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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sticking My Neck Out

When something incredible happens, some deep desire of our hearts for which we've worked and prayed, words often fail us. Such an event occurred three weeks ago that so blessed my socks off, I'm still blinking in awe of God's unfathomable grace. I've tried to describe the joy--the pure exhilaration--and fallen short. It's all about God's fingerprint on my life, but it was a very mundane scene the other day that drew it all into perspective for me.

Now, some of you who live in sprawling urban areas might not "get" this analogy, but try to hang with me. I live in a rural county in north Georgia where there are probably as many horses and cows as there are people. A few days ago as I drove down one of our country roads, I noticed three or four cows with their heads stuck through the barbed wire, munching on grass on the outside of the fence. With all the rain we've had lately, the pasture grass was thick, green, and lush. But these cows wanted something they considered better, and were willing to endure discomfort to obtain it. Wouldn't you think the barbed wire sticking into their necks would discourage their greediness?

In the book of Hebrews, the writer (probably Paul, but we don't know for sure) points out the promise God made to Abraham, saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. Hebrews 6:14-15

Now I'm not implying that the cows patiently endured to obtain the promise of better grass, but the sight of them with their necks stuck out made me smile. As writers, sometimes we have to stick our necks out and become vulnerable to rejection, criticism, and disappointment in order to achieve our goals. All the while, we endure. As one wise counsel once told me, if God has called you to write, don't you dare quit. So, even though I sometimes questioned my own motives, not to mention my own sanity, I stayed the course, not knowing if the gratification of having my work accepted would ever happen. But I wanted to "obtain the promise", so I stuck my neck out trying to grasp all that God had for me, keeping in mind another scripture, also written by Paul: "...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I PRESS TOWARD THE GOAL for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14

Last month, while attending the national conference of American Christian Fiction Writers, God blessed me when I least expected it. I was awarded a book contract with Barbour Publishing. Even now I am in awe of God's goodness, because it's all about Him. He simply allowed me to go along for the ride. Yes, writing is hard work, but every word I write belongs to HIM, not me.

For several years I have "grazed" in green pastures, continuing along the path where God led, until at some point, I stuck my neck through the fence wanting all that God had for me. However, there is one more critter analogy to present. Along the way, I've entered my writing in contests and picked up a few awards. I allow myself a minute or two to bask in the glow and admire the certificate, and then I stick it in my Dumb Donkey file. And what exactly is a Dumb Donkey file, you may ask? When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, and all the people shouted praises to Him and threw palm branches and garments down in front of Him as a demonstration of honor and worship--wouldn't it have been ridiculous for the donkey to think all the shouts of praise were for him? Lord, never let me forget I am just the dumb donkey You have chosen to carry the message.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.