“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.” Hebrews 6:11
Blogging… Platform… Picture Words… Publishers… Book Proposals… Nerves.
Words and feelings flowed freely for three days as women gathered in North Carolina at the She Speaks Conference 2013. We came from all over the country to learn how to better use our God-given talents as writers and speakers for the Kingdom.
As we assembled to worship, hands lifted high across the room; tears flowed freely down my face. Yahweh’s presence was almost palpable. We met new friends, faces lit with a joy that only Jesus can give. Terri and I left the conference with notebooks filled with new insights for our ministry and a renewed sense of excitement about what God is doing through surrendered women across this Nation. But writing trends and speaking techniques were not the only things I found inside the crowded workshop rooms. Amidst the excitement and expectations on that first day, something happened that revealed a flaw in my faith that I was unaware of.
I’m in the process of writing my first book and the weekend of the conference marked one of the most important landmarks in my writing career so far: I was scheduled to meet with publishers to present my book proposal. After presenting my book idea to the first two publishers, neither were interested enough to request the proposal that I had worked so hard to put together. Sudden discouragement started to weigh me down. That’s when the Spirit nudged me to retreat to the conference’s prayer room.
In the darkness and silence of that room, a terrible wave of insecurity washed over me. I was walking among women with amazing stories of accomplishment; women who were published not once, but twice, or as much as seven times over! All of a sudden, my tiny writing world came crashing down on me, in a way that I was not expecting. The old inadequacy monster haunted me. Familiar voices echoed in my mind, voices that accused me of being arrogant for writing in a language that is not even my native tongue.
I was about to start hyperventilating when it happened. As clearly as the sunshine now piercing through my office window, I heard God whisper: “You will not get up from this place until you surrender your unbelief to Me.”
“Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5b
Just a couple days before leaving for the conference, God used this familiar passage in Joshua to strengthen me for the journey ahead. His message that day filled me with gratitude for His sufficiency and grace. I was reminded that the book I’m writing was His idea, not mine. From the title to the outline, He has been guiding each step in the process. I finished my prayer time that morning with a supernatural assurance of His calling. Yet, only a couple of days later, all my confidence seemed to vanish at the first obstacle I encountered.
As I walked out of that prayer room, the image of an onion came to my mind. Yes, an onion, of all things! You see, I love to cook. In my opinion, the secret to great cooking is lots of flavoring. Herbs, seasonings and essences fill my kitchen spice cabinet. Garlic and onions are on top of my list of favorite cooking flavors.
If you have ever cooked with fresh onions before, you are likely to have come across one that looks beautiful on the outside, but as you sliced it open, a dark brown rotten layer is revealed. If you are careful to remove that one spoiled layer, you are able to use the rest of the onion to flavor your dish. But if you leave it as is, the decayed layer will certainly ruin your otherwise delicious dinner.
At that moment in the conference’s prayer room, I realized how easily our faith can become like a rotting onion. How many times do we allow life’s often overwhelming circumstances overshadow God’s promises to us? How many times do we proclaim our belief in God for provision, or healing, or direction, just to find ourselves fretting over tomorrow? Those instances of unbelief, though so very natural and instinct, must be revealed and dealt with, if we are to receive God’s blessings and fulfill His purpose for our lives. Much like with onions, these flashes of unbelief reveal a small layer of faith flaw which quickly contaminates our soul, if not removed promptly.
The Sacrifice of Unwavering Faith
More than anything we can do for God’s Kingdom, He wants our sacrifice of unwavering faith. The same sacrifice that Abraham offered God as he laid down his promised son on the altar. His faith shouted to endless generations to come that the God who promises is faithful to provide. We must kneel down and not get up, until we fully surrender any form of unbelief to the One to whom nothing is impossible!
As for me, this conference has shown me I have a lot to learn as a writer and speaker. But more than that, it’s taught me to be ever alert to signs of unbelief in my heart.
In case you wonder, my book proposal was requested by three publishers the next day. And although I am excited and grateful, only God knows if this is the perfect time for my book to be released. All I know is this: He started the work and He will bring it to pass. When? In His perfect time. I have no doubt today that He will fulfill His purpose for my life completely, so long as I trust and obey.
The rotten layer in my onion has been removed. For now, at least. I know this was not the first and it won’t be the last time my heart will try to trick me into distrusting my God.
What about you? If we cut through your faith’s “onion”, would we see a dark, smelly layer? If so, I urge you to kneel down and surrender it. Surgically.remove.it. For your good and His glory, do not get up until you lie your unbelief down at the foot of the cross. He is waiting with open arms.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6