I’ve rewritten the start of this post at least six times, mainly because I don’t know which direction I should take when summing up this year’s ACFW Conference.
Should I be goofy and talk about how I accidentally hugged a complete stranger (oops)? Should I be excited and mention how I totally chased down Ted Dekker for a photo? Should I be vulnerable and confess how I internally compared my writing, my looks, my jokes, and even my shoes to those of my peers? Should I be exhausted and reveal that we stayed up until 3am almost every night (and still haven’t recovered)? Or should I be serious and share how I cried through most of Friday just because EVERY. SINGLE. MESSAGE. seemed to be written specifically for me and my tired soul?
So much happened at the 2016 ACFW Conference I couldn’t begin to tell you it all. And maybe that’s a good thing because some of it was meant just for me. But there’s too much for me to keep for myself, and much of it took place in Allen Arnold’s class: The Two Creative Realms.
This class was an invitation to take my calling into a new creative realm that is defined by intimate relationship with the Creator. (Read that again.) We tackled the stories we were writing, but also the stories we were living. I want to share with you two of my favorite takeaways:
Takeaway #1: The prize of writing is relationship.
The prize isn’t a published book, it’s not fame, it’s not making a living. The prize is relationship . . . with our Creator. And this goes for anything. Allen talked about how Satan will always try to change the definition of success. (Tweet this) He’ll try to tell you that it’s anything other than communion with God.
But success is doing things “with” God. If we’re raising our kids, writing our books, cooking our meals, flying through our to-do list, commuting to work, traveling, painting, teaching, reading, learning, etc with God every day . . . then we can go to sleep every night feeling fully successful . . . because we’ve finally let go of the things that defined success.
All these thoughts arise from Allen’s teaching and I can’t take credit for them. I was extremely excited to hear he’d just released a book that cover this, titled The Story of With. *purchases immediately*
I get distracted. Easily. I can lose sight of writing with God and I’ll start feeling like I’m failing. Failing my publisher. Failing my readers. Failing myself. Failing my husband. And yet those are not what define my success.
Anyone relate? We start losing sight of what succeeding is? We start losing sight of Jesus as our everything.
Takeaway #2 – Writing with God is inconvenient
The word inconvenient is like nails on a chalkboard. Today’s culture demands convenience, the logical route, time-saving instant gratification. Efficiency. I myself start getting antsy when I can’t fit my creativity into a practical timeline.
But inefficiency is okay. Allen pointed us to some Bible stories. Was having the Israelites wander in the wilderness for 40 years the most efficient way to get them to the Promised Land? Uh . . . no. Was Jonah sailing in the opposite direction of Nineveh and then getting swallowed by a fish the most efficient way for him to get there? Definitely no. But that’s because their stories, and our stories, are about transformation. (Tweet this) They’re not about speed or getting from point A to point B.
God’s version of “efficiency” isn’t the same as ours. His version of efficiency is shalom–the way things were intended to be. Communion with Him. Relationship. Journey.
Perhaps this blog post is a jumbled mix up of emotions and conference notes, but I’ve returned home at the start of a new journey that I can see will be even more beautiful than the one I’ve been on. This class has reminded me that…
“You can believe in God, but still miss life with Him.” – Allen Arnold
And though I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing life with God, I’m ready to live it even more fully with Him. Thank you for joining me in my melting pot of thoughts
Did any of this make sense? 😛
What has your definition of success been?
Do you ever find yourself distracted by efficiency and convenience? In what ways?