By Laura Bradford
But when the lyrics began to describe the depths of Jesus’ sacrifice—how He let humanity trample Him like a flower tossed on the ground—a stab of conviction pierced my heart. If my Savior gave everything for me, shouldn’t I give everything to Him?
Hiding in a quiet corner of Oregon’s Canby Grove Christian Center, I quietly prayed, “Lord, why did you send me to this writers’ conference? You know me. I’ve never had much time to read, let alone write.”
Feeling like a loser, I wanted to dash home. Instead, I decided to join a worship time about to be led by Conference Pastor, Tom Fuller. I longed for a few minutes to focus all my attention on the Lord.
Two decades earlier, He’d called me to become His writer. I’d laughed. I’d fallen asleep during my morning prayer time and thought it was a funny way of nudging me awake. He knew I lived in a constant state of exhaustion since I served as my paralyzed husband’s 24/7 caregiver, while also raising our young son.
I thought no more about the call to write until a week later when I attended our church’s prayer meeting. We’d just bowed our heads when a member of the group bolted upright and said, “Laura, God’s telling me He wants you to be His writer, to write about Him!” Everyone stared at her in stunned silence, while I wondered, Lord, how can I ever find time to write? I hardly have time to eat and sleep.
During the next few weeks, the Lord gradually revealed His unique plan. I started keeping a journal of the things He showed me as I read my Bible each day. In time, I realized the journaling helped me retain deep insights the Lord gave me through the Scriptures. But, when I tried to take it a step further by writing short pieces about those insights, I failed miserably. I didn’t even enjoy reading what I’d written. So, I stopped trying to write Scripture-based essays. But I kept following the Lord’s guidance to journal. As a result, my spiritual life benefited greatly. I assumed journaling had to be the sole reason God had called me to write.
Then, 20 years into that writing pursuit, the Lord called me to do something well beyond journaling. Once again, the call came during a difficult time in my life. My husband had passed away only months earlier and I’d taken on the overwhelming task of managing his elderly parents’ care since they both struggled with dementia. At that demanding point in my life, I sensed the Lord again calling me to pursue a career in writing.
Stunned, I told a group of friends about my frustration with such an untimely call and one of them mentioned a local critique group for Christian writers. Given my level of stress-driven exhaustion, I moaned. But I sensed the Lord prompting me to attend.
Weeks later, I finally gained the courage to go. Surprised by the group’s warm and welcoming manner, I kept returning. Over time I learned a great deal about writing, critiquing, and even submitting stories to publishers. As I worked to improve my skills, the Lord revealed a surprising gift for writing that He’d hidden deep within me. In time, writing became my much-needed escape from the pressures I faced managing my in-laws’ care.
About a year into my writing journey, a well-known publishing house accepted one of my stories for a compilation book. Due to valuable critiquing and suggestions from the local writers’ group, other editors accepted several of my stories for publication the following year.
Seeing my determination and success, our group’s leader and prolific author, Helen Heavirland, urged me to learn more about the world of Christian publishing by joining her in attending a Cascade Christian Writers Conference. When I sensed the Lord encouraging me to follow, I agreed to go. I found it extremely intimidating to be surrounded by writers whose achievements went far beyond anything I wished to accomplish.
Being an introvert, I had no desire to follow the recommendations of establishing a platform and promoting myself, along with my writings. I merely wanted to compose short stories about the awesome things I’d experienced while walking hand-in-hand with Jesus through an extremely challenging life. But I doubted anyone would want to read my testimonies. Such fears of rejection encouraged me to hide in a quiet corner of the conference center.
From this hiding place, I could see the entryway to a room where Pastor Fuller would lead us in praise. After a few people entered the room early, I heard soft melodies echoing from inside. Then numerous conferees began strolling in, so I joined the crowd and slipped into a back-row seat.
The music brought a sense of calm as I sat with my head bowed, worshipping my beloved Jesus. Soon Pastor Fuller led us in a song called “Above All.” Since I knew it well, I eagerly sang along with my eyes closed. But when the lyrics began to describe the depths of Jesus’ sacrifice—how He let humanity trample Him like a flower tossed on the ground—a stab of conviction pierced my heart. If my Savior gave everything for me, shouldn’t I give everything to Him?
After all, God is the one who called me to write and planted the gift within me. Then He used decades of journalling to get me started. He also sent experienced writers to teach me the craft. Obviously, He had a plan. Was I going to turn on my heels and walk away from His will? Or would I follow Jesus’ example of total surrender?
The thought of it left me weeping as I repented of clinging to self-doubts and feelings of inferiority, rather than walking forward by faith. In those humbling moments I realized that the God who called me to write would never fail me. He’d continue to lead me so I could serve His purposes by following His call.
More than a decade has passed since that moment of tearful surrender. I’ve now attended a dozen Cascade Christian Writers conferences where I’ve made valuable contacts with editors and learned a great deal about the writing world. As a result, hundreds of my writings have been published, including personal testimonies, devotionals, poems, and children’s stories.
None of that could have happened without the Lord bringing me to a place of humble surrender during a precious time of worship at this conference.
BIO: The Lord stunned Laura in 2006 by calling her to become a professional writer. Amazingly, she now has more than 300 publishing credits, most of which are from writing for Gospel Publishing House. However, her writings have also appeared in Guidepost books, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family magazines, and numerous other publications. Connect with Laura on Facebook.