After experiencing the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) three of the past four years, I was disappointed this year when a schedule conflict with my ‘day job’ prevented me from attending the conference. As the date drew near, I prayed for revised schedules, divine intervention, or a return of nasty winter weather to miraculously open the door that God seemed to have closed.
With less than a week before the conference, God cracked a window just wide enough for me to leave Wednesday morning, arrive in time for the awards banquet and return home on Thursday. Some might think spending nine hours in the car to only enjoy twenty-two hours at the conference – and not even a single class – would be a questionable investment. However, they would be mistaken.
Of course, seeing old friends and making new ones is always a delight, but God opened that narrow window of opportunity because He had a message for me and some friends at Blue Ridge to serve as His megaphone.
The first message came early Thursday morning in Alton Gansky’s devotional. (Note to self: Never sleep in and miss the Thursday morning session.) Al said, “You can’t hit a homerun from the dugout.”
And then He got a little personal. Al mentioned that 70% of conferees who are asked to submit a proposal or chapters neglect to send them.
You guessed it; I am one of those 70%.
I left BRMCWC 2013 full of energy and good intentions and several requests for chapters or proposals, but life got in the way. My ‘day job’ with a new boss, two major projects – both of which culminated with events scheduled for the Tuesday of the 2014 conference – and a million other excuses, got in the way. In truth, fear of failure got in the way. After all, if you never send the proposal, they can never reject you, right? If you never swing the bat, you can’t strike out.
But you also can’t hit a homerun.
Al swung for the fence and the ball hit me right between the eyes. When he spoke about the shame of not having tried, I knew God had sent me all the way from Raleigh to Ridgecrest to call me on my “error.”
But God wasn’t finished.
I was still a little bruised from that beating, when I eased into a seat in the back to hear Edie’s message. (Note to self: Never cut out early to beat the traffic and miss the final session.)
Edie spoke explained that a detour is different than a roadblock. We’ve all come up against detours. We’re cruising along with a particular destination in mind, when something forces us to take another route. We wonder if we’ll ever reach our goal; but, as Edie pointed out, the Navigator may have a different objective.
The work schedule conflict appeared to be a roadblock, but it was only detour to get me to God’s destination. I wanted to enjoy the entire conference, and I’m sure that every session would have blessed, inspired, and educated me. But God’s plan for this year was to send me to hear only the two specific messages that I desperately needed to hear.
Some might say it was crazy to spend nine hours on the road in order to spend less than 24 hours at the conference. But we serve a great God; One who is able to communicate the precise message we need at just the moment we need it.