For years I have wanted to go to a writer's conference but, alas, timing, distance and money have all conspired to keep me away from those gatherings of verbiage and knowledge. Finally, however, I learned of a writer’s conference that would fit my schedule, my budget, and my travel constraints. So, I sent in my fees almost two months ago, reserved a spot at the conference, marked the date on my calendar, submitted my first chapter for critique, and waited.
This morning I arose bright and early and left the house shortly after 5:30 a.m. to make the three and a half hour drive to the much anticipated conference.
But this time a late spring blizzard was my conspirator and I managed to travel only 80 miles in two and a half hours.
Earlier this week I had a feeling I should not attend the conference. Now, traveling through a steep, unplowed mountain pass those feelings increased until I could not shake the impression that I should turn around. For miles I fought the impression, prayed for guidance and, finally, managed to bring the car to a stop in the deepening snow. But there I hesitated. I wanted to go to the conference!
Yet the impression would not leave and finally, very reluctantly, I followed the prompting and turned around.
Ten miles down the mountain my human side returned. I turned my car around and headed back toward the conference. After all, I really wanted to go. Besides, I’m a Montanan. I’m used to driving in snow storms. It’s what we do.
As I headed toward the conference the impression returned, stronger this time. If you go, it said, the trip will be dangerous for you. You need to be home today.
It took several miles before I listened to the prompting. Feeling sad about not going, I turned the car toward home again, consoling myself that it is never wrong to choose family over other things.
This time, though, I only made it about five miles down the road when I started arguing the prompting and justifying the trip. I’d paid a non-refundable fee. I had wanted to go to a conference for years and this one was close, relatively speaking.
So I stopped justifying and decided I was going to the conference--no arguing about it. I turned around again and headed back toward the conference when a powerful voice said, Terri, do not go. I will not tell you again.
Okay. That caught my attention and this time I turned back toward home, for good.
Yet I cried over the decision. I really, really wanted to go to the conference. Worse, I wasn’t sure the impressions had come from the Lord or my own subconscious. Because of that, I felt added frustration I may have chosen wrong.
Don’t you wish you could see into the future and know for sure if your decision was really the one He wanted you to make?
That is when I felt a whispering in my mind. On those times when we make a decision because we think, hope, we are following the Lord—He is still pleased.
Remember when your young child tried to please you by making breakfast? I bet you smiled warmly and gave that child a big hug even though the eggs were not cooked, the toast was burned, and orange juice had spilled on the counter and floor. Why? Because it was the sincere effort that pleased you, not the outcome.
And I realized this morning the Lord often feels that same way about us.
It's the effort to follow Him, not the outcome, that means so much to Him.