A few years ago, I had a vision challenge that required a series of surgeries. After one, my eyes were sown shut for three days. I had pain meds, but took the first one and got hives. So not only did I have to deal with the aftereffects of the surgery but also with the hives. It was not a fun time.
When you’re sitting like that, and in pain and itching like crazy, you’d think you wouldn’t be able to focus on anything. And that was partly true. Noises bothered me because I couldn’t see what they were. Trying to move was nauseating and by the end of the three days I also sported some shin, elbow and shoulder bruises because I’m hardheaded and thought I could make my way here and there alone. (I did, just not without bouncing off a few walls and clipping a few sharp edges on furniture.) But there were other times. Deep in the night when all was silent. And it’s those times I want to talk about today.
In the quiet, my mind drifted and homed in on the strangest things. I’d see glimpses of strangers. Snippets of events. Bottom line, when I couldn’t see at all, I saw most clearly. At the end of those three days, I had a new series of novels!
I find that stunning—and yet it proved to me that God uses all things to prepare us for His purposes, which I find reassuring. We don’t always feel He’s paying close attention to the details of our lives and then something happens and we know He’s been paying more than close attention, He’s been putting building blocks in place in our lives.
Well, I gained evidence of that at a recent conference. Due to travel restrictions, it was the first I’ve attended in a while and my “talk to other writers” and “see friends I haven’t seen in a while” low-level lights were definitely on and burning brightly. So I did something I’ve never before done: I attended this conference with the goal of doing those two things: talking with writers and seeing friends. Always before I had a zillion goals, all of which had to do with the business side of the publishing business. I wanted to have fun and enjoy myself. I needed to do those things and I knew it. (All work and worry and no play makes for poor creativity!)
So I went. (Photos are here if you would like to see them.) And I did talk writing and see friends and have fun. But other things happened, too. Ones I couldn’t have expected and ones that resolved questions on what I should do next in my own writing.
I’d done six Christian Suspense novels—three for Random House Multnomah and three for Love Inspired Suspense—and I wasn’t sure I was supposed to do more. Frankly, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next and all my prayers on it hadn’t brought answers. I didn’t expect those answers to come in this setting. But they did.
On day one, two different readers approached me to say the books had touched them. On the first night, three writers approached me to say that they’d been helped in their writing by articles in both my blogs and in my articles.
It wasn’t until later that night that the significance of this penetrated my brain. Writers appreciate feedback and when we touch lives, it’s affirmation—that’s why we do what we do. So I fell asleep certain that what I had been doing was what I was supposed to be doing at that time. But the way ahead of me still carried confusion and clouds.
Then comes the next morning and a totally unexpected conversation with my agent. A publisher I’ve long admired wants me to do some specific types of Christian fiction for them. And then I had breakfast with one of my editors—who wants more of the books I’ve been doing. Later that day, I had lunch with another of my editors who also wants more books. These are not Christian fiction but are clean read mystery/thrillers.
After the third unexpected meeting, I found a quiet corner and just sat and let it all this soak in. One of the oddities was that while I’d done similar books to the ones I’d been asked to do, I’ve not done them for the Christian market. Could I do it? I thought back to my second real job. It was the training ground. The third added to it. The fourth, more additions. Yes, I could do it.
That’s when it hit me just how involved God’s been in all this all along. And how clear it was that I didn’t have to struggle and drive myself insane trying to figure it all out. All I had to do was my part in preparing and walk through the doors He opened when He opened them.
So once again, while I was wool-gathering, so to speak, not focusing intently on resolutions, my solutions came to me. His solutions, I should say.
Interestingly enough at this conference, the writers I had longed to talk to were also confused. And sitting alone after that third meeting, the advice they’d requested and I’d given came back to me, echoing inside my mind. It was advice for them but it applied to me, too. That surprised me, though it shouldn’t have. And I sat there and whispered a heartfelt, “Thank you.”
I didn’t know what I needed. God did. I felt a little lost and a lot confused. God wasn’t. And so a new lesson was learned. When your eyes aren’t working, you often see most clearly. When your ears are open, you hear. And answers come to calm confusion in the most unexpected ways and when you least expect them. So the big message in all this is if you’re confused, pay attention. Like me, you’ll likely discover that the answers are right before you jumping up and down trying to get your attention, and when they do, you’ll see only clarity in confusion.