I am a planner and a list-maker. I like to know what is ahead, what my next step should be. I do not like it when my plans get messed with! (Some people may refer to that tendency as “control issues.”)
This weekend, I breezed into a luxurious conference hotel with big plans. As my heeled sandals tapped out their little clickity-clack tune, I ticked items off the checklist.
Click – Attend meetings to pitch book proposal.
Clack – Take copious notes as I learn everything I need to know about speaking and writing and building my ministry.
Click – Have a Jesus weekend, experiencing Him in fresh new ways.
Clack – Network with people in the industry.
Day one ultimately went as planned. I had a fantastic meeting with one editor who accepted my proposal. The literary agent I sat down with also invited me to send her my proposal. I learned so much about marketing, speaking, and writing in so few hours that I wondered if it really might be possible for someone’s brain to explode. The hours I spent in sleep that evening were too few, yet I awoke energized, confident, and ready to clickity-clack my way through the plans for the next day.
A little-known secret at writer’s conferences is that you can often get squeezed in to see more editors than you were originally scheduled to meet with if you stop by to inquire about cancellations. This is how I scored another agent meeting for that afternoon. I just love it when things go according to plan!
It was during the morning session that I began to suspect that something was amiss. I jotted these words on my outline, “Do not allow serving God to take precedence over knowing the God whom you serve.” Those words – they bugged me.
Do I do that?
No, of course not. I know Jesus! I’m close to Him. The writing and speaking I am called to do is for Him and because of Him. Jesus and I, we’re like this – I crossed my middle finger on top of my index finger and looked at my hand.
Just in case, I figured I better head to the prayer room. After all, I am fully aware of the risk of heading off into ministry on my own strength. Falling on your face tends to be the result of those efforts. I prayed, Lord, I want You more than I want to serve You. I want to know You, be close to You, be able to say that we are tight.
It was a good prayer to pray, to ensure that things were right between me and the Lord. I fully expected to pray that very good prayer and go about my plans for the day. That is the moment God decided to completely mess up my plans.
Immediately, I was aware of a hollowness in my heart and an insincerity in my prayer. If my prayer were true, why had I neglected my quiet time with the Lord for the past two weeks as I prepared my book proposal? I knew I was a fraud. The good thing was to say that I wanted Jesus more than anything. The right thing was to show it.
The empty void in my heart bubbled up into my throat. Tears overtook my eyes. My chest shook as sobs wracked violently from my body. I fell to my knees, planted my face on the seat of a chair, and let God mess with me.
I am not sure how long I knelt in worship and repentance. It was long enough for my feet to tingle with numbness and copious snot to run down my face. It was long enough for God to turn my heart into one that truly did desire Him more than anything I could do to serve Him.
A whisper danced across my soul, and my Jesus asked me the question that cinched the deal and messed with my plans – not just for the day, but for everything. Tyler, do you really want Me more than anything? Do you want Me more than you want to sit down with that agent this afternoon? Do you want Me more than you want a publishing deal, a speaking ministry, and fancy networking relationships?
I stood, wiped the tears and snot from my face, waited for the feeling to return to my legs, and strode purposefully from that prayer room to the table perched outside the agent’s door. I confirmed that my name was indeed written down at the two o’clock time slot. It was. And I heard the devil ask me, “Surely He did not say that you could not have this meeting. You know He wants you to do all that you can to get His message out there.” I smiled at the girl behind the table, thanked her, and walked away – convinced that God just wanted my willingness and that I didn’t really have to give up that appointment.
Three clickity-clacking steps later my feet stopped moving. Something burned inside me. I was so uncomfortable! Love for Jesus and desire for significance warred within me. The bubble crawled up my throat once again. I turned back, ashamed, and asked the sweet lady to cross my name off the list as tears streamed down my cheeks. She asked, ”Are you sure?” “Yes,” I choked out, “God told me to cancel it.” She smiled and nodded. I could see in her eyes that she understood; God must have messed up her plans a time or two as well.
I have no doubt that if God intends for my book to be published He is able to make that happen, regardless of how many editors and agents I meet with. Ditto that for speaking engagements, networking opportunities, and ministry growth. So I’m going to let Him take care of that stuff – that’s His job. My job is just to love my Jesus more than anything else.
Thank-you, Lord, for loving me enough to mess up my plans.
To see the verse the Lord gave me for my M & M these next two weeks, go here.