Monday, November 17, 2008

A Private Retreat

Well. I was supposed to go to the San Francisco Bible Conference last week, scheduled to leave Thursday and return today (Monday). I had my plane ticket, my hotel reservations, and had even gotten my suitcase out in preparation for packing. But Enclave had not been going well, and distractions just weren't ending. We had a birthday celebration for my mother on Tuesday night, during which Thanksgiving and Christmas were discussed. Maybe that triggered it.

Or maybe the Lord just used it. I don't know. Whatever the case, I was awakened at 4:15am Wednesday morning by a hot flash (not unusual) and was flooded with the sense that I should not go. That I needed to stay home and concentrate on the book.

Lately the Lord had been dealing with me on the matter of taking this part of His calling on my life more seriously. If you've been reading this blog for any lenght of time you may have noticed that I've been struggling to apply some of the principles I've been learning -- most notably the concept of rest. I have never been sure how to rest and at the same time do the work. Most problematic of course was that horrid deadline. Should I completely ignore it and just live my life like a normal person, doing whatever came up, writing as I could and let the Lord handle it? Well that was one way to maintain rest.

Sort of.

But over the last few weeks I think I was being shown something else. Not that I need the deadline, but that I have an unusual calling, one that seems to require solitude, and much time for contemplation. The sheer number of things that had crowded into my mind compromised my ability to concentrate on the word. And maybe I should be taking that work more seriously. Not to the point where I obsessed about the deadline, but where I started choosing for it over other things.

So there I was Wednesday morning, faced with the sudden conviction that I should stay home. Yes, it's a good thing to go to the conference and fellowship with the other attendees, to build them up, to encourage the pastor(s). I've done any number of them. I'd sacrificed time to work on the book just last August for one. Maybe it was time now to sacrifice time at the conference (for I absolutely love going to them) for the sake of the book.

It was one of those choices where both seem right, but you can only choose one. In the the end, talking it over with a friend, she pointed out that I was only seeking to do what God wanted me to do. Whatever I decided he would bless it, because the motivation was right.

I had already decided that I would go and work on the plane and in between lessons... so the whole idea of fellowshipping was already curtailed in my thinking. To go, to have to spend Wednesday preparing, then Thursday traveling... and how could I gather my material properly to work on it somewhere totally outside my comfort zone, as one of the pastors taught over the weekend? Not just out of my comfort zone, but on an old laptop I never use, with a different program, a flat keyboard, no printer. I wouldn't have my files, my papers...

So I decided to stay home, looking at it as a matter of caring for my own vineyard, which is a concept we've been repeatedly exposed to of late in our Bible classes. I canceled my flight (I love Southwest -- didn't lose any of the money, and have it for the next conference I need to fly to. Maybe Florida???) and my hotel reservations. Except for the one friend I talked it over with, and one other, I kept my decision secret, deciding to act as if I was out of town, still get the lessons, but beyond that devote all my time to writing.

Wow. That level of concentrated focus really made a difference. What I thought I would work on, I didn't. What I did, was very difficult. I became enmeshed in a dilemma of which of several scenes to put in what order, and what day should I start them on. Should I begin the narrative on Monday and just do a summary til I got to Wednesday, or should I start on WEdnesday. Should I start with Cam? Or Lacey?

In the end I had to go back to chapters 19 and 20 and redo the endings on them, putting in material I was trying to stuff into 22 and 23. It's made 19 and 20 much stronger. A lot of things emerged over the weekend, time which I had mostly to myself, since my husband had other activities that kept him away most of the days. I really started learning how to listen to the Lord.

It's been so cool to be blank and just go to Him and say what should I do? Then I listen and He tells me. It's step by step. Moment by moment. I am not thinking about the deadline at all. I've given it over to Him. Again. I've also given over myself to Him, too, since I have been so utterly incompetent at managing myself. He'll have to do it. The cool thing is, he's eternal and omniscient so in His perfect plan He's already factored in all my screw ups.

So this marks the end of my little "retreat" but it's been very enlightening and I think I will be doing a lot more guarding of both my time and my mind in the days to come.