It seems that mostly in life changes don’t get made as clearly and dramatically as they do in dramas or books. Real life — people — are messier than portrayals of them. They make moves in the right direction, then back away, or veer off, then come back, start again, only to get sidetracked once more.
Especially for those who wish to go forward in the course and plan God’s designed for them. Because we have an enemy. I have a quote on my bulletin board about that — about Satan knowing how to attack mind, body and emotions; about his intent being to stop us from going forward in God’s plan for our lives.
So last week, as I was trying yet again to be regular with writing time, and things kept coming up — holidays, losing things, having things break or go wrong — and somehow I wasn’t getting in nearly as much time on the book as I’d hoped. (It didn’t help that I’m still blank headed about it for the most part.) And that quote kept coming to mind.
I wondered, though, that if it was happening now, might that not have been what was happening all along?” I don’t think so… but I’m still not entirely sure. I do believe there was a time I was supposed to be resting, and gradually God’s brought me now to a different place. A different “season.”
Because on that same day a few hours after I had those thoughts I tuned in for live Bible Class from Florida (Thursday, May 31) and everything became clear.
Pastor Farley’s language was so precise to my situation that there is no longer any doubt. He’s been teaching about our race as Christians and the challenge we have to finish, as Paul did in 2 Timothy. It’s a race or a course that involves us being conformed to the image of Christ as we’re traveling along it, our thinking more and more being aligned with His thinking. The challenge is to stay faithful to the Word of God, not only to constantly learning and retaining it, but obeying it.
The problem is, we have an enemy, one that, as Pastor Farley said, “will do anything to get us off that road to spiritual maturity. ANYthing!”
In the past I’ve taken that to mean primarily being faithful to daily Bible class rather than the writing. But the fact is God has given me this gift to write and a contract still to fulfill. He has called me to write this book.
In the last few weeks our lessons have been about the importance of being focused on our calling (or spiritual gift, the unique way each of us has been given to serve the Body of Christ), to step out in that area, to make it a priority. For many years I’ve complicated the issue by whining about my uncertaintly as to whether writing was really a spiritual gift. After all, “writing novels” is not on any of the lists in the Bible. I’ve never heard anyone teach that it is, except maybe for other writers at conferences… but they’re not pastors and anyway…
Well. I know now, without a doubt that it IS a part of my gift (which is exhortation) — and so I have no excuse. Can’t whine any more. No, it’s not like a lot of other peoples’ gifts, but so what? There are varieties of gifts, varieties within any particular category of gift, varieties of ministries with each gift and varieties of results.
So to drag my feet and let myself be distracted is basically disobeying the calling of God on my life. If He’s called me to do this and I go do somehing else to the point that when I get around to the book I’ve run out of time and/or energy… then that’s not taking my calling seriously.
Pastor Farley gave an example, which I’m going to personalize: You’re supposed to be heading north on I-10 to Phoenix, but it’s dark and boring, and you can’t see where you’re going and you see some lights off to the east. That looks more fun, more interesting, so you take an exit. To cater to your frivolous desires of the moment.
Reading email, blogs, messing with cards, reading a magazine, sying yes to other things because I think it doesn’t matter, or it won’t take that much time are frivolous desires if they are intruding on my time to write.
Pastor Farley said,
“[The kingdom of darkness] will see where we’re focused to resist and won’t use that, but something else. Something we’re not ready for. Things that look good, things the world tells you are good — your kid’s seventh sport, your job, all kinds of things. [Your house?] But if ANYTHING is taking you away from the Plan of God, it is WRONG.
For Abraham it was trying to keep his son alive [When God told him to take Isaac up to Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him]. So it can be anything that creeps into your life and takes you away from the course the Lord has you on.”
God the Holy Spirit used those words to open everything up. I used to be like this. I was pretty good at turning stuff away, turning a blind eye, keeping my focus on my work. I understood that if you didn’t do it every day, each succeeding day it would be harder to get around to it. But I lost touch with that.
And now it’s been recalled to mind, and I’ve turned a corner. Oddly, an old Thieme quote that I used to believe applied to housework as the calling as opposed to writing (as the self-indulgence), has been turned around to apply to the writing:
“Arrogance causes you to lose your sense of responsibility. You spend too much time thinking ‘What do I want?’ rather than ‘What does God want? What is right?’ Your desires become more important than your responsibilities. You’re no longer living life to please the Lord Jesus.”
I think illustration of Abraham helped so much because trying to keep Isaac alive would not always be the wrong thing for Abraham to do. We always seem to want some form of Law. Just tell me how it’s to be done and I’ll follow it every day from now on.
And then I won’t have to think about it. I can just do it and be assured of being right. But that’s not how God does things. So many things can be wrong at one time and right at the other. And the only way we can know the difference is by the guidance of God in our lives at the time…
Your last comments remind me of a lesson I learned a long time ago. We had a puppy and I was trying to teach him to heel. The trainer told us to take a different path each time we walked and sometimes to just turn around and go back the way we came. That way the dog learns to always keep his eye on you rather than trying to lead because he thinks he knows the way. And indeed when I tried it, I had a very upset puppy nipping my shoe because I was turning around and not going the usual way. As I was standing there laughing at him, I realized that this is what God does. He wants our eyes to always be on him so sometimes he takes us back and forth a few times. We, of course, think we ‘know the route’ and get very frustrated with him. We need to always keep our eyes on the Master.
What a wonderful illustration! I love it. And all the more because I’ve done the same thing with our dogs!
Thanks for sharing your journey, Karen.
Sounds like you’ve made a good and right decision.
It IS part of your spiritual gift, expressed in this way.
Mine is encouragement, for sure. Not clear what else, but that I know. And my book (soon to add an “s” to that!) is a BIG part of it…
So – yes – time to write, or in my case this week, to edit!
Onward and upward, to the high ground!!!
Awesome post. I’ve been going through something like this in my own life. Thanks for the reminder to keep my eyes on Him.
Writing must be a spiritual gift and if it is, it is definitely yours!! I am one that has been spiritually encouraged through your novels again and again. Sometimes stories are the tool that makes spiritual truths come to light for a person. God is so good to use something we enjoy so much (story) to teach us more about Himself. Praying for you as you press on to use the gift He’s given you.
Thanks for the reinforcement, Erin! I appreciate it more than I can say.
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