The Rest of the Story…really

Throughout the months before and after my book proposal being reviewed and declined, God kept bringing these verses to my attention repeatedly through sermons, books and songs. One was Isaiah 43, especially the following verses:

1b,“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name – you are mine.
When you pass through the waters
(or anything that threatens you),
I will be with you…
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you…
5
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.

Also, Isaiah 42:6-9

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and
to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

“I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols.

See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”

It became a season of God reminding me of who HE was and His preeminence in my life. He showed me that I had given my heart over to people’s opinions. I had given glory to another. It was time to tear down some idols – my performance, unrealistic expectations of perfection, others’ approval, and counterfeit value attached to my accomplishments. Each time God took an idol down, I’d ask Him to put Himself in that place where He belonged.

I also asked Him to give me a hunger and thirst for Him that nothing and no one could satisfy – and He did. His Word was like fresh water to my soul. I couldn’t get enough of it, or enough of Him. My time with Jesus went back to being like it was when I first became a Christian 13 years before that. We were back to the honeymoon phase and I was loving it!

Then God did something crazy. In Spring 2003, God had Focus on the Family call and ask me to re-submit my proposal. Just when I’d gotten to a place of contentment, peace and not even thinking about writing a book, they called!

I was excited but prayerfully reserved. I submitted the proposal with additional chapters and ideas. It went to publishing committee, they showed more interest and asked for revisions. And while I waited for them to come back with a decision, I sensed God telling me to lay it down – to walk away.

It was the strangest thing. One day I was driving down the road and it was as though God flashed neon yellow lights in front of me spelling W-A-I-T.

I kept praying about it. I talked to JJ. Then through two different people God brought a verse to me from the old testament about a time when a leader had sent a servant to find water (I can’t find in my journal now who it was or where it is in the Bible). When the servant found water and brought it back, the leader “poured it out as a drink offering to the Lord.”

When he got what he wanted he poured it out as an offering to God.

As crazy as it seemed, I knew God was asking me to trust Him and to wait. And as hard as it was, I wanted to be please Him more than anyone else.

I remember calling my acquisitions editor at Focus, and saying “I know this sounds crazy but I feel like God is telling me to wait. It doesn’t make sense now, but I know there’s no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will, and that is where I want to be.” He agreed graciously and we promised to stay in touch.

In the months that followed, Focus on the Family decided to make drastic cuts in their publishing department and reduced their efforts on book projects significantly. Who knows what would’ve come of my book? God does.

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child eventually became a character chart and CD that we self-published. As of today close to 2000 copies have made it into the homes of families across the world.

It’s been 5 years since I poured out my dream as a drink offering, and Jesus has poured out Living Water into me in ways I cannot even begin to describe. I’ll share more on Monday about what’s been going on for the past five years. I’ll also share something God spoke to my heart the day after my decision, and what’s seems to be the next step in this crazy journey of mine.

I would love to hear your thoughts. And if you want to share, I’d love to know if there has ever been a time you had to lay down a dream? Is there a verse that has helped you know what God wanted you to do?

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing more of “the rest of the story.” I love hearing how God takes us on different paths to accomplish his plans for us.

    I’ve had the opposite experience of so many who are on the writer’s road. My first-ever book proposal was taken to committee by two major publishers, and one of those, Thomas Nelson, published it. I got a 3 book contract with another major publisher shortly after that and thought I was on my way to being a full-time writer.

    Down the road I encountered editor changes, publishing-focus changes, a husband in seminary (requiring me to return to full-time work), the arrival of children…for several years pursuit of further publication was put on the back burner. It simmered slowly as I continued to teach at and attend writer’s conferences and such to stay connected, but I had all but stopped writing anything but emails and message board posts.

    Recently though, I’ve been reminded that God called me to write. He didn’t necessarily call me to write books (at least not always).

    I need to write because writing keeps me aware of God’s presence in my day to day life and keeps me alert for the myriad ways He shows up. While I have a couple “books of my heart” that have been percolating and waiting until I’m ready to write them (because of the work he continues to do in me), I’ve realized that I need to be writing anyway.

    My blogsite is God drawing me back to his plan for me as a writer. I try to keep the content consistent with the message that he’s given me so that I can encourage other women to see God in the small, ordinary moments that our days are so filled with.

    There may be another book with my name on the cover some time, but for the moment there is great joy in the simple obedience of writing because I’m supposed to and sharing it with whomever He leads to it. There’s great freedom in not being subject to publishers whims and restrictions and writing the message of my heart without a mind to “marketability.” He may have other plans for me later, but as you said, there’s nothing like being in the center of his will for us.

    I’m anxious to hear what you feel is coming next!

    http://RefreshMoments.com

  2. Ack!! Sorry that reply is sooo long!

  3. 2 Samuel 23:15-17 “David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. “Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.”

    Wondering if that was the passage you were referring to in your post.

    Renee, just this past week God called me to lay down a dream at His feet. As I think you may know, the Christian bookstore where I work will be closed as of August 15th. Working at this store has been a daily blessing and a complete joy as this job came from God right from the beginning – I hadn’t even applied for a position to work there. Anyway, the door is closing. I think of how the Lord gives and takes away – blessed be the Name of the Lord.

    A “sister” store offered to hire me, but distance is a factor. Even though this other store is “bigger and better” and I would be working with the greatest staff, as I prayed about it I had no peace. The travelling would keep me away longer from my family, and of course the price of gas isn’t going down these days. Although this would be my “dream job” in the “dream location”, I felt God leading me to say ‘no’.

    At the same time He is continually leading me to verses that remind me that His plans for me are good, that the vision is yet for an appointed time, that I can’t begin to imagine the things He still has in store for me and that “I ain’t seen nothing yet”!

    I don’t know what lies ahead, but I know I can trust God. After all He just did for me on my journey from fear to faith, I know I can trust Him with all my tomorrows.

    Deut. 6:23 says, “He brought us out…to bring us in.” We sometimes have to say ‘goodbye’ to some things, to make room for the new ‘hello’. I just read recently that the time in between, the ‘desert’ time, is the bridge between the old and the new. God is leading me to a new ‘hello’.

    I have discovered even with the speaking that I do, that God provides. I have never gone looking for opportunities, but as one speaking opportunity finishes, I receive a call for another. I always smile and say, “must be God”!

    Surrender is the only freeing way to walk with the Lord. Not striving for our dreams, but faithfully pursing Him.

    Thanks for sharing. (Sorry this is so long.)
    Walking across the bridge,
    Joy

  4. Giving up dreams. Yeah, I’ve given up a few to be in God’s will for my life. Like you, Renee, being in the center of God’s will is exactly where I want to be.

    When a friend introduced me to my husband, I had a lot to contemplate. Could I give up my home, my friends, my church, my dream job (that I had only had a few months), and my hometown for marriage? Yes, I could…and I really couldn’t be happier. I answered God’s call for the man He wanted me to marry and I can tell you with complete honesty that my life is full of joy and peace and love. What I gave up (which was a lot at the time) is NOTHING compared with what God gave me in return. If you’re interested in reading the full story, you can go here http://rebeccatyndall.blogspot.com/2008/05/miss-independent-not-anymore.html.

    Your gentle and encouraging words always speak peace and love into my life. It’s like I’m sitting with a friend sharing conversation over a cup of coffee. And it doesn’t get much better than that!

    Thanks for the comment you left on my blog. You left me encouraged and inspired! And yes, God is starting to deal with me concerning people as well. I’m sure I’ll be posting more on this topic as God deals with my heart on this matter.

    Prayers and blessings,
    Rebecca

  5. I love those verses in Is. 43. They mean the world to me — the promies of him being with us even in the midst of hard.

    Trying to think if there was a time God said, “Wait.” I’m sure there has been . . . .

    I don’t know it is quite the same, but last spring I had been saving for a purchase. I was all excited and still saving. Then I saw it on sale…. I WANT kicked in. I did some creative finance thinking. I got money out of the bank and then went to the store. God said, “Now redo the FINANCES RIGHT.” I did. I drove back to the bank and put everything back where I needed it.

    When I did have the finances a couple months later I got it at a different store, on sale, and $10 less than the first time. And there was no creative thinking on my part!

  6. Hi Refreshmom,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your story. Please don’t ever apologize for a long response. I loved it! My looonnng post warrants some looonnng comments. Makes me feel like we’re all having this lingering conversation. I love that each of us has different stories. So glad you shared yours!

    Joy, I think that is the story. THANKS YOU SO MUCH!!!

    I loved reading your stories Amy, Joy and Rebecca too. Isn’t it encouraging how we all have something to share that may be the same truth – but in a different life lesson.

    You are the reason I blog friends – well you and the fact that writing really does help me to see God’s activity and presence in my every day life!

    Have a great Sunday!
    Renee

  7. I’ve had to lay some dreams down over the years. One of them came when I moved with my husband and two sons to NC where he would assume the role of his first pastorate. I didn’t want to move…at all. I didn’t want the lifestyle of the itineracy (been there, done that). I didn’t want to relocate my sons who had already known so many upheavals in their tender young years. I didn’t want to leave my job, family, new house, and hometown (again).

    But more than all of my “didn’t’s”…

    I didn’t want to be the reason my husband denied the calling that God had placed upon his heart years earlier (long before we met). That’s one regret I wasn’t going to carry.

    It was the right, good, and very hard thing to do, and all those dreams of raising my children in the town where I grew up?

    Well, God has given us all new dreams. New siblings and new lives. My parents have even moved to NC within 45 minutes of us.

    You asked…the list of surrendered dreams far extends this one, but I think this is enough for today.

    peace~elaine

  8. Renee,
    Thanks for sharing the next chapter, it’s a joy to read about God’s hand in your life. And I love the way you make me think about the way He works in mine.

    As far as a verse, about 2 years ago I shared the beginning of a book God was laying on my heart with a friend. I’ve always been one to write, but sharing was a rarity, anyway she expressed the value in it and suggested I keep praying about. Well, I did that and more as I wrote in my prayer journal. The verse on the very page I was writing nearly jumped off the paper, “You must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord touched my mouth and said, “See I have put My words in your mouth.” Jeremiah 1:7b-9

    The words weren’t a coincidence as fear and doubt were keeping me from believing in this and in a way even wanting to do it. The part of being afraid of the people really hit home because I knew the message He was calling me to share was one some people close to me wouldn’t understand. I grew up believing a Christian was someone who went to church and tried to do good, now that I understand there is much more than that I’ve become religious in the eyes of some and misunderstood at times. So since this was about some of the struggles that created and the power of a spiritual mom, I had been telling God (not a good thing) why even write this when it will just hurt my mom and create even more tension.

    As this is taking place our pastor starts a series on Timothy – how we’re not to be timid or weak, the importance of mentoring – anyway God constantly had my attention with those verses and finally I submitted and He put the words on paper.

    All along I still worried about things with my family, but obedience won out and I continued to write figuring it would end there. This past Christmas I finished my book and realized it was about more than mentoring, it was a way for me, one who doesn’t always speak up real well, to share my faith.

    Finally by February, I shared what I wrote with my parents not knowing what to expect, but trusting it was what God wanted me to do. Their reaction wasn’t good, but I had peace because of obedience. I had predicted this would be the end of this book journey but that didn’t happen.

    I assumed the door would close, but it has not. I’m still not sure what comes next, but I’m making myself available and trust God isn’t finished with it yet. I’m at a place of waiting and though I’ve thought about what it could look like, I’ve given it to Him and trying to enjoy the journey.

    Just this morning our pastor was preaching on 1 Peter 1:14-16, how we are to be called holy, just like God. Wow, that’s responsibility. He said how do we do that – obedience, God will give us the desire to obey Him and the ability to do it, but we need to do it!! He concluded by asking, “Did Jesus allow feelings to dictate his actions?” I think we all know the answer to that and I’m afraid to say when my name is inserted in the question, the answer is not the same.

    As I look back though it is great to see how God has melted and molded me, so I look ahead with promise knowing He is faithful.

    Renee, thank you for sharing and you mentioned not apologizing for length so I won’t do that, but will thank you for the opportunity to sit, reflect and praise God for the work He has done.

    Have a blessed day, Jill

  9. Hi, Renee.

    Love this story of how God spoke to your heart so beautifully and clearly. He is amazing. Doesn’t He loves us so tenderly?

    I remember a specific time in my life where He whispered to my heart “Be still, be quiet and wait”. I did. Several years later, in His timing, He made all things well in that situation. There was no striving on my part. He is faithful and gentle.

    God is doing much in my heart right now. Like you said, spending time with Him is so sweet and like a “honeymoon”. I thirst for Him and His Word every day. My morning time with Him is something I crave. I pray HE always keeps my heart postured like that for Him.

    Jim had minor surgery yesterday (on a Saturday!) and I had extra excellent, extended study and quiet time in the hospital waiting room (I was the only one there!). I wrote so much down in my journal…I couldn’t wait to share it with Jim.

    Well, I feel a longer response/comment coming on here. Loved your post and heart!

    The asparagus is now over-steamed and I smell the main dish ready in the oven. Better go! I love Sunday dinners!

    Love and hugs,
    Sharon 🙂

  10. Hi Renee
    Just read your blog on writing and publishing. I’ve written since I was 12(now I’m just old) and had been trying to get something published for almost 10 yrs. I am a published author through Tate Publishing (somewhat self-publisher). The book that is published is NOT the one I would have chosen since it is my personal journal, but I believe it is the one God chose for me, to give hope to other women.
    The year and few months that it took to get an actual copy into my hands was just the beginning. I have to ask myself each day, “Do I believe what I wrote?” And if I do, I have to tell others. I have also learned that writing is just one part. The relationships that I build along the way as I promote my book and the influence I hope to share may speak louder than any amount of words I could write.
    I am so grateful to God for the opportunity of authoring a work that I pray will set many free.

  11. Even from the time we were in China to adopt Maggie, I felt that we would be back to adopt another child. We were all ready to begin the paperwork for our second child last winter but roadblock after roadblock was thrown in our way. Door after door was closed and we began wondering if God was trying to tell us, “No.” At this point in my life, I still don’t know the final answer to our request to God for another child but for now, we wait. It’s all we can do.

  12. Renee,

    In 2001 when I was assaulted my mind set was I would do the “usual stuff” at church and that would be enough. I was busting my neck at work and trying to be the “perfect” mom. It was about all the awards, the degrees and “things” I could put in frames and on the wall. The moment I was struck, I had to lay down my dreams and future thoughts of being a Chef and teacher again. After the 11 surgeries it has taken to put me back to some usable state, I became so over being a Chef. My kitchen (designed for a Chef) was such heartache every time I stepped into it. Three years ago God started nudging my heart to teach for him, instead of the classroom. In my kitchen were these beautiful pictures of “things I use to do”, i.e.: ice-sculptures, wedding cakes and such. I went into my kitchen and took them all down. Last fall I got a call from this wonderful restaurant that I use to partner with. It teache’s people with disabilities how to work in the kitchen. The owner said these words to me “Diane, the request came in for a Chef who is disabled to teach a class to our spinal cord group”. I nearly fell out; God was sending me a direct message. I had a new eagerness to return to the kitchen. I have replaced pictures of the “things I can do” for the ones I had done. I taught the class and it was written up in the paper, it was strangest thing. I was embarrassed because it had become so not about me. It is what I can do with God’s strength and love. He gets the glory, not me. The coolest thing is I don’t need it anymore, I have enough just being His child. Since the class I have decided to rewrite my cookbook I published 4 years ago. This time I am going to tell those who have disabilities how to make it as well. God has given me the perfect name “If You Can’t Stand To Cook”.
    The dreams and things that I had to put on hold don’t seem to matter much anymore. They have been replaced with new ones that fit my walk with Him now. It is the hardest thing to admit that getting assaulted was the best thing that had happen to me. It got me back with the Father living his desires for me.
    Thanks for blogging and sharing your heart,
    Cyber hugs,
    Diane

  13. The reoccuring theme in my walk right now is to encourage others in the dream God has for them. You may have read the book,the Dream Giver, by Bruce Wilkinson. It takes you through the ‘Journey of our Heart’ where dreams are planted : ) That book had such an impact in helping me understand where I was in my walk. God had told me to ‘open my hands’. I knew that He was either going to take something away or give me something. I started seeing feathers falling from the sky ALL the time. When I first heard of the Dream Giver book, I had to buy it that day. In the book, there is a picture of open hands with a feather lying in them. I almost fell out when I saw that picture! I was at a writing/speaking conference in Knoxville when I noticed the picture. He was saying yes to me! My passion is to share Jesus with the world…really share Him with the world. It has begun.
    Zech 4:10

    10 “Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.

    “(These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)”
    NIV

    Now He shows me people that have a God given dream. He wants me to encourage them. I give the Dream Giver book away all the time. Amazon.com must be wondering what’s up. I brought one to She Speaks because I knew God was going to show me a dreamer. He did. Sweet Julie! I love to connect with people who’s dream can only be accomplished by walking by faith with Him…and that is all of us!

  14. Renee,
    My sweet sister! I see your life like one of the beautiful flowers in my garden. The gladiolas are in full bloom right now and you, my friend look just as lovely. There are blooms up and down the stalk, each bursting forth at staggered times.

    So I do not see your dream on hold, I see it opening, one bloom at a time.

    The prayer on my heart today I will share with you:

    Father, thanks for showing your wonderful self to us in so many avenues of life! Thank you for opening the pages of Your word to just the right places where we can be nourished. Thank you for giving us the ability to touch one another through this fascinating media that allows spontaneous praise and worship together. How marvelous You are! How incredible that you weave us together in surprising ways!

    And we know Lord that you are not finished with us. We know that you are working on us daily to bring us to completion. So when the hard times come remind us that we are being molded to resemble your Son!

    Teach us to fall on our knees for one another and send the message forward to those who don’t yet know the vastness of your amazing love! You reach down to pick up every hurting heart when we cry out to you. May we look around today to see hurting hearts who cannot utter a sound and need us to be their voice. Will you give us the insight to see others the way you see them today?

    Guard our hearts and our tongues from feeling, acting or saying anything that would fall outside of your will. Fill us with your Spirit we pray, in Jesus’ name, amen.

  15. I love this story, Renee! Thanks for sharing. I look forward to hearing more! 🙂

  16. My husband and I became engaged while we were in college. We were both so happy and eagerly looking forward to marriage. Then God gave my husband the verses about Abraham and Isaac when Abraham was told to sacrifice his son.

    My then fiance knew that it was something that God was calling us to do with our relationship. I fought it for several months and wouldn’t let go. Finally I knew that I had to. God was asking me if I loved Him enough to let go my future plans and trust Him no matter what the outcome. After months of struggle I finally surrendered with open hands.

    It was several months later before he proposed again and we knew that this time God would allow us to marry.

    Throughout our marriage God has several times asked me to let something go. Do I love Him enough to let go and trust Him with the outcome even when I may not get the answer I like. I again experienced this when we tried for a couple years to get pregnant. I finally got pregnant and had a miscarriage. After complete surrender God surprised us with pregnancy and our first son was born.

    So I have learned and continue to learn not to hold onto things so tightly. I keep reminding myself of that now that my husband is under tremendous stress at work. I know that he can’t handle much more and will likely soon be looking for another job. That is scary since he is our sole breadwinner. But I pray that I will have my hands open and uplifted to God and say, “It’s yours Lord. Everything we have and own is because of you. Help us to trust you even in the midst of an uncertain future.”

    Sorry I was so wordy Renee. I am enjoying reading your story. I look forward to hearing more. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    Blessings,
    Pearls

  17. Oh Renee, this is exactly what God is teaching me or taking me through right now. I am waiting for some answers from Him but right now He is giving me a WAIT. That means it is not time to give me the clear direction and I have to submit to that. I am confident He is in charge and all things are in His hands and as long as I do not get lazy I am good with that. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your story-it is an encouragement to me and my obedience to Him>
    Much love,
    Angela

  18. Hey Renee.

    That song I emailed you about. I found out Marty has a site and you can listen to the whole thing there.

    http://cdbaby.com/cd/martyfeldhake

    It is “Hope Hears the Music”

    I hope you are having a great day.

  19. I must say to each of you ladies – thank you! Your stories read straight from your heart – a heart that desires and seeks God’s will above all that the world offers, it encourages me more than you know. You see, God is currectly asking me to lay downs my dreams and all that I know as well. He’s asking my husband and I to move from Columbus, Ohio to Charlotte, NC. My sweet husband said today, he must have something amazing in store to ask us to leave everything he has given us here.

    Funny, but I too clearly heard the Lord speak the word, “wait” to me too. Nothing more, nothing less, just wait. I gotta tell ya, this girl wants to know SO MUCH more! But wait I will, wait and trust.

    Thanks again for sharing your heart Renee. It’s just what I needed to hear today (again!)

  20. Your comments about the honeymoon phase touched my heart. When I first became a Christian, God was my sanity and my everything. Like a prodigal child, I strayed and He welcomed me back. Over the years my relationship has drifted but I always love my God and am thankful for the blessing of His son Jesus.

    Sincere

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