Two Crosses, the first novel I wrote way back in 1995, is on sale for $.99 as an e-book today. I thought you might enjoy reading the story I penned in 1994 that tells of the events leading up to receiving my first contract for my first book:
The Transfer Ticket
A few weeks ago, I flew from Atlanta to Chicago to attend my first writer’s conference. The conference took place in downtown Chicago, but I was staying an hour north in the suburbs. So on Monday morning at six a.m., as rain pelted my umbrella and splashed onto my tennis shoes, I stepped onto the train and into the world of commuters.
I had planned to take a bus from the train station to my destination: LaSalle and Chicago St. But the rain convinced me to catch a taxi on this first day. I was nervous enough about the conference. I couldn’t deal with being late or, perhaps, getting lost.
The taxi got me there in style. But on the way home that afternoon, as the skies had cleared, I decided to take a bus back to the station. Politely a student at the Bible College directed me to walk eight blocks in the wrong direction to catch the nearest bus. My backpack was bulging with books, as I proceeded down the street into a neighborhood that looked rather questionable. “There has to be an easier way to get a bus,” I muttered to myself after twenty minutes of walking.
The next day I headed out again. No rain pursued me, so I had no excuse to take another taxi. Today I would find the right bus. But no one was around to help me. Everyone was walking very briskly in precisely the right direction. I followed the crowd down to where I’d caught the taxi the day before. Across the street stood the bus stop. I quickly dashed across the street as a bus approached. I knew I ideally needed to get on bus #56. This was #57. Oh well, I reasoned, that’s close enough.
As I jumped on the bus, I asked the bus driver, “Does this bus go to LaSalle Street?
“It stops at LaSalle and Washington,” was his reply as I desperately fumbled for the right change. No one else seemed to be fumbling. They looked composed, relaxed, assured.
As the bus lurched forward, I stumbled to a seat, still not having paid for the ticket. I took out my worn Chicago city map and studied it. Always rather baffled by directions, I realized I was going east to the right road but that I would still have to walk 15 blocks up the road to get to the conference.
I groaned to myself, “What a waste. Now I’ll still have to pay for a taxi or either walk all that way and be late.”
I managed to count my change and shuffle forward to drop the coins in the little black box by the bus driver’s seat. The bus had stopped, and it was time to get off. As I approached he asked, “Do you need a transfer?”
“A transfer?” I was dumbfounded.
“Yes. Where are you trying to go?” His tone was more sympathetic than impatient, rare in these parts, I’m told.
“I’m trying to get to Moody Bible Institute. Is there another bus to get me there?” I felt hopeful.
“Yes, just cross the street right here and catch the bus. It will let you out right in front of the Institute at the corner of LaSalle and Chicago. That’ll be 30 cents more please.”
People were staring by now. Desperately I sifted through my change. If I could find 30 cents, I would have a transfer. A transfer! Why hadn’t I thought of that before?
Fingers shaking, I located a quarter and a dime tucked in the corner of my change purse. It rattled down into the box as the driver handed me a transfer ticket. Elated, I slipped off the bus and into the crowd of pedestrians, whispering a joyful, “Thank you, Lord, for transfer tickets.”
As I stood waiting for the next bus, I was overwhelmed by a thought: God is in the business of giving out transfer tickets. He does it first when we understand the concept of salvation. He transfers us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We are on the wrong bus going the wrong direction, but if we just ask (and often even when we are too ignorant to ask), He’ll give us a transfer ticket. The charge isn’t 30 cents. It is free, yet it costs our whole life.
But God doesn’t stop with salvation. Time and again in my life, I have thought, “You’ve really blown it this time, Elizabeth. You’ll never get where you want to go in life. You needed more education way back when, or a different job and now you’ve poured your life into these children, and you’ll never get back onto a career track…. You’re so far behind that you’ll never catch up.”
I feel like I’m standing on the corner of LaSalle and Washington, 15 blocks away from where I want to be with no time to get there.
Then God steps in with His transfer. He gets me where I’ve been wanting to be (where He wants me to be) no matter how far away I am or on what bus I’m riding.
There’s a verse in the Bible that has been quoted so often it seems to be cliché. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good to them that love Christ, to those who have been called by His name.” (Romans 8:28) We quote that verse to explain inexplicable tragedy, and it falls trite on grieving ears.
But the verse is far from that. Rather, it is intricate and rich in its promise of God’s transfer tickets to us, time and again in our lives.
Have we ever stopped to think how vast and brilliant is the mind of God? He does not panic when His kids all rush to Him at once for a ticket. He knows He has a plan for each of us, and He knows what it is. We in our bumbling cannot frustrate that plan. We are His forever, and He will never run out of transfers. He loves us and lives to accomplish His work through us. He holds the map, and He will get us where we need to be. On time.
As a perfect ending to this story, four months after I stepped onto Bus #56 in Chicago, I received a contract for my first novel from an editor I met at that writers’ conference.
~Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser
ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog.