By now, if you haven’t heard that Jeff Gerke, creator and owner of Marcher Lord Press, has sold his formidable redoubt in the publishing world to Steve Laube of the Steve Laube Agency, then you must have been under a rock or boulder somewhere.
This is NEWS.
I can sure sympathize with those groaning into their coffee at this change, (I like change as much as I like being hit in the head with a rock) I groaned too. I have to admit I was as startled by my reaction to the change. My foremost reaction was surprise (totally understandable) followed by anger (not understandable) and the idea that Jeff somehow had betrayed a segment of the Speculative Fiction population (not really getting this at all). That segment of the population would be ME.
I will issue this warning right now: This blog is going to go to some very nasty corners of my heart at times. Why? Well for one thing I’m going to be writing a lot more exhortation specifically focused on writers who claim the name of Christ. Since exhortation often comes with a denouncement of some sort of practice, I don’t want this to turn into a form of my shaking my finger at the rest of the Scribes I know. To avoid doing that I’m going to share how the Holy Spirit has pointed out my own sin nature and admonishing me to change, before I turn around and address some of the things I’ve seen others do that are “missing the mark“.
Consider yourselves warned. Now, back to my struggle with my self-centeredness.
Close on its heels of my surprise, anger, and betrayal, came the Holy Spirit with a “HEY” moment. It was a sharp mental pinch, like the door catching my foot as I stepped through the doorway. The sin was slithering around my brain, and in a flash-instant He was on that idea like red against black.
I groaned. Really? This was my first reaction? Well that’s just great, I thought, I’m starting off the day sinning. How long have I been following Christ again? The Holy Spirit, thankfully, didn’t allow that rabbit trail to go on for too long. He redirected me back to the original mis-thought and poked me to start looking at things from a different perspective.
Jeff has taken it on the chin for years.
He came out of the Christian publishing industry and did something different and new.
I know how well different and new ideas go over in the Body of Christ.
The secular market hasn’t been a whole lot easier on him.
You know, I haven’t seen any of Jeff’s fiction writing recently, other than that short story in Ether Ore
On and on came the thoughts hammering at my citadel of self, cracking the foundation, breaking the walls, and shattering the windows. Could it possibly be, that the Lord was calling Jeff to stop holding the publishing door open for everyone else, and put Jeff and his writing in their place? Could it be that the Lord knew what was best for Jeff, and was moving him from the good of owning and operating the premier speculative publishing company, to the very best?
Could it also be, that the best for other speculative fiction writers would be to have Steve Laube take over Marcher Lord Press? Dizzily, I could feel the defense of my selfishness sliding away like grains of sand caught in the draw towards the ocean.
If I really believed that the Lord was moving all things together, that His plans were better than mine, that His love stretched to cover my dreams, Jeff’s dreams, and all the dreams of speculative fiction writers striving to honor Him, I had to stop holding so tightly to Marcher Lord Press and Jeff Gerke. They were in the dangerous place. They had become an idol.
Gently, gently, like the murmur of water over soaked sand when the sea is as still as a mirror, came this verse: Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. *
The verse caught the last of the debris of my dark stronghold, and pulled it into the sea of forgetfulness.
I was sorry that I had entertained such thoughts about another Christian, and ashamed of my sin, in putting another flawed human being in a place that really is Christ’s alone. And saddened that I hadn’t even been aware that’s what I’d done. I repented. I won’t go into details, some things you just don’t need to know.
I will tell you this; My Jesus didn’t leave me in a place of shame. He took that, and in its place left a marker of holy conviction. His goal, always, is to do what is best for me and to make me the best and truest me possible. One that looks a lot like Him. He is jealous about how I look, and desires for the family resemblance between us to be more apparent each day.
At the very end of this process, I was able to do what I love most, and that is to encourage Jeff as he undertakes this new venture. I’m excited to see what stories he’ll now have the time to share with the rest of us, and excited too that the Lord is working out the best for him, and for me.
Now it’s your turn, Scribes. This week rummage around in the dark, cobwebby places in your hearts and take Christ with you. My prayer is that His gentle work in destroying your own idols will bring the same sense of wonder and excitement that He has brought to me. And if you have any thoughts to share on the transition of Marcher Lord Press, don’t hesitate to pop them into the comments here.
* Romans 14:4 ESV