WARNING: This is a no-edit zone . . .
Recently I had eye surgery. The recovery time was projected to be two-and-a-half weeks. But the damage was more extensive than believed, and therefore the surgery more complex. Fortunately, I was blessed with a fabulous doctor prepared to deal with it, though I have to say that coming out of anesthetic to find my eyes sewn shut was a shocker.
Being blind for a writer is like a painter who can’t see color. Imagine you in your life, and how you would have reacted. Yet before I could even panic, someone was right there to tell me that it was temporary. Three days only.
That crooked place that could have caused so much anguish was made straight.
And it was temporary, so that one too was straightened.
Over and again, challenges cropped up that carried fears, and over and over again those fears were quickly put to rest.
But then the recovery time stretched. It’s been over a month, and my vision still isn’t normal, though it is much improved. But I hadn’t anticipated this lengthy recovery time, and so meeting my commitments became a serious challenge. I had a conference to attend, two lectures to prepare, and feedback on my first Crossroads Crisis Center, FORGET ME NOT, was due in from my editor.
I needed to prepare. I couldn’t see to do it. I couldn’t stand the light from the computer screen, and because the eye muscles had been cut, they tired easily. A couple paragraphs and I was history for hours. The knots in my stomach had knots.
In all my years of writing, I’ve been late on a deadline once. Once, when I was caring for my dying mother, and then I needed an additional two weeks. Messing up someone else’s schedule really bothers me. I know what it does to me when it happens to mine, so I do what I must to avoid it. But this time, I couldn’t avoid it, and while my editor repeatedly offered me extra time if needed, I knew I’d be adding late nights and early mornings to her schedule to accept. I prayed on it. Hard. And I cited the verse captioned above, Isaiah 45: 1-3, which I’ve cited so often, I knew by heart.
I didn’t see a way to fix this challenge. Jesus repeatedly said let he who has eyes see, but mine were in the shop, so to speak. Healing, yes. But not healed, and they wouldn’t be in time to get these workshops and revisions done. Let’s face it, when you can’t read the words on the page, you’ve got a serious challenge in writing words on a page. It wasn’t something I could just hire someone to read to me and fix. I needed a writer’s mind and eye, and a lot of that writer’s time. But you know what a writer’s time is worth, and so you’re very reluctant to ask them for a week of theirs–even if they’re a good friend. I couldn’t impose like that. So I prayed for healing, strength, wisdom and help. I didn’t know what to do. So I sent God an intense SOS.
He knew exactly what to do. A writer friend, Kathy Carmicahel, who had helped me right after the surgery, wanted to come to the conference. She came early–it’s a long drive and she didn’t want to be worn out when she got here.
I’d been reading the editorial feedback in snatches, a couple paragraphs at a time, but I had trouble remembering it, and what I wanted to do with it–I was defeated on my own. But Kathy read to me, and then wrote my notes. What could have been a defeat turned into a victory. We went through the entire thing and I had notes on what to do and where to do it. She’d read the manuscript already. She was a writer–a very good writer. And she looked at the work through a writer’s eyes. I didn’t see how it could be done, but God did, in Kathy’s willing heart. That crooked place was made straight.
She agreed to do the lectures with me at the conference. We made and printed handouts and a bullet list of things to be sure to cover. With that as assurance the attendees would get what they needed, I could talk on these topics off the top of my head. We ended up filling in and doing a third workshop with no time to prepare, but together, it worked, and went well. On all three workshops, we were repeatedly given unsolicited positive feedback. One attendee even said that one of the workshops was worth the cost of the entire conference. My relief that they weren’t disappointed was immense. I didn’t see how that could happen, but God did, and that crooked place was made straight.
We also filled in doing a welcome address–Kathy reading the names of guests and presenters, and me off the top of my head. No one threw food, so I’m guessing it went okay. That crooked place was made straight.
And we did about an hour-long interview with Talk Radio’s Elaine Tucker and Ken Walsh. I hadn’t expected that, but it went well, and was actually fun. Like sitting with a group of people with similar interests and just chatting. I’m guessing that went well; I got double hugs from the hosts afterward, and an additional 25 people, I’m told, came in and signed up for the conference. No doubt that was due to the skills of the hosts. That crooked place was made straight.
I worried about navigating at the conference, but Kathy was there, and when we’d come upon a slant in the walk or an incline, she’d warn me. That fear soon dissipated, and that crooked path was made straight.
I could share more, but those things are enough to illustrate my point. Sometimes we entertain angels unaware. Sometimes God elects to instead use willing hearts. In this case, Kathy’s willing heart.
I learned a lot from this experience.
I learned that if I’ll just trust God, he’ll straighten those crooked places. When I see no way, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one; only that I can’t see it. But He can. Trust Him, ask Him, and He’ll do more than you can imagine.
I learned that when lecturing at a conference, the last thing you need to worry about is that your hair is brushed not styled, your face is bare and not made up. I still had swelling and bruises, but no one cared. They were appreciative that I’d come to share with them in spite of those things. When you get nervous in the future, remember that. It’s what comes from you on the inside that you want to share and that others are most eager to hear.
I could have bowed out and stayed home. But if I had, I’d have left Joyce in a lurch. She works all year long on this conference and that would just be unacceptable. Personal pride had to take a hit, but that proved to be a good thing. I expected to be uneasy. I had a fabulous time and laughed at times until my sides hurt. Lesson? When pride gets out of the way and you do what needs doing the best you can, your own crooked places are made straight. That insight was an unexpected, supernatural blessing. God really is happy when you trust Him and ask Him for help.
We all have crooked places. At home, work, in our relationships, and inside us. Often we stew and mull and search everything and everywhere except God for ways out, solutions, resolutions. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. Usually we have a little success–just enough to get us out of crisis.
But if we trust God, ask Him for help, he doesn’t give us partial fixes. We are His and he wants us to have abundant life, joy, not to exist just shy of crisis. The lesson in that–and the major lesson of this experience–is to go to God first. Before you get the knots in your stomach and drag yourself through hell worrying. Trust. Ask. The door will be opened and before you know it, a willing heart connects with a solution. A real solution.
Maybe you’ll entertain an angel unaware. Or maybe God will touch a willing heart like Kathy’s to facilitate a solution. How He does it is His domain. What I know now is mine. And what I know is that what Isaiah said was true and right.
God will go before you and make your crooked places straight.
P.S. to Kathy (if you ever read this): Thank you for having a willing heart. You’re a blessing. One straight from God.