Last winter I won a scholarship to attend a writers conference that I have always wanted to go to. I was ecstatic and began planning my trip. But the more I researched the details of the trip, the more the costs seem to add up that I was going to be responsible for. As I prayed about it, I felt God telling me not to go. I truly thought that it was because it was not a wise use of our money at that time, because we were still not out of debt, nor had our house sold. So, I accepted God's "no" but wasn't thrilled about it either. Just being honest...
A few months later, I broke my foot. (Some of you will remember that chapter in my life.) I will never forget the day I went to the doctor and looked at the date on the calendar. It was the same day I was to leave for the writers' conference! God had not been telling me no because of the money... (Why do I always feel compelled to supply Him with reasons??) He knew I wasn't going to be able to go because of something I couldn't foresee, but He could! I was so glad I listened to His prompting and saved myself some extra chaos.
A few months after that, I found out about another writers' conference that a friend and I wanted to go to. She and I hatched a plan and I took the idea to Curt. He felt that it was a good idea for me to go, as one of my favorite writers was going to be there and I could get a 15 minute critique appointment with her. Since I was a few chapters into writing a fiction novel, we felt that was a good place to start finding out if I had what it takes. But as I began to pray about the trip, again I felt God telling me "no." What was the deal?? Was He just against me going to all writers' conferences? Was He trying to let me down easy because I didn't have what it takes? (Again with the reasons...) Sadly I informed my friend that I couldn't go. I was pretty down about it to be honest.
Then this winter I got another opportunity to apply again for that same scholarship from the year before. This time I researched the flight costs beforehand and the other fees I would be responsible for. While it still wasn't cheap, we were no longer in debt (glory hallelujah!) and had moved so things were different from one year earlier. I applied for the scholarship, never thinking I would win again... but I did! And guess what? That writer that I wanted the 15 minute critique appointment with? She was going to be there... teaching a six hour clinic with just six other ladies! I applied for the clinic and was accepted to that as well. That was a very cool little arrangement and I thanked God for it. I couldn't stop smiling.
In a few hours I will board a plane to CO, flying cross country to do something I have dreamed about for a long time. When I look back on those other two trips I wanted so badly, I see that it just wasn't the right time for many reasons. I see that God was saving me from wasting time, effort and money when He told me "no." I see that this time He has flung open the doors, whispering to my heart, "Now."
Was it easy to hear "no" those other times? No! Did I want to surrender my agenda and trust His? No! I want the control, baby! But I am glad I waited on Him. Because He had something so much better in store. This trip my agent will be there. I get to room with one of the P31 speaker team members I don't know very well. That writer (Susan Meissner, I am not trying to be cryptic) will be there-- and instead of a fast 15 minutes, I get 6 hours! And I am going with an actual fiction manuscript this time... something I didn't have those other times. I see His protective hand on me-- not bullying me or controlling me as some would paint it. But guiding me, steering me in the direction that matches His will and His plan.
If you are hearing "no" about something right now, please don't let that shatter your dreams or deter you from hope. Accept the no and then tell your Abba Father that you can't wait to see what that "no" is going to lead to! Set your sights on the future and go confidently towards it, knowing that Your Daddy has a good and perfect plan for you. A plan that involves some no's... but that also leads to fabulous "nows" in the future!
(I will be gone through Sunday evening so expect an update about my time at the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference early next week! I appreciate your prayers for me and my family while I am gone! Thanks y'all!)