a different career option.
Through a series of fortunate events and a helpful neighbor, I was able to attend a subsidiary College to make up for lost credits and the poor grades I made in High School. You see, my neighbor’s husband was the head coach for the University of Richmond’s basketball team and had certain ‘connections’. One Saturday afternoon during a random visit with Ms. Diane, I began to moan about how I couldn’t do this or that and was unable to go to college because I had such bad grades. I told her I just didn’t know what to do with my life. She just looked at me with a smile but was very serious and said something that stuck with me the rest of my life. She said, “Mary Ann, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I realized at that moment that all of my self-pity and complaining wasn’t going to change a thing or make a bit of difference towards my future.
As a result of this conversation and speaking with her husband Louie, I applied for and was admitted to “The University College”, a subsidiary of the University of Richmond designed to help talented ‘jocks’ get the credits they needed to catch up and attend the U of R once they complete one or two years to do so. I was one of about five girls in the whole place. I wasn’t the least bit interested in dating any of these guys. I was completely focused after a huge wakeup call and a “lucky” break, so I wasn’t about to fail again. While my friends were out partying during the week, I studied four to five hours a day-except on the weekends. After one year I had straight A’s in all subjects but Math and English which I had a D and B in respectively. The Math instructor passed me out of the goodness of her heart after trying to tutor me all summer to no avail! Four years later, after a lot of hard work, and transferring to two different colleges in order to find the one that suited my learning style better, I finally graduated with a high B average earning a Bachelor’s of Science, in Elementary Education. What an irony! I wasn’t saved at the time, but my senior year marked the beginning of another search for significance-a spiritual one which led me to Christ!
After I was born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, something supernatural happened to me and I was able to read the Bible with a great hunger and comprehension at the same time. The Lord began to give me poems and words of wisdom that I would jot down and share with others. I realized the Holy Spirit gifted me to write as a scribe and after several confirmations from others who were more seasoned in the Lord, I felt very encouraged to continue keeping a journal which I have done off and on for the past thirty-nine years. Since I don’t have a degree in journalism, I’m not the most grammatically correct writer, but God uses me anyway. I began to get downloads from Heaven that were way beyond my level of personal experience and wisdom. As with any God given gift, it isn’t based on our ability but God’s will. A pastor friend of mine wisely said many years ago that God doesn’t call the qualified, but He qualifies those whom He calls. Isn’t that what the Apostle Paul meant when he said in 2 Corinthians 4: 7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us?”
We are the stewards of our spiritual gifts, so we must exercise and develop them in order to experience progress and change from glory to glory. As the years passed, I began to write more poetry and inspirational articles addressing Kingdom issues that I felt the Body of Christ would be encouraged and challenged by. I started a blog and began to publish these articles as well as other notes on my Face Book Page. My dream in seedling form many years ago, didn’t show me what was to come or that the book I dreamed about writing would come through a series of life altering events.
Little did I know that this book would be birthed out of an incomprehensible personal tragedy. In retrospect, it was a project inspired by the Holy Spirit urging me to take my personal struggles and pain and use it all to bless others. Through applying life lessons from the Holy Spirit and His grace I learned and am still learning how to be an overcomer. The Lord pushed me out of my own hurt and urged me to examine my life and faith in a way I hadn’t done before. For this reason, I believe “The Master’s Plan: A Legacy and a Journey” causes the reader to look at God through the lens of His goodness despite what may or may not be happening around them.
Without going into a lot of detail, we lost our only son almost nine years ago in an automobile accident while he was on his way to relocate and begin a new career with the same Federal Agency my husband and I work for. He was only 29 ½ years old. That fateful Sunday morning on January 18, 2009, Samuel left early to move up to Columbus, Ohio which was only supposed to be a six and a half hour trip. By three o’clock in the afternoon I knew something terrible had happened when he hadn’t arrive yet, but I didn’t want to admit it. After two policemen were spotted walking up our sidewalk by our granddaughter, Shanna, “I knew” exactly what had happened.
The next several days were a complete blur to me for the most part, but soon afterwards the wonderful grace of God brought my husband and me through the worst possible nightmare any parent could dream of. It was during this awkward and difficult season God began to impress upon me to write a book. I felt confused by this sense of urgency, and to be honest, felt guilty about it at the same time. I didn’t want our personal loss to be a means of ‘promoting’ a book. However, after many days and weeks of this deep impression from the Lord, along with finding our son’s journal and poems which further validated my inner conviction, I felt there was no getting around what I believed the Lord was calling me to do.
I finally broke my silence to my husband on the way to church one Wednesday evening. As I shared my struggle between what I felt was a call of God along with the sense of guilt I was having for even thinking about doing such a thing, there came a sense of peace. As my husband always does, he spoke with wisdom and love and encouraged me to follow my heart. He said, “Honey, if you feel like the Lord is calling you to write a book about all of this, then you should do it and follow your heart.” At that exact moment we approached a stop sign. The little white car making a right turn into the same intersection had a license plate which read, “Write On”. I couldn’t believe my eyes and blurted out, “Bob, did you see that? Look at that license plate!” We looked at each other in complete amazement and said at the same time, “Well, I guess that answers that!”
The next day I went to the Lord in a prayer of total surrender and told Him I would do whatever He wanted me to do. He immediately gave me the word “Trail of Tears”. Not understanding what this meant I asked the Lord for understanding. The next thing you know, He gave me a divine download in prose form. I have never written a poem so quickly since or before that time. I knew it was a supernatural revelation. After presenting the completed poem “Trail of Tears” to my pastor at the time, he told me something that shocked me and served as another confirmation. He said, as a younger man he worked on a Cherokee Indian Reservation and learned quite a bit about their history including the Trail of Tears. He asked if I was aware of it. I told him that I had no idea of such a thing. Next, he suggested that I do some research on it. What I discovered about this particular “Trail of Tears” completely shocked me. Again, I received a third confirmation. The legend mirrored my own life along with the prophetic poem I received in many ways. The Cherokee Trail of Tears was not something I learned about in my American History class. Neither was my own personal trail of tears something I could have prepared for or learned about from any book-other than the “Good Book”.
My research showed me that The “Trail of Tears” was a horrible injustice done against the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole tribes as a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 passed by President Andrew Jackson. Despite vehement opposition by many, including U.S. Congressman Davey Crockett of Tennessee, President Jackson convinced Congress to pass it anyway. I have since learned that in 1987, about 2,200 miles of trails were authorized by Federal law to mark the removal of 17 detachments of the Cherokee people. These trails also called the “Trail of Tears National Historic Trail,” which traverses portions of nine states and includes water as well as land routes. There is also a historical drama based on the Trail of Tears called “Unto These Hills,” which to date has sold over five million tickets for its performances since 1950. I hope to see it one day.
This bit of history, along with my poem, marked the beginning of the writing of “The Master’s Plan”, and became its introduction. What this history lesson also showed me is that through life’s injustices God Himself is just and remains the same yesterday today and forever. Scripture tells us that when the Lord Jesus Christ sets up His Kingdom on earth during His Millennial Reign, He will restore everything back to its original design and bring complete restitution for all the wrongs done to us and against humanity by the enemy of our souls. The lion will lie down with the lamb! (Isaiah 11)
To the glory of God, I have received numerous testimonies from people whose loved ones and friends have accepted Christ after reading “The Master’s Plan”. I purposely laced this work with the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ, giving people an opportunity to pray a simple prayer to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Others have testified that they have received emotional healing and a conviction to draw closer to God in intimacy with Him. Whatever your station in life may be right now, one thing is for certain; you will experience some level of loss and pain this side of eternity. “The Master’s Plan: A Legacy and A Journey” was written with this in mind but provides the answers to some tough and hard hitting questions like, “How do you make sense out of loss and tragedy?” The answer is not necessarily in the how or what, but rather in the Who-The Great I Am!