I have a treat for my blog readers today–author guest, Joanne Bischof, who is releasing her novella, This Quiet Sky, very soon! I devoured it in a single sitting, it was so good. And today she’s here. I don’t know about you, but her topic strikes such a chord in my heart. I hope it ministers to you as much as it’s ministered to me. Without further ado, here’s Joanne. . .
Bend the knee and be small.
How I love those words. They’re Ann Voskamp’s from a quote of hers that I’m eager to share, but first I have a question for you: Do you ever feel unsteady?
Like your feet can’t quite carry you through the task, trial, or journey you’re facing? You need a hand to hold. Something to brace yourself against. Or you just need to sink down to the ground and be small for a moment. I’ve had this time rather recently. Because I often find that it’s in the face of my very doubts and insecurities that the Lord challenges me to press onward… right through the depths. Have you had times like these? Maybe you’re in the midst of one.
As a writer, it seems that the very things I struggle with, God uses story to speak to me on them. He asks me to draw closer…allowing me to put words onto the page that will have me facing my very own doubts. Recently, I wrote a novella titled This Quiet Sky. It’s about a young woman who falls in love with a boy who isn’t expected to live a lot longer. His name is Tucker, and he has cancer. The concept immediately felt too daunting and I was considering throwing in the towel before I even typed the first word. But as I considered turning away from the project, I saw those around me who had real hurts and trials. Their own kind of just-too-big-for-me journeys. The part of me that believed that a story like this didn’t belong in Christian romance began to fade and that still small voice asked—why not?
There’s a scene in the story that struck close to home on this. Its right after the heroine has recently met the hero. She knows he’s ill and because of peoples’ superstitions surrounding it, he doesn’t really have friends. She finds herself at a crossroads: be his friend—and risk her heart—or turn away and ignore any what-ifs. The pressing to do the right thing came strong for her.
Suddenly I knew what I had to do. Still trembling with the task at hand, I found myself settling down at the keyboard, whispering, “Alright, God. Show me…”
Even as I quaked at the notion of getting closer to these characters that had been taking shape in my heart, I couldn’t let my fears get the best of me. If the desire was there to write a heroine who was brave enough to settle down beside this young man and be his friend, and give him her heart, despite it all…I had to be brave enough to follow along with pen and paper. I began to pray that there would be readers out there who would feel the same.
In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp says:
“Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy’s flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.”
So I did that, I let go of my fears. And I held on to Him.
I felt his strength around my hands with each word typed on a story that felt beyond me. I felt His presence in the nights I woke, unable to sleep because the words were coming now. They were slamming forward, needing to get out and the more this happened, the clearer this love story became. The clearer the roots beneath this purpose became. And I remember feeling very small. And thanking God for being so, so big.
I realize now that it’s not about my fears or insecurities of what will come of this story. It’s about facing the call when it comes. It’s about the world that we live in. Like Sarah when she chose to be Tucker’s friend, it’s about others. Humanity and the trials that each of us face. It’s about the ones we ache to hold. The ones we dream about. Whether our hearts live several thousand miles away in the faces of our future children, lay curled up in a hammock beside our beloved, or pound with anticipation as we lace up our shoes—determined to run toward a cure—it’s for those who we will soon hold close. And those who we hold close only in our hearts, knowing that one day we will meet again.
I’m grateful that God has been taking me on this journey because it gave me the chance, once again, to witness how amazing He is when I trust. It’s still a journey and I still have ups and downs, but I’m thankful that He’ll be with me each step of the way.
How about you? Who or what in your life do you bend the knee and be small for?
Christy Award-finalist and author of Be Still My Soul and Though My Heart is Torn, Joanne Bischof has a deep passion for Appalachian culture and writing stories that shine light on God’s grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, folk music, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life. You can learn more about her upcoming novella and more about Joanne by visiting her website: http://www.joannebischof.com/