Friday, April 6, 2012

Jennifer Slattery on: When God Has Other Plans

Everyone's Story welcomes Jennifer Slattery as its new guest this week. Jennifer has a strong internet presence in the writing world as well as ministries and her involvement with ACFW (American 
Christian Fiction Writers). We writers work with words and although we all know that once words are spoken or written they can be edited, rephrased, clarified, and apologized over, but even if retracted, will certain words ever be forgotten or erased? 
And, of all things, what kind of Easter message is this and why is it being posted on Good Friday? A very strong and beautiful one told eloquently by Jennifer. 

Jennifer looks forward to hearing from you. Come say a hello. Have your own WORD-story to share? Jennifer would love to hear from you.

Surrendering To The Call by Jennifer Slattery

Although I’ve always enjoyed writing as a hobby and stress reliever, I didn’t grow up dreaming to write. In fact, I wanted to do anything but! 

God had other plans. 

I fought God’s call for a while, telling Him all the reasons I couldn’t—shouldn’t write. My biggest hindrance was a deep shame for a sinful and broken past, and a lack of trust in human nature. God and I went rounds, until my disobedience got in the way of my relationship with Him. So I obeyed tentatively, with a long list of qualifiers all centered on one thing—self-protection. 

But the more I wrote, the more broken lives I encountered.  God showed me people living in shame from past regrets, people struggling with feelings of failure. Moved by compassion, I began to openly share my failings, my selfishness, and my fears, so that others could see the depths of God’s love and grace. A beautiful thing happened. I found this enabled others to do the same. 

I thought I’d reached full surrender, and yet, God’s work in me wasn’t finished. Amidst my obedience, God saw a thread of self-protection holding me back—my fears of being an inadequate servant. 

A short time ago, responding in pain and anger, I sent an ugly email to a fellow Christian. Although I apologized within an hour of doing so, it wasn’t long before others became involved. This hit on one of my deepest fears—the one barrier left between full surrender. 

Courtesy Google Images
My first reaction was self-protection. I wanted to retreat, to isolate. I told God this wasn’t part of our bargain and reminded Him of our initial conversation.  After a day of tears, Bible study, and prayer, God showed me a bigger work, exposing some heart-issues He wanted to deal with.  After addressing my sin, He directed me to Psalm 86 which talks about trusting in God, seeking help from Him, and learning His ways. My ways are to lash out, to withdraw, to isolate. He longs for humility, full surrender, and unhindered obedience. 

Psalm 86:2, 4-5, 11 “Protect me, for I am devoted to you.
Save me, for I serve you and trust you.
You are my God. … Give me happiness, O Lord,
for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.

Through this experience, I learned sin is painful and often has long-term effects. Had I practiced self-control instead of lashing out in anger, this ugly mess never would have occurred. And yet, once I confessed my sin and asked for forgiveness, God showed me yet again the depths of His grace. He then offered me an opportunity to rest in His grace or stay focused on my mistake.

We all have fears, sinful behaviors, and wounds that hinder our service. If not diligently and prayerfully fought against, they get in the way of our calling. We’re fallen people living in a fallen world among fallen humans. Paul faced judgment, Peter faced remorse, David faced shame, and Joseph faced betrayal. And yet, somehow they moved past these things and kept their eyes on their Creator.  God calls me—us—to do the same, throwing off everything that hinders to run with perseverance the race mapped out for us. For me, that means surrendering to the call of writing, even if it means self-exposure. 

What about you? Is there anything holding you back from full surrender? 
Courtesy of Jennifer Slattery

Author Bio:

Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband and daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the ACFW Journal, Jewels of Encouragement, and Internet Café Devotions, and her work has appeared in numerous publications and compilation works.

Visit her online at:

Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud <>
Clash of the Titles <>
Internet Cafe Devotions <>
Jewels of Encouragement <>
Facebook  <>


  1. Oh how I relate! For me I know there are things holding me back from complete surrender, even though I couldn't tell you what they are. Once one layer is peeled away, another is discovered. So I continually ask for cleansing of that which hinders me ... whatever I've discovered today. God's WIP.

    1. Welcome back, Connie. Did you know that my Twitter bio has me as "my Father's work in progress"? And it's so true. Each time I think I'm finally getting it--knowing exactly what to do--and sure enough I don't, and He has to teach me all over again.

  2. Connie and Elaine, how encouraging to know I'm not the only work in progress. :) I'm so grateful for grace! Have a redeemed and forgiven Easter!

  3. Oh, I have been there before!! And even though the words couldn't be taken back, the lessons that were learned from the mistakes have changed the way I am with people.

  4. Jennifer is one of my favorite people. God bless her for sharing her story. What a heart this woman has for the Lord and for others who need to know about God's grace and His mercy.

  5. A fond hello & joyous Easter greetings, Sheri & Fay.

  6. Sherri, those lessons can be painful, but what an opportunity for growth they provide! God is such a patient, compassionate Father! And when we sin, which will we will, it only reveals the depths of God's grace.

    Fay, you are such a sweetie! And I'd say the same. Your wisdom and grace has blessed countless within the ACFW body throughout the years.

    Happy redeemed and forgiven day!

  7. Jennifer,

    How brave of you to share such a personal story. We have all done things in haste that we have come to regret. But the wonderful outcome of this is that after we surrender to God, He send His peace.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Sending Blessings,

    KB Schaller, Author

    1. Always nice to see you, KB, my friend.

      Easter is such a perfect time to reflect upon what God does--and has done--for us because of the very things we have done in our earthly walks.

      Easter blessings

  8. Thank you, KB! Honestly, this was a hard post to write, and I really, really wanted to send Elaine an email asking her not to post it last minute. But I felt like it was important. It's great to talk about our moments of triumphs, but I think others need to hear of our struggles, as well. Not just of our struggles, but of the God of mercy, power, and grace who reaches down to us and continually draws us to ourselves.

  9. Jennifer,

    I know the feeling of "second thoughts". I even emailed Elaine not to post my comment. She assured me it was okay, so I went ahead with it.

    As for our feelings of shame over our past, Luke 5:32 says it best: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

    So, those of us who are broken, repentent of heart, who know we are unworthy, are the very ones who appreciate most what the Salvation message is all about.

    KB Schaller

  10. Beautifully put, KB! (And in my previous comment, I meant God draws us to Himself. :) )

    May we never forget the cost and beauty of grace!

  11. Each of us has done things we regret. I see writing popular fiction as a way to show the process of God's plans in our lives, how each decision builds toward another, and that each of us can be redeemed. One of my favorite books has received two harshly crtical reviews on Amazon, one of which says the hero is beyond redemption and was not hero material. In my opinion, no one is beyond redemption!

    1. Welcome back, Caroline--so happy to see you again. Excellent comment. God certainly loves us all and gives us to the very last second of meeting Him after leaving our Earthly life to be redeemed and I am so grateful for that because every day I re-learn how much I truly need His mercy and forgiveness because oh, I am such a human being.

  12. Love your comment, Caroline! And I love fiction with real characters! I've often wondered how we would respond today if someone like Paul walked into our church. It begs the question--is grace not enough? Was Jesus' redemptive work on the cross not truly the payment for ALL sin? or did He intend to add a qualifier? lol

    And Amen, Elaine!

  13. Jennifer, it may be the close of yet another week at Everyone's Story, but I believe within my heart it's the continuation of the hope & forgiveness that you've shared with us all. Thank you for your bravery to open up to us, to be an example that our Lord loves us and is always ready to guide and forgive us.

    ♡ Elaine

  14. Elaine, thanks for having me! It was an honor!

  15. Jennifer, I can so identify with you. I seem to have a split personality. I have been somewhat withdrawn and a loner because I don't easily trust. Yet, over the years I have become more and more transparent in a search for someone who would be honest and say, "I understand your anger with God because I've experienced it, too." On occasion my anger would come out in an email. Eventually I dropped out of church for nine years. When I resurfaced, God directed me to Christians who were transparent and real. Through those relationships my perspective of God grew healthy.


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