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Monday, August 5, 2013

You can't be Serious, Lord! Can you?


     I sent the email out to ten as my heart pounded inside my chest. I could really imagine it now. My, "Great American Novel," might just find it's way.  
     The first page, the one that grabs you, was honed to perfection. 20 years of passion and study had been poured into this artful journey of story, and I could talk about the characters and craft of it all day long.

     The email was me simply holding up my end of a bargain with God. Let me explain. A year and a half earlier, after lots of nudging I finally laid a novel down that I'd spent two years writing because I knew God wasn't happy with it. It wasn't easy, but I knew he was right. I could do a better job honoring him by writing something else. 

     Before too long, I got inspired and began a new book.  In the midst of knocking out the story, I promised God that I would not spend any more time or money attending writers conferences if I wasn't absolutely sure that He was on board. 
    Hence the email. 

     Based on the first 50 pages of my novel, I was one of ten writers chosen for a four-day critique workshop. Over a hundred had applied. This would take place in conjunction with the largest Christian writers conference in the country. Wow.
     There was little doubt in my mind that God had opened this door for me out of my obedience to him, but the promise I made came back to me so I wanted to be sure.  
     
    In the email I asked  ten friends and family members to pray for me about whether or not I should attend the conference. I asked them that if they felt strongly one way or another afterward to let me know.  Now, I would wait for all the enthusiastic ,"Yes's" to come for confirmation. 

     I looked at the computer screen and noticed that two people had already replied. Hoe awesome is this, I thought as I opened the email. 
     The first reply was from my sister. "I don't think you're supposed to go. I would wait."
     "What?" I was more than surprised by her words and immediately began to justify her response. You don't even read novels, I thought to myself. You have no idea what this is.
     The second one was from a dear friend. "I think God has a different plan for you. Maybe you should pray about it some more."
     "Seriously?" Another slap in the face. Did she really expect me to believe that in the fifteen minutes since I sent the email that she has prayed about this and heard an answer from God? 
      
     I turned off the computer and walked away.  The rest of the day was ruined. My spirit was restless. I checked my email three or four more times before I went to bed. I really needed those other eight, "Yes's."
     
     They never came. Three days went by and no one else responded to my email. No one. The check I'd written for the workshop and conference (so sure the confirmations were coming) sat beside the keyboard. I picked it up, so disappointed in my family and friends. So wishing I had never sent the email. 
     I ripped it in two.
     
     The weekend came and I had Monday off. I could finally get some writing done. I still had five days to mail a check before the deadline. Was I really still considering going? I was. A part of me really wanted to prove them wrong. 

     Then God decided it was time to turn my world upside down.

     “I want you to stop writing fiction."
     "You can't be serious?" This had to be a joke. Did God have a sense of humor? "This is just another test, right? You just want to see if I’ll obey you again? 
     “No daughter, ”  His words upon my heart had never been more clear. “that's not it at all.  I just want you to lay this down.”
     “But we talked about this!"  I was arguing now.  “I started over for you! I changed my whole book for you!"
     “And now I am asking you to do more." He told me.  "I have other plans for you.”
     I jumped into in the wrestling ring with him now. An angry competitor.  "What plans?!!"  I screamed.  “I want to finish my novel! I've spent fifteen years getting ready for this!"
     
     "I know you have. I also know what it means to you and how much you love it. But you don't see, precious child. This was never about you. You made it about you. This is about me. And I'm telling you to lay it down." 

     I began to weep. I knew God was right and yet, I wanted it to be about me. I wanted him to give me this. I wanted it so bad and yet I knew the wrestling match was almost over. I knew who the winner would be. 

     I was still in a heap on the office floor when Paul picked me up hours later. 
     
     On Monday I sent an email to the group of writers that I spent ten years around the table with on Thursday afternoons. "I won't be coming to writers group anymore," I told them, "I have to stop writing and it would just be too hard." 
     I was the only Christian in the group so I already knew they would not understand my explanation, but they accepted it. We loved we other. There was considerable respect around that table, and our bond came from our great great love for the crafting of words and the telling of story. I would miss and be missed. 
     
     I kept the news to myself for quite awhile. I was not yet ready to talk openly that my book was finished before it was finished. And I knew it would be a very long time before I could talk about it without tears. 

     I have finally stopped questioning and as I surrender and settle into God's will I confess that I miss it, but I do have peace. I don't talk about writing anymore, I simply can't. But my life is full and I have great faith in a God I can trust. I know his love and I believe that when He takes something away it is for his good purpose. 
    And so...I wait.