A few days ago, I got back from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in St. Louis. (“Meet Me in St. Louis” became a popular theme in pre-conference emails—and in my head! ☺) I had never been to St. Louis for more than an airplane transfer before, and I wish I could have explored more—it seemed a beautiful city full of history. Our hotel stood right by the arch at the Mississippi River and very near the white-pillared courthouse where Dred Scott made his suit for freedom in one of the most heartbreaking cases in American history.
But the conference kept us in a wonderful, if exhausting, whirl of workshops, meals, editor and agent appointments, and connecting with other writers. It was so sweet to spend time with two of my critique partners again (one member of our group couldn’t make it) and meet other writer friends, some I knew online and some completely new. And it’s always fun to meet “famous” authors and find they are, after all, delightfully real people. I’ll have to post reviews of some of my newest favorite authors and books soon.
I was so grateful for the communal times of worship that daily refocused our eyes and hearts on Jesus when it could have been very easy to get stressed, distracted, or focused on ourselves and our books rather than the One we were all writing for. Someone observed the snapshot of heaven those worship times were—700 attendees of different denominational backgrounds, from very conservative to charismatic, all worshipping the Lord together. On the last morning, the ACFW choir sang. Since I was trying to capture the moment with my camera (which I finally remembered to pull out that last day) it took me a minute to realize what they were singing. While they began with an original piece, the choir then segued into a medley of old familiar hymns:
“This is my story, this is my song…Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word…I love to tell the story…”
And that is what brings us together, I realized, writers from all regions, backgrounds, and genres. We love to tell the story of Jesus through the stories that we write…that one true, beautiful story that never grows old.
I have often struggled with sharing my faith—I sometimes don’t know what to say, remain silent when there might be an opportunity to speak about Jesus, or at least don’t take it as far as I should. It is easier for me to share about Him in writing a story, but I am finding that writing this novel can actually give me more opportunities to talk about Him with others. It seems that many people (the girl next to me on the airplane, for instance) are interested when they hear you are writing a book. Then they want to know what it is about—and how can I answer that question without talking about God? I still haven’t availed of the opportunity as much as I should…but I’m asking Him to help me more. It’s rather neat to think about.