Thank You, Philippians 4

AutumnsPromiseGiving up control is really hard for me. It’s why I never was any good at skiing—I never wanted to go too fast. Going fast puts you at risk, you know. There’s a chance of falling. Yet, of course, the consequences of choosing not to sail down the hill are great. Going slower hurts your knees. The skis don’t move as easily. There’s an even greater chance of falling—and getting hurt.

Yes, I learned all about falling on the ski slopes when I went to the University of Colorado.

Yet still, time and again, I try my best to stay firmly “in charge.” I’ve tried to “manage” things. Plan. Organize. Make lists. Check. Double check. My poor family’s used to my need for control. Sometimes they let me be in the driver’s seat. Sometimes they even let me pretend I’m in control . . . and then they do what they want.

Over time, I’ve become at peace with that.

Since I like to write books, my quirky character trait works well for me. Being a bit of a control freak is a good thing when you have a whole group of made-up characters just waiting to do what you want! But every once in a while, I’m reminded that God has a different way of looking at things.

I was really reminded of that when I was working on Autumn’s Promise, the third book in my Seasons of Sugarcreek series. My deadline had gotten moved up so Autumn could have an August release date and Grace could come out in October. On paper, it was no problem. I write fast, and writing is my only job, so I’ve got lots of time to spend in front of the computer.

Except, things weren’t going so well with that plan. In short, I was past deadline, and I was never past deadline. Each morning I would wake up, a bundle of nerves, and make myself sit in front of the computer with the calendar right there, too. To remind myself that I needed to get the book done.

Of course (you might have guessed this was coming!), in spite of all my wants and reasons to work hard . . . I was really struggling. For the first time in a long time, I couldn’t think of anything to write. And I had to—I had more than a hundred pages to get done! I kept pushing and pushing myself. One day it took me six hours to write ten pages. Six hours! On a good day, I can get ten pages written in under two.

I was really frustrated.

By Friday, I was almost in tears. I had to get the book done. It had to be good, too; if it wasn’t the editor wouldn’t be shy about telling me. But I was really stuck. At a loss, I opened up a chapter from Philippians, the book our small group is studying. I reread the passage that we’d just discussed. Then I closed my eyes and relaxed.

Here’s what I read: Philippians 4: 4-7, verse 6. “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Finally, FINALLY, I realized that I needed help. I prayed for guidance. I began emailing people who I knew could help me. To my surprise, I heard from four people within the hour. One person even made a phone call and was able to help me with my research. God had placed lots of people in my life to help me over my little writing hurdle. All I had to do was reach out!

On Sunday when we went to church, I quietly gave thanks. I thanked God for reminding me that my best isn’t always good enough—and it doesn’t have to be. That when I stop trying to manage everything . . . when I open my heart (and eyes and ears and hands!) to His word . . . and to friends and family, the gifts come in abundance.

Two days later, with all that help, I finished the book. : )

That experience, though it was rather rough and tough for me, was a learning experience, I think. It reminded me, of course, that I don’t have to do anything all on my own. That I don’t have to always be my best. On some days, I just have to be me. The stumbling girl who tries really hard, but sometimes needs a whole lot of help so I don’t fall.

Dear Lord,
I stand before you so grateful for all the blessings you given me. Thank you for giving me opportunities to remember that you are in charge. And that with your help, anything is possible.

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Shelley Gray (10 Posts)

Shelley is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifteen Amish-themed novels for Avon Inspire.


  1. Cindi Altman says:

    I can certainly relate to the difficulty of giving up control. Thanks for this uplifting message and reminder.

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