My Name is Gideon

At the ACFW Gala Dinner with my Agent Karen Ball

At the ACFW Gala Dinner with my Agent Karen Ball

Hello, my name is Gideon. I’m a doubter of the goodness of God, even when given evidence to the contrary—over and over again. He clearly tells me what path He wants me to take, and I question if I can truly trust Him. Somehow, I forget that what He calls me to isn’t based on my strength, but His. So, I ask for tangible proof—like fleece laid upon a threshing floor—and when I get it, I ask for more. Why do we so quickly forget what a loving and gracious God we serve?

This past weekend, I attended the 2014 ACFW Writer’s Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. I flew out of Sacramento early Wednesday morning with more than a little trepidation. I’m fairly new to travel, and prefer it with my husband playing the lead. He runs interference and handles getting us where we need to be when we need to be there. But alone, I forget that God will run interference and get me where I need to be, and instead, create in my mind all kinds of possible difficulties. This particular trip started with my poor judgment in wearing a shirt with a little bling-bling on it. Turns out it sets off the alarm at security. Asked to step aside, a woman swabbed my hands with a small band-aid-sized pad. Imagine my surprise when the computer flashed these words in red: POSSIBLE EXPLOSIVES DETECTED. Not good! The next thing I knew, I was asked to follow two female TSA agents, who confiscated all my carry-on items, to a back room. There I received a FULL pat down from one while the other went through my belongings to be sure I wasn’t carrying any terrorist weaponry. Writing this now is proof I was not deemed a security risk and allowed to board my flight.

It was smooth traveling from that point on. And I arrived at the conference only slightly frazzled.

I’m not a fan of crowds, especially when I think I have to face them alone. Put me in the midst of the fifteen precious women in my ladies’ Bible study and I’m good. But drop me into a crowd of over 600 people (even Christian people) and I’m as awkward and self-conscious as a twelve-year-old facing mid-year in a new middle school (been there, done that.) It’s only after 24 hours of muddling through as my independent, awkward self that I remember to pray. Not that things would go well for me, but that I could please, please, please get my focus off of myself and onto the needs of others. Because I know He has a higher purpose than workshops and meetings with editors.

And then it happened.

A peace and joy filled my spirit. I wasn’t suddenly surrounded by friends, but I knew in my heart and soul that I was surrounded by the Holy Spirit. My steps were lighter, my smile brighter and I forgot all about being self-conscious and shy. I connected with people at meals—good, heartfelt connections—and at the workshops. I re-connected with women I’d previously met at other conferences and found myself reaching out to those who seemed to be nervous and struggling. I was no longer awkward—but confident. Yet, nothing had changed—at least not externally.

I had two sweet ladies ask if they could send me their work for feedback—and they’re published, while I am not. One of these women I met last year when I attended the ACFW Conference for the first time. This year, we were both finalists in the coveted Genesis Contest in the contemporary category. I loved this, because as the time for the big Gala dinner drew near, where the winners would be announced, I was as excited at the thought of her winning as I was for myself. In fact, to be honest, I expected her to win, or the other finalist, who wasn’t able to attend the conference. Because of this, I didn’t prepare a speech. Isn’t God amazing? He did such a work in me in the span of a couple days, and I can’t praise Him enough. This is what it’s all about—having the heart of Christ. But we can’t do it in our own strength, we have to rely on Him.

And God is good.

When the winner for the 2014 Genesis Contest—Contemporary Category—was announced, I was shocked to hear my own name. Does it mean anything in the scheme of things? Of course not. The bigger picture for me was that God used that fleece to prove again that He is truly the pilot of this journey He’s called me to. And I am humbled to know that He loves me enough to assure me over and over again of His sovereignty, protection and provision. So, I continue to move in obedience and remember that He’s in charge of the rest. I’m sure to forget again, as I often do, but my God is infinitely patient. He’s got an endless supply of fleece to prove once again that His plan is perfect.

5 thoughts on “My Name is Gideon

  1. Congratulations Jennie! I can understand how daunting air travel can be. I too was used to traveling with my husband. I managed to get through. Then the last time I came to California I also rented a car. It was a first. I would still rather travel with my husband, but it doesn’t happen. I am glad you got through in spite of the bling.

  2. Words do not adequately express my joy for you Jennifer. Your path is cut through that jungle of trepidation. God has made your direction clear. Embrace your calling and fly Jennie bird, fly.

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