Yesterday the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Annual Conference wrapped up. I was blessed to attend and blessed to be a finalist in the ACFW Genesis Contest.
When I attend an event like this, I always expect God to show up and teach me something big. This time, the first day and a half went by, and although I learned many wonderful tips for becoming a more successful writer, I didn’t have an emotionally moving moment where I felt God’s special word to me personally. I’d already heard several amazing God stories about how one attendee or another had connected with just the right person or received just the right message.
I decided to give God a little help.
Since I’d only scheduled one appointment with an editor and one with an agent, I put myself on the schedule for a publishing representative who had a free appointment slot. I signed up for an opening on Friday, but the person I requested to meet with didn’t show. The next day, I noticed that the person who had blessed a friend of mine had an opening, so I put my name down to meet with her. When my time came, she, too, stood me up.
Once is a coincidence, but twice is a pattern.
I interpreted it to mean that God knew what He was doing. If I wasn’t satisfied with what had happened so far, then God had something else in store.
I didn’t dare think it would be winning the Genesis Contest. I knew that many authors who had been writing fiction longer and with more expertise than I were in the contest, and I didn’t expect to win my category.
I was moved by a workshop that Liz Curtis Higgs presented. If hers had been the only session I’d attended, it would have been worth the trip to Nashville. What an inspiring woman!
That night, as winners were announced in the Genesis Contest, I didn’t receive an award, but I wasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t my time.
Sunday morning, I had a few free hours before leaving the luxurious Gaylord Opryland Resort. I donned my walking shoes and rambled through the sprawling indoor tropical paradise. As I approached a waterfall that had drawn me near several times over the past days, I considered its unique attraction.
The pathway leading toward it was bordered by manufactured stone that reminded me of the cliffs along the St. Croix River. One of my earliest memories—a mere flash of recollection—is of my dad taking our family to an outing at Osceola, Wisconsin, to see the falls where Osceola Creek tumbles over a cliff on its way to the St. Croix. A special feature of Cascade Falls is that you can walk behind it, and that’s what we did.
I was probably only three years old. Dad carried me in his arms while my older siblings walked. We stood in the cleft of the rock as the waterfall roared in front of our faces and the creek rushed away before us. I smelled the damp stones and fragrant vegetation. Cool water sprinkled my face as Dad’s warm, protective arms enfolded me.
Like Cascade Falls, this indoor waterfall allows one to walk behind it. It even offers a bench to sit on behind the falls where you can watch the water pour down from the rocks and pools above your head. With plenty of time this morning, I stopped a few minutes to meet with God. It was a drop-in appointment, but He was ready and waiting for me.
Sitting in that secluded nook brought Colossians 3:3 to mind: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
When I attended Bible College, one of my favorite Bible teachers told a story about that verse. He remembered being out in a rainstorm with his dad as a very young boy. He and his teddy bear were wrapped inside his father’s rain jacket next to his heart. My professor’s point was that Christians are the teddy bear, held close by Jesus, who is held close by God.
I’ve drawn comfort from that image hundreds of times. But today God pointed out that I had an image of my own that would serve me better—one I’ve left unclaimed for decades. Behind Cascade Falls, I was enclosed in Dad’s sturdy arms, and we were both hidden in the cleft of the rock. God is the shelter and the fount of blessing. In Christ’s arms, I am safe, and I am loved. That’s all I need.
Perhaps I hadn’t received some big reveal from God during the conference, but He’d given me everything I needed right now.
Encouraged by that thought, I continued my walk. A few minutes later, I stopped by a pastry stand for breakfast and ordered a double chocolate muffin and two percent milk.
When the server heard my order, she grinned. “That’s all you need in life right now.”
The same thing God had just told me. He must have wanted me to hear it twice.