Monday, March 2, 2009
A hard act to follow...Reflecting on Saturday's Oregon Christian Writers Conference
Being a part of the Oregon Christian Writers Conference Saturday in Salem was wonderful. I felt honored to be there as one of the workshop leaders, but trust me, it was hard to follow The Shack author, William Paul Young, who was the keynote speaker of the day and also led the workshop just before mine.
I had the chance to meet Wm Paul Young between sessions and noted his segment on identity really hit home. Identity is a theme in his book and life as it is in mine and I am guessing many other people’s lives.
I asked him to sign my daughter Rachel’s book (Rachel had it with her in Germany where she was in Bible School and she shipped it home along with other books to lighten her load to go to Austria, where she is in her second term of Bible school). William Paul Young has the philosophy of not just signing books but personalizing every single one of them. He wants to send the message to people that they matter. To him. And to God. That powerful message is found in his book, The Shack.
The story behind The Shack is powerful in and of itself. How he came to write it. How he came to publish it. How it has gotten into the hands of 3 million people worldwide. How he did not set out to become a New York Times Best-selling novelist. How God’s hand is entirely in William Paul Young’s story and the success of his book.
And that is the part that I took home. So many times we strive and we worry and we plan and we do all these things to make ourselves successful, and then we add a little prayer asking God to bless us. Bless our ideas, bless all we are doing, thinking to ourselves, it is God’s will. But, William Paul Young’s message was one that said he finally came to a point in his life when God was the only identity he had. When he emptied himself and his own desires and gave them completely to Christ.
Then, God gave him this story, The Shack, which was originally written for his six
And God used it – and is still using it - in the lives of millions of people.
William Paul Young shared the letters he has been receiving from people who have been affected by the book. People whose lives have been turned around. People who have returned to Christ after reading his book. People who have found God for the first time. People who have returned to the church and a relationship with Christ after having felt burned by the church. People who have discovered mercy and grace and peace and love for the very first time. Or again.
Yes, it was a writers’ conference I was a part of Saturday. But, it was more than that. It was a time of inspiration and renewal in personal lives. It was a time of connection. It was a time of refreshment.
I enjoyed seeing so many people from my church. I enjoyed seeing old writer friends and meeting new ones. I went away with inspiration to write more deeply and transparently and from the heart.
And, to pray. And to trust God for all things related to the pen. And to life.
[Note: photo courtesy of Julie McDonald Zander]