Tuesday, June 17, 2008

ACFW Conference 2008

I know. I know. Everyone attends conferences for the writing, right? For the workshops, or to fellowship, for networking and the all-important agent/editor appointments. Well, that’s true of me, too. Except for two things. First, the worship. Two years ago, I attended my first ACFW conference in Dallas. Wow, such worship times. I’d only been a member of ACFW for a short time, so I’d only heard from fellow attendees via the loop emails. But one person stood out to me—her understanding of God’s love so mirrored mine. So, I’m heading down the long hall to the prayer room, and I hear the worship team rehearsing. Beautiful! Drawing. Wooing, even, as the presence of God reached into the hallway and took hold of me. I had to go introduce myself. So, I veered left for a little detour. Between songs, I met Rachel Hauck and told her I’d love to help out, if I could. She said not this year (something about mics, but probably also about hello, who in the world are you?? ;) So, I just joined in from my perch, wherever I happened to be in the room during any session which began with worship.

And wow, the Harp and Bowl night! Friday night of conference, it’s a tradition for folks to gather with the worship team who hosts an hour of prayer and worship. So, here’s how it works—whoever feels led to come pray, walks to the mic, bringing his/her Bible. She or he prays the passage to the Lord. Then, the worship team creates a spontaneous song based on a phrase or two of the Scripture or prayer that’s just been prayed. It’s Holy Spirit-led and quite a wonder to experience as God orchestrates the evening.

My second favorite aspect of conference, as I’ve already hinted, is the prayer room. Oh, the sweet presence of God in that room, even if I walk in and remain alone, I’m not alone. And if you’ve been in there, or want to be in there this year, you won’t be alone either. There’s plenty to pray about at conference. Sure, the usual things—like oh, could I please get a contract this year? or Please help this meeting coming in ten minutes to go well. Yikes! or That meeting didn’t go very well at all. But, then there are much more “serious” prayer needs. Someone who needs prayer for healing from Lyme’s disease or someone who’s just lost a daughter or someone else who’s just had a diagnosis but still managed to make this conference and wonders if this will be the last one. Whatever the need, there are pray-ers in the room, ready to pray with you or ready to leave you be, if you would rather pray alone. Last year, I went in and just sat down. A woman sat across the room from me, and a group gathered in the corner, but I met with Jesus right there. What a warm memory of enjoying His presence.

You’re going off to conference. You’ve got high hopes, or a long list of connections you need to make. He’s with you. He’s the One who called you to this pursuit of writing and publishing. Keep Him as the focus and everything else will fall into place in the right timing.

Maybe you’re an agent or an editor. You’ll have a lot of people pulling on you, hoping for a big break. So, be sure to take a break. Get into His presence, either in worship (where everyone will be focused on the One who ministers to His ministers, and therefore not trying to pitch their proposal to you) or in the prayer room, (where I’m sure others will respect your quiet moments), and just breathe.

Let His goodness, His peace, replace all the weights and burdens, all the concerns and worries, all that’s drawn out of you. Let His life flood in and rejuvenate yours.

Conference isn’t all about writing or networking, it’s also about meeting God in the midst of the meetings. Whether this is your first conference or your 101st, God is with you. He wants to meet you there. He wants to cover you, assure you, inspire you.

Have a great conference.


Cara Putman said...

What a great perspective, Annette!

Annette M. Irby said...

Thanks, Cara! With all the chatter on the loop about conference, this seemed to fit right in. I wrote it before I saw the chatter, but viola! So looking forward to conference this year!