Discernment during years of silence

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:4 (NLT)

Abiding in the Lord is not only the first step in living as Christ’s follower; it is the continuing reality that makes discernment possible. I know the difference between good and evil, but I often find it more challenging to know the difference between what is good and what is right for me to do. Discerning takes practice; it takes listening and watching. We are promised guidance and a large part of discernment is learning to trust the guidance God gives.

The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Isaiah 58:11 (NLT)

I have been working towards writing and self-publishing a children’s book. I had known I wanted to tell a story from the Bible, but what story should I tell? There were seven stories I had worked with intimately as they had shaped my life on many levels, but I couldn’t choose one story to pursue, so I set aside the project temporarily.

Then in 2017, I was asked to do a reflection on the cross for Good Friday. I chose to speak through the life of Mary of Bethany. This is a wonderful story of a woman coming to faith and confidence in Jesus. Months after that Good Friday service, I suddenly realized that none of the seven stories I had been looking at would do because I needed to begin with Mary of Bethany’s story. The other seven stories were the stories of my childhood, but her story was the one I wish I had known better.

At last! I wrote the book.

To get to this stage in the writing process had taken years – months and weeks in which I learned to trust the guidance God gave and trust that waiting before beginning to write would be better than writing something I would have to delete later. God grew my strength, patience and my hospitality over these years as I learned to welcome His Holy Spirit inside of me. In those years of waiting silence, I learned that God Himself, not I, would move this project forward.

The process wasn’t finished though. Because this would be a children’s book, I needed pictures. However I am not an illustrator of children’s books and finding an illustrator who trusted in Jesus and could understand my goals for the book took me even longer. Yet still, I trusted that this book would become reality. My timetable didn’t matter in God’s plan and I only needed to continue being patient.

Over these months of social distancing and gradual reopening, the Lord introduced me to an artist whose work fits with my vision of the book. As she makes this story visual, my hope rises. Soon, this book will be available to share.