The Joy of Experiencing God
First of two parts
By Ken Walker-
Nearly 20 years have passed since my wife and I completed our original study of the Experiencing God workbook. But Henry Blackaby’s seminal title made the kind of impression that I remember as if it took place last week.
Aside from selling more than two million copies and being translated into 40 languages, the study’s personal meaning came from a daily assignment to take a prayer walk. Blackaby noted to not only talk to God, but to listen for His voice.
The day of my walk, I was on the verge of flying to California to attend the noted Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. The keynote speaker was Jerry Jenkins. I had read several of books and looked forward to some private workshops for professional writers he would lead.
Full of Regret
As I walked, I felt filled with regret for the foolish way I had spent my late teens and 20s. Here I was, only about a year younger than Jenkins, and nowhere near as advanced in my career.
This was the year before the release of Jenkins and Tim LaHaye’s first Left Behind novel, which sparked off an explosion that ultimately made it the best-selling Christian fiction series in history.
Although much of the public didn’t recognize his name, Jenkins had already written around 100 books. Me? I was still searching for a publisher interested in releasing my first one.
I don’t remember that much of what I prayed that day, just that I expressed regret for all the time I had wasted before deciding God could do a better job of guiding my life than me.
What I do remember is God’s response: “I love you. Please believe that. I have things for you to do as well. So you haven’t done what Jerry Jenkins has? You’ve done things that he hasn’t done.”
A Memorable Time
There was more, but God made the point: He had things for me to do. That conference turned out to be memorable for more than one reason, starting with the fact that I walked off and left my travelers checks lying on the dresser. Meaning I found myself on the other side of the country with not much cash.
Fortunately, a friend I met in person for the first time that week loaned me $50 so I didn’t have to use a credit card constantly (and in those days, you couldn’t charge everything from a pack of gum to a Big Mac.)
More importantly, I met four editors from publishing houses who I thought might be interested in the manuscript I had been working on for two years—and unsuccessfully trying to sell.
Three agreed to look at sample chapters and two of those editors expressed further interest. Finally, on the verge of one making an offer, the other called to see if the book was still available. When I told him I had a tentative offer, he replied that he didn’t want to get in a bidding war and to let him know if anything changed.
Answering His Call
About a year later, the book came out. I had written a few small, self-published works, but this the first honest-to-goodness-available-in-bookstores-nationwide type of book.
It never went beyond a first printing. The publisher sold off the last couple thousand at bargain-bin prices.
None of that mattered, though. Thanks to Blackaby’s workbook, I had had a heart-to-heart talk with God and heard the kind of reassurance that I needed at that time. I knew He had things for me to do—and still does.
Next: Present-day application.