Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just One Thing I Learned at the ACFW Conference

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.


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

  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.

  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.

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

  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!

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

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


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.