He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Despite the fact that it’s January and a new beginning to the year, today’s quote is not talking about shedding those five lbs. I picked up over the holidays, although heaven knows I need to. Nope, today I’m talking about “dieting” of another kind — spiritual dieting where the ME in the equation has to shrink to let HIM become more — in my life and in my writing. To take a backseat on the bus and let God take the wheel, because heaven knows HE is far more qualified to take each of us to the peace and joy and contentment we all so long to have.
I won’t lie to you — I’m a very aggressive driver, which is why it’s probably a good thing that these days, I mostly let Keith cart me around. You know, “Driving Miss Julie”? You see, by nature I have a lead foot (tempered by speed limits, I assure you) and can switch lanes faster than Mario Andretti, sometimes on two wheels. So I’m pretty sure my blood pressure (and that of anyone driving with me or around me) is higher than normal when I am behind the wheel. Heck, the last time Keith even let me drive was when he had a colonscopy and had no choice, a procedure he swears was far superior than my driving.
Regrettably, I’m inclined to agree. By the time I get home from driving somewhere, I’m usually stressed and hyper and going a mile a minute, which for a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) is NOT pretty. But … it’s the strangest thing. When Keith is behind the wheel, I am suddenly relaxed and content and able to read or chat as if I’ve been tranquilized (I know, hard to imagine, isn’t it?). And that’s when God finally got my attention with that still small voice of His:
“Julie, step away from the wheel.”
“Lay it down,” the gentle thought came, brimming with love.
I swallow hard. “Uh … lay what down, Lord?”
A quiet pause, as if God were waiting for me to finally listen. “Your hopes and dreams. Your need for control. Your need for approval. Put it on the altar, Julie, and step away from the wheel.”
Gulp. “But you don’t understand, Lord — I have books to promote, emails to answer, comments to write.”
“Give me the keys, Julie — now.”
I blink, visions of my daughter wresting the car keys from my hands when I turn 65, like she always threatens to do. My hands begin to sweat as I stall. “I don’t understand, Lord — what keys?”
“The keys to your career. Lay them on the altar like Abraham did and walk away.”
A shiver travels my spine as “The Abraham Factor” looms large in my mind, something Bram Hughes introduces to Logan McClare in book 3 of The Heart of San Francisco series, Surprised by Love. And something I knew God was calling me to do the minute I penned that scene as follows.
Bram propped elbows on the arm of the chair and steepled his hands, staring out the window over Logan’s shoulder, the gloom of night the perfect backdrop for the subject he broached. “You see, I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to the most precious things in my life, the safest place to keep them is in God’s hands. To trust Him to do for them and me the very best thing.” His eyes met Logan’s. “No matter what that is.” He expelled a wavering sigh. “Because if I love someone—really and truly love them—I’ll always want to give them God’s best, not mine.”
Rising from his chair, he nudged Logan’s cup of coffee toward him before he picked up his own. “Abraham loved his son fiercely, waited decades for God to honor His promise to give him a son in the first place. And then one day, God—Abraham’s ‘friend’, mind you—asks him to lay that precious son on the altar and give him up. Sacrifice him—just like that. And you know what?” Against his will, tears glazed Bram’s eyes as his gaze locked with Logan’s. “That man didn’t balk or miss a beat. Nope. Because Abraham’s trust in God was so strong, he actually told his traveling companions to ‘abide ye here and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship, and come again to you.’” Bram shook his head, overwhelmed as always at the strength of Abraham’s faith, the certainty that somehow, someway, God’s best would prevail. “And you and I both know what happened, Logan. God stayed the knife in Abraham’s hand, giving him his son back because of his remarkable trust.”
“Trust,” Logan whispered in a low drone, “the very reason I’ve lost Cait.”
Bram nodded, his tone quiet but sure. “And the very thing that will help you find God in a way you’ve never experienced Him before. He wants you to trust Him, Logan, to put your love for Mrs. McClare on the altar where God can do with it what He wills for your good and hers. And whether He stays your hand or not, your sacrifice of obedience will be rewarded with more peace and joy and hope than you ever believed possible.”
Logan’s brows dipped, the deep wedges indicating his skepticism. “And you really believe that?”
Bram smiled, remembering his own lack of faith before God had proven it true. “I do.”
And you know what? So do I. Deeply. Which is why I am finally taking my hands off the wheel and giving the keys to God. A God Who not only knows the direction to my ultimate peace and joy, but can steer me there while I sit relaxed in the back seat, enjoying the ride. Driving Miss Julie, if you will.
And you, too, if you’ll let Him.
What this means for me is I plan to become less while He becomes more in my life. So after my initial promo for Dare to Love Again this month and part of next and the spring Christian Scavenger Hunt, I will be pulling back from everything but writing and seeking God. No blog appearances except for once a month on Seekerville, almost no Facebook promo after Feb. 15 unless absolutely necessary, no checking reviews on Amazon and as few emails as I can possibly get away with. And, regrettably, withdrawing from weekly Journal Jots to post only when I have news you need to know, such as publisher-promoted giveaways or freebies or a personal or spiritual message I want to share.
This isn’t really what I want to do … and yet it is. I feel strongly that God has brought me to this point, and I suspect I’m not the only one He’s tapping on the shoulder. He wants each and every one of us to lay aside what encumbers us and focus on Him first and foremost. So I’m doing my level best to obey, as difficult as that may be for my anal, control-freak CDQ personality.
I want to thank each and every one of you who has been such a HUGE support to me through reading my Journal Jots and my books, and I encourage anyone who wants to keep apprised of any freebies or giveaways to subscribe to my Journal Jots blog in that little box at the top right-hand corner of this page beneath the Facebook, Twitter and other buttons. Since I won’t be automatically posting every Friday or Saturday now, if you subscribe, you will always get an email when I DO post something, and that way you won’t miss any giveaways or words of wisdom that might miraculously come from my daily devotionals. 🙂
I love you guys, and appreciate you more than I can say! And, hey — what do YOU need to put “on the altar”?? Because there’s plenty of room in the back seat …
NOW UNTIL 10:00 AM, MON, FEB. 3, 2014:
WOW … what a fun promo by my publisher Revell — just leave a comment telling them who your favorite Hollywood heartthrob is, and you will be entered to win DARE TO LOVE AGAIN!! Here’s the link and GOOD LUCK! http://on.fb.me/Lj0XzI
FEBRUARY 3-17, 2014:
Join me for an blog article/giveaway of your choice of my books including my newest release, Dare to Love Again, at Carla Laureano’s blog, All Things Romance. Hope to see you there!
FEBRUARY 8, 2014:
Join me for an interview/giveaway of your choice of my books including my newest release, Dare to Love Again, at the Novel Rocket blog. Hope to see you there!
FEBRUARY 13-15, 2014:
Join me for an interview/giveaway of your choice of my books including my newest release, Dare to Love Again, at Carole Jarvis’s The Power of Words blog. Hope to see you there!
FEBRUARY 14 – 28, FEBRUARY 3, 2014:
Join me for an interview/giveaway of your choice of my books including my newest release, Dare to Love Again, at the Remain in His Love blog. Hope to see you there!