For years, Nate encouraged me to write a book. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” I said in response. “There’s only one Book that matters. I have nothing to add.”
What felt pious to say was actually words that cloaked fear. Writing a book meant a whole new set of unknowns — and this chick isn’t so comfortable with the unknown. (My private inertia always tugs me towards a small world with little variables, because fewer variables means fewer opportunities to be out of control, right?) It felt like enough of a stretch for me to write this blog. I’d run into people at the grocery store or church who said things like “you put more online than I put in my diary” that made me want to crawl right back into that hole.
A book? No way. Not me.
Years and slowly-increasing nudges later, I finally agreed to at least ask God: do You have a book for me to write? It was November and I told Nate that I was laying on the ground my very own fleece. I was asking for something to fall into my lap — not come through my own pursuit. He laughed. “It’s not always that simple, Sara.” And though Nate was right, God was gentle with my tepid heart. Weeks later, I received an email from a stranger (who has since become friend) — a response to my fleece: “Have you considered writing a book? I really have no agenda but to see more people introduced to your story.”
She brainstormed through her network and I wrote, still secretly hoping these pages would be seen by us only. It was one step at a time for me, walking this out and wishing that my inches of obedience wouldn’t take me out of the hidden world in which I was loving to live.
You see, I did “impact” in my twenties. Nate and me, we wanted to see the world changed. We lived out-loud for Him but it wasn’t just my womb that was barren on the inside. And then He drove me underground. I slowly began to find that secret room — the place where no one was looking, but where I felt His eyes boring into me — to be where I wanted to stay. So I naturally assumed this little place was where I would stay. Forever tucked away in Him, me and my story.
But as I wrote the book, each small event — like the email above — turned into a string of events. Perhaps this book wasn’t just meant for our family archives.
“Check your email!” read the text. He’d somehow gotten my mail on his phone, this one random time, this one not-so-random day.
I was already late but bolted up the stairs, trusting his urgency. In my inbox was an introduction from a friend to my (now) literary agent. I scanned it in seconds and was out the door to my appointment.
Was this really happening? I asked on my way (now a year and a half after that very first fleece), barely able to process these two concurrent events. This appointment, alone, was historic.
Because within minutes of skimming the email I arrived around the corner at a building I’d frequented. She ushered me to that same paper-lined table that held my broken body several times before, all for diagnosing. Except this time I had a different reason for coming. This time the black-and-white image on the screen revealed a flicker, the cadence of a life living inside of me.
In the same hour that I saw my baby’s heartbeat for the first time, my book had also found its pulse.
“Aren’t you so thrilled that your dream of writing and publishing a book is finally coming to fruition?” a friend asked with a knowing glint in her eye as she leaned closer to me on the couch.
“I never had a dream of writing a book,” I said flatly, still wrestling on the inside with what I thought I wanted for me and my life at this stage versus what He was placing in front of me.
The internal noise increased as I flew across the country this summer — carrying the baby in my belly and the manuscript in my bag — to sit in front of publishers who held the sweat of my story in their file folders. I’d found such peace in my closet. I loved His blanket over my life. I wanted to be hidden and a book seemed like a premature outing. I felt sure I wasn’t ready.
Two thousand thirteen was my year to trust wildly. I thought that was about an adoption, not a book and a baby coming in twin tandem.
How did I get here? And why now?
It all started with one “yes.” One single “yes” to His presence, right there in one otherwise-nowhere moment.
He had asked me for a “yes” when my outward life stalled and my inner life was opened. He asked me for a “yes” when my womb went silent and the only heartbeat inside of me was His. Yet another “yes” to be said in the face of failings, mine and Nate’s. He asked me for a “yes” over the Atlantic, on the way to get my children. And then again, two years later, for two more lives.
Those were the big yeses. But there were scores of others.
The “yes” up the stairs at night when I wanted to crawl — not walk — from exhaustion. The “yes” over another pile of laundry and in the midst of their squabbles, seeking to find His beauty there. The “yes” when the kitchen was a mess and so was her heart, the latter needing my attention the most. The “yes” when their jammy-clad bodies sprawled across my bed as I read them another book, fighting to keep my eyes open. The “yes” when I admitted wrong for snapping at him.
God had never asked me to walk out my future perfectly, or to muster and implement an ordered plan for my adult life. All He asked of me was to give a whole-hearted “yes” to His presence in both the big and the small.
It wasn’t a grasping, striving-in-myself, I-can-buck-up-and-do-this “yes.” It was a yes I am crazy-weak and yes You know that and You meet me right here, God. Come.
It was a yes, I invite Your presence into this moment “yes”.
The “yes” He asks of us is the one that says: this moment — big or small — is Yours, and I bend to what You have for it. This “yes” says I want You more than I want my plan, my way.
All this month I had been seeing this upcoming year as “the year for me to seize joy”. My weak knees are shaking at the thought that my life will not just be archived, but bound and distributed for you to read. I’m afraid of leaving this little closet that He’s carved for me and what that might look like for a mom who educates her children at home and now has five of them. What better to do than to seize joy in the year during which the thing you’ve been most resisting actually surfaces?
But for me to seize joy would mean that I am to be the captor of joy. To choose joy when my heart is all tangled up in fear and insecurity is no different than dressing up my flesh — because joy seems to be imparted, not captured. I’d last about three days seizing joy in this grasping way.
Instead, for me to say ten thousand yeses — over the stove and driving her to ballet and kissing another ouchie — puts me in the position of receiving. (That’s about 27 moments a day when I learn to lean through a quick pause and a look into the Eyes that field my nascent trust.)
When I say “yes” to Him, every single minute — the mundane and the rock-hard and the insufferably perplexing — has a chance to incarnate His presence.
And right there on the other end of that “yes” — in His presence — is fullness of joy.
I never expected that these yeses in the closet would one day lead to a “yes” in the great wide open, but I’m learning that His presence is on the other end of them both.
I was made to say “yes.”
Saying “yes” is where I come most alive.
For that reason my “yes”, here, to this book — the one-time “no, never!” for me — is emphatic.
Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things comes out, via Zondervan, in October. And I do hope you will join me in this little “yes” of mine.
For Your Continued Pursuit: Psalm 16:11 | Judges 6:36-40 | Romans 14:17 | John 16:24 | Romans 15:13
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