In the Hand of God
Three weeks ago tonight I was packing. I stood and stared for a minute at the open suitcase laying on the bed and the dressy clothes that are so unlike me, hanging on the bedroom door. Beside the suitcase lay my book proposal, one sheet, and business cards. It was real, and it was tomorrow.
I found myself in a room with 799 women that I didn't know that weekend. I now find myself desperately missing some of those women who I made connections with, who understood me, and who believed in my calling. That business card that had mocked me all summer was now completely accepted and never questioned.
The girl who questioned several times why she had ever considered this journey now knew the answer. God really did want me to go. He wanted to give me confirmation. He met me there in ways I never expected or dreamed.
I had meetings scheduled with two major publishers. I knew going into the conference that the subject matter that I had been called to write and speak about was a taboo subject for publishers to publish. I knew that all the hours I spent researching and writing my book proposal was quite possibly a waste of time because of this. The problem was that even though I knew it was impossible going into a publisher with this, I knew something else as well. God called me to be His voice on the subject. He not only orchestrated my life to prepare me for it, but He had shown me over and over that it was Him.
Not only did I face publishers who I knew had no interest in my proposal, but I also came without endorsement and a minimal platform. In writers' speak that means I didn't have anyone well known to support me and I didn't have that many people who read my stuff. Turns out there were a lot of women like me who didn't have these things, with many simply coming with endorsement from their home church. I finally asked a local preacher if he would be willing to possibly endorse me, and he agreed. Following that I had another person volunteer to endorse me who happened to be a pastor at a local Quaker church, and had also volunteered to be on my prayer team. Only God would orchestrate that. He knew I needed confirmation that I was in His will.
So I headed off to She Speaks almost in secret, with a prayer team of eight friends carrying me in prayer to the throne of grace. The entire experience was amazing, but let me take you to Saturday. On Friday evening I had met with my first publisher who confirmed that her company would not be interested in publishing on the topic. I wasn't surprised at that but was surprised when she encouraged me that she indeed felt that I had been called and that I had to continue. But here I was on Saturday just wanting to get past the second appointment so that I could enjoy the last hours of my conference.
I walked into the appointment with a publisher I was very acquainted with through reading books from some of my favorite authors. I handed the acquisitions editor my one sheet and book proposal, and started to tell her my story. I even helped her by letting her know that I knew the subject wasn't a favorite of publishers which was why I could not find any books available on my topic. She smiled, looked me in the eye, and said, "I'm not afraid of tough topics." The conversation then turned to platform building, blog writing, and speaking. I was in shock.
I stumbled out of the room almost in a daze and headed toward the information desk. The slot for the 2:45-5:45 session was left blank on my paper. I was instructed to go to room I/J for the session "Discovering God's Power for Your Life and Ministry" with Wendy Blight and Micca Campbell. I had no idea that my life was fixing to change.
The personal life stories that both women shared with us were incredible. You could see God's hand at work in their lives. I sat there and took careful notes of their comments and the verses that they used to encourage us. Some of the things they spoke about were things I too had struggled with or had faced in the last few months.
After the second part of the session, it was announced that we would be given the opportunity to be anointed and commissioned. Did I mention that I am a Baptist girl? Did I mention that I am a Baptist girl who has attended three different Baptist churches in her whole life, all of which were small, rural, conservative churches within a ten mile radius of each other? I started trying to figure out if I could manage to go to the bathroom without looking obvious that I was trying to escape? I was going to be anointed? I was already in enough trouble with my writing back at home. If I went back telling that I was anointed, then I would have to switch denominations. My need to sit in the front had now gotten me trapped, and I sat quietly making up my mind that I just wouldn't tell anyone what happened, after all no one knew but me.
A single guitarist started to quietly play from the side of the room while she softly sang. The first row on either side rose to go to the front to be anointed by the two speakers. As I sat there in that almost silent room, I started to feel Him. My mind wandered back to all those moments when He had confirmed the calling. All those nights under the stars when I felt Him so close beside me came back across my mind's eye. I could feel Him beside me. I could hear Him whispering my name.
I suddenly realized that I wanted to be anointed. I wanted to be set apart for the work of God. There was no power in the oil. There was no magic that came from its application. It was simply a symbolic act which represented being set apart for a calling from God. The songs that quietly filled the room were songs that held much meaning for me. As I waited quiet and still in my chair, the song changed to one that is dear to my heart. "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story. This is my song..." The last song my beloved uncle sang before he died...his testimony. Here I was in a room full of women who like me, were trying to follow this call, this call to follow God in ways we would never dream of on our own. Here was this song that had held a special place in my heart for almost thirty years. The first tear fell, followed closely by a second. It was my turn to go forward..
As I stood before Wendy Blight, she smiled and told me hello, spoke my name, and laid her hand on my head. She then prayed for me and that I would go out into the world and share the love of Jesus. As she continued to pray that God would guide me in ministry for Him, I felt the doubts and insecurities that had plagued me in the weeks prior to the conference start to leave. It was as though that single drop of oil followed by her hand on my head had started a process of cleansing in my heart and my mind. The negative comments, the ones who misunderstood the subjects of my writings, the fears I had of going back...they all washed from my head to my feet accompanied by tears of relief and joy. The Creator of the Universe had chosen me for a special task. He had met me here on this day to whisper in my ear and tell me that I was indeed His chosen baby girl and that He was enough. Enough. He was enough for my fears, my insecurities, my pain, and my passion. I went back to my seat and quietly wept while I sat still in His holy presence.
I'm back now...here in reality. The subject of my writing is probably more than likely still being misunderstood and thought to be something totally different than it is. The story of my anointing and commissioning will more than likely not be understood either. Nothing here has changed much...except for me. I have changed. My remaining time on earth is short and my life is at least half over. My story isn't just my story. My story fits inside His story. He has given me a part. He has chosen me to perform a work to increase His kingdom and to bring hope to a dark world. I don't have time to worry about the things of this world, the approval of people, or the cost I will have to pay. I only have this one thing...the knowledge that I have been called and the fact that I am compelled to follow. Nothing else matters.