Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Even in my loss, I worked on

I continue to be surprised at the faithfulness of God. This morning I read in my mother's tattered 1939 copy of Springs In The Valley. The scripture was from Ezekiel 24:18 which states, "In the evening my wife died; the next morning I did as I had been commanded." Ezekiel was a prophet who served God around 590 BC. He was a younger contemporary of Jeremiah and served as a "street preacher" to the exiles in Babylon. God asked Ezekiel to do some out-of-the-ordinary things and Ezekiel obeyed. The final chapters in the book of Ezekiel offer hope and restoration for the reader.
Maybe that is why When God Comes Near has just been recognized as a book that offers hope and restoration to the reader. Last week I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. Trying to "put myself out there in the literary world" I sent the book off to be judged by people I did not know-- people who did not know Megan, our family or anything about the horrific circumstances of our lives four years ago. I felt I could allow myself some vulnerability.
After three days of going to writing classes, taking copious notes and meeting with publishers, agents and new friends, we all gathered for the Thursday night banquet where many awards were handed out to people from all over the country. The final three awards of the night were the two "Selah" Book of the Year Awards and The Director's Choice Award. When God Comes Near claimed all three awards.
Admittedly, I was happy and honored to walk to the stage the first time. My hard work had paid off. Someone other than my closest friends had recognized the work as substantial. But when the book was recognized a second and third time, I was reminded of the Bible verse that the conference had claimed for 2011: 1 Thessalonians 1:3 "We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."NIV
Like Ezekiel, God asked me to do something I consider out-of-the-ordinary. Like Ezekiel, I obeyed. I stood in my child's hospital room and told my friend that I could not turn my back on the God I loved. When my heart was breaking, I wrote. When I could not believe what was happening to my "perfect life" I wrote. When I went through the valley of death with my child, I wrote. Sometimes I think the words came to heal me. But now I believe the words came to heal others as well. I suppose one has to be well in order to help others get well. In the past four years writing has been a healing balm, soothing my soul while offering something to those who also need healing. I am so grateful my story is allowed to be used because it is in the using we become real--like the skin horse in the Velveteen Rabbit.
The morning devotional said, "The great God wants our conspicuous crises to be occasions of conspicuous testimony: our seasons of darkness to be opportunities for the unveiling of the Divine. He wants us to manifest the sweet grace of continuance amid all the sudden and saddening upheavals of our intensely varied life. This was the prophet's triumph. He made his calamity a witness to the eternal. He made his very loneliness minister to his God. He made his very bereavement intensify his calling. He took up the old task, and in taking it up he glorified it. The evening sorrow will come to all of us: what shall we be found doing in the morning?"

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