I attended my first American Christian Fiction Writers National Conference last weekend.
This isn’t meant to be a post-conference agenda recap, so I’ll just say this: I squeezed in as much as I could–workshops and worship, connecting and networking, meals and yes, even rest. Still I missed a few things. I did not visit the hotel gym as I had intended. I paid an exorbitant price per page for on-site printing. (It’s all good.)
Awesome God-things stacked up while I was there, but I had a specific expectation. Not that I would gain an agent or a publishing deal at my first outing–I knew better than that. This is a long-road business, and I knew that when I signed up.
No, I expected to leave with a well-defined and freshly-renewed sense of purpose, and I had reasons to expect as much: veteran attendees speaking of their experiences and an amazing Sunday before I left, when Jesus assured me in multiple ways that He had His thumbprint on this trip. I expected, quite simply, an A-HA! moment, the kind where everything pulls together into one head-exploding epiphany.
But that moment never came.
I was (and am!) still in decompress mode, so I tried not to let it bother me. The entire trip (even the not-so-awesome parts, like getting lost in downtown Indianapolis on my first day) had tremendous value, and I know I’m incredibly blessed that I got to go at all.
And then last night, back in the normal routine of Wednesday night Bible study, there came a pair of thoughts (courtesy of Deanna Davis), both of which made me sit up and listen a little harder.
Sometimes, He gives us information for later;
A spiritually dry time is the perfect time to lay kindling.
And actually, this is a spiritually rich time, full of assurances of God’s presence. Nonetheless, if I experienced the ACFW conference differently than I thought I would, then what’s the takeaway?
What if the everything-blows-apart-and-comes-together-at-once moment is yet future? What if this trip was less about one moment and more about future preparation for that long road I mentioned earlier? What if the purpose was to participate in moments, so there would be a lot of kindling to catch a spark when God chooses to ignite one of them?
In view of all this, I have to smile looking back on my notes from Thursday (a hard day, the day I got lost downtown). I found this: “It’s possible (i.e., likely) that God’s purpose for my being here is not what I expect.”
Amen to that.