Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just One Thing I Learned at the ACFW Conference

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The one thing I learned from the ACFW Conference: God works in mysterious ways. We know his ways are not our ways. Sometimes he hammers this home to us.

Sunday morning I opened my Bible at random. I read Psalm 37 and drew comfort from many of its verses, especially the last verse that says:

The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. v 40
 
Two things came to mind when I read this. First, I felt as if God were saying, “You’re on the right track. Stay the course.” In my one sheet, I wrote that my character “seeks refuge in the Lord.”  Coincidence? Or God’s reassurance?
 
The second thing I thought: I need a refuge. A refuge from the stress of dealing with agents and editors. (Not that I think they are wicked . . . .) And then I left my room to meet with an editor. Meeting with agents and editors is extremely stressful, and I was thankful this was my last one of the conference.
 
After my appointment, my husband and I went to lunch. Agents and editors were holding court and people crowded their tables. I wanted to get far away from the “maddening crowd,” so I searched for a place of refuge. An almost empty table stood against the wall, and I made a beeline for it with my husband following. Two men were already seated, and I asked if we could join them. I only sought the emptiness of the table and scarcely glanced at the men. After I was seated, a little awkward pause occurred. Normally I would have said, “Is this your first time at a conference?” God had a firm hand over my mouth and, fortunately, I didn’t say anything. “Jim,” as I read on the name tag, gestured to the other man and said, “This is Tim Downs.” I don’t know what I said. I probably looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Not that I didn’t want to meet Mr. Downs. I just wasn’t expecting it. And then a group of people joined us. In an aside to me, “Jim,” knowing I was out of my element, said,  “From Bethany House.” 
 
He didn’t say who the woman was from Bethany House. And I didn’t know until Sunday night when I saw her walk  onto the stage to receive her Lifetime Achievement Award. I had eaten lunch that day with Carol Johnson.
 
God definitely has a sense of humor. I sought refuge from stress and found myself seated with a group of people that included Tim Downs, James Scott Bell, Dan Walsh and Carol Johnson. He is also compassionate and did not allow me to know more than I could handle at the time.
 
Why did I seek out that table? Just as I turn the pages of a mystery, searching the pages for clues, until that aha moment, I will search each new “page” of my life to find the answer. Perhaps I will never have that aha moment. At least not until I reach heaven and God says with a laugh, “Remember that day you sought refuge and I sent you to that particular table? It was for you to learn . . . .” And then I will know.
 
For now I’m guessing humility.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks, Sandra. I hope so much you'll get to go next year. I would love to meet you in person!

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  2. I had to laugh when I read your post. I, too, had that deer in the headlights look when I found myself sitting at dinner with the Thomas Nelson group. After arriving late, a waiter literally plunked me down in the seat. It was amazing how God's hands are at work. Although I did not have the benefit of God putting his hand over my mouth. I chatted and chatted and chatted, but with Cara Lynn James and Denise Hunter. I get nervous, I talk.

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  3. Something similar happened to me at a conference, Sheraly! I felt antisocial one day and decided to eat lunch alone. A man asked if he could join me. I didn't know until other writers rushed our table that he was an editor from Broadman Holman (B&H's old name). God ordains such meetings. There's more to my story, as I'm sure there will be to yours.

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  4. Oh, Sheila! What excitement! Isn't God fun? He hands out such great surprises, doesn't He? Hope you enjoyed your lunch! :D

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  5. Thanks for the comments!

    DMWebb, yeah, it was funny afterwards! I did talk some--just not sure what I said.

    Lynn, not sure if I enjoyed lunch or not. It's all a blur!

    Janalyn, I'm sure there will be more to the story. We shall see!

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  6. Lunch with the Stars. It may not have been what you wanted, but it sure gave you something to write about!

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  7. I love how God orchestrates much more than we could imagine!

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Thanks for sitting a spell and chatting!