“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us….”
Hebrews 12:1 NIV
I hate running. Seriously I have never been so happy as when a doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to run or jog at all. I have bad knees. I do other forms of exercise but running has never been something I enjoy. However this week I’ve gained a new appreciation for this verse.
As January dawned this year, I struggled with a bleak outlook. That’s why I haven’t posted a blog in so long—I wasn’t sure I had any words worth sharing. Before me stretched 12 empty months with no huge plans or goals to fill them. Last year January represented stepping into a new year as a widowed mom. It represented surviving. But I survived the First Year of Grief. No, I did better than that. By the amazing provision of God I thrived.
But now what? That question seemed to mock me. So I did something wise—I told my Heavenly Father just how empty I was feeling. I gave Him the coming year and asked for His direction. And then I waited.
God did not send divine direction all at once. There was no audible voice or angel in my room telling me THIS was what God had planned for me this year. I think He saves those kinds of directions for rare moments. Instead, He started to show me my cloud of witnesses.
I used to think this verse only referred to the saints who had gone before us, cheering us on from heaven. But over the past few weeks, I have seen encouragement from amazing women of faith cheering me on through Facebook and the internet.
I have been following amazing authors such as Christine Caine, Lysa Terkeurst, Jen Hatmaker, Emily Freeman, and Kathi Lipp. Over the past weeks some of the encouragement they’ve posted has seemed to shine a spotlight onto my “what’s next.” These women of faith have posted things that God has used to prompt my heart to keep moving forward, one step at a time, towards what He directed me to do last year—write. Write for His glory, using the talents and experiences He has given me.
Through these women I have been reminded that God gifts and God guides. He uses those with willing hearts more than those with talented abilities. I have been encouraged to hone my craft and submit my steps to Him. I was reminded that He will open doors I could never dream of when I have taken the time to submit to His will. My cloud of witnesses was cheering me on and pointing me back to the truths I knew deep in my soul. God has a plan for me, for all of us, which is more breathtaking than anything we could ask or even imagine!
So I took a leap of faith and contacted one of those authors I respect and enjoy. I asked if she’d be willing to read my book and possibly endorse it. She said yes. I was shocked. Oh me of little faith. This propelled me to get back to working on the thing I felt God directing me to so many months ago.
Then God sent me one of my new friends willing to read what I’ve got so far and give me honest feedback. Amanda loves nonfiction writing and would be a good person to view what I’ve got from the outside. She’s only known me for about a year.
And then I took another leap of faith. I contacted a book agent I’d casually met in the hall at last year’s She Speaks. I asked if she’d be willing to read my proposal and consider representing me. This weekend I got her reply. She said yes. She said she was swamped with work right now but if I contacted her mid-March, she’d let me know if she’d caught up enough to have time. I wept. That was perfect timing to get Amanda’s feedback and to polish my proposal that isn’t quite perfect yet.
God has a plan for each of us. I have shared that with others time and again. Sometimes I can forget this truth applies to me too. Let me encourage you today that God has plans for you! He will direct your steps so that you can run the race He has set out for you.
He’s not showing me the whole picture of what He has planned for me but the next steps. That’s all I really need. I guess I’d better get on those running shoes and get back to my race.