Posts Tagged 'Faith'

One Day At A Time

Well, I’m tired this week. Still getting over a cold I’ve had for over 10 days now. And We had a big weekend — my hubby wanted to throw a party for friends who’d helped him with this Bighorn Sheep Hunt last year, and so I helped. It was an all day affair on Saturday that started at 7am and lasted until 2am the next morning. After a few hours sleep, we started in on the clean up.  I had a nap after that.

Monday I was good — worked on Sky for three hours! — but Tuesday I crashed entirely. Slept almost all day. Watched TV all evening… (Well.. they were the season openers for NCIS and NCIS:LA, so… I’d have watched them anyway. Probably wouldn’t have sat there for VEGAS though…)

Today I was in the blank, wandering around the house staring at things mode. Trying to make sense of the notes I had for Sky, feeling like the entire premise was absurd and fatally flawed and how had I ever thought this was remotely interesting?

So I didn’t work on the next blog post I’d thought to do for my impromptu Light of Eidon week. In fact, I couldn’t even decide which one of several to do.

So I got the idea to go looking again at my early newsletters… the ones I put out right after Eidon released and found this bit from one I put out in April of 2003, written while I was deep into the writing of Book 2: The Shadow Within.

It applies today as surely as it applied nine years ago, and was actually a comfort to me to reread in my current circumstances.

One Day at a Time

I’ve been writing for a long time, and have never been a fast writer. I have always tended to go three steps forward and back up two. Sometimes I have to rewrite and rewrite until I get the thread right, and only then can I go on with the story.

Often I may go for two or three days getting nowhere at all, blank and empty and even indifferent. Then the doors will open, the scenes will emerge and all will be well. Until I hit the next blank spot.

Over the years I have tried setting up various writing schedules according to the generally accepted advice that if you want to complete a big project, you must divide it into increments, then proceed to carry out each increment in its time. I would make up my schedule of how many chapters I wanted to complete over a certain period of time, and determine that I would be professional and disciplined and Just do It! It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not, you just have to write it. Except . . .

I couldn’t.

Never have I managed to keep one schedule. Always I hit a snag, go over the allotted time, then hit another snag and another until the deadline I had set for myself fades into dim memory. I have received much friendly and helpful advice on how to deal with this, but none of it ever works.

Over the last few months, as I contemplated the remaining time I had left before Book 2 (The Shadow Within) is due, I found myself increasingly disturbed that I still hadn’t reached the point where I could sit down, plan out a schedule of work, then embark upon that work and be confident that it would all be done on time.

Throughout all this, the Lord was reminding me that I should be trusting Him about it, but the voice was too still and small, and the message too familiar.

I was too busy thinking about how much time I had left and comparing that with how much work I thought I had left to do. Too busy harassing myself to get to work, to be more disciplined, to force the story out. Too busy getting upset over outside things that came in to steal my time. Too busy beating my head against the wall–for it was all to no avail.

The story wasn’t coming any faster than it ever had. But the idea of stopping that, and giving it all over to Him? How could I do that? To do that would mean losing all control over it.

It wasn’t until I had that last ridiculous thought that I realized how silly I was being. I had no control over it anyway, so what’s the big deal about giving it over to Him?

Clearly I had a choice to make. Was I going to continue to seek to control the what for me is an uncontrollable process, flailing myself for my lack of progress and worrying about what would happen in the months to come when the Lord clearly tells me not to? Was I going to continue refusing to rest in Him, and instead seek to use my own strength and ability (obviously lacking) to handle this?

Cursed (miserable!) is the one who puts her trust in man. Or woman, as the case may be.

Finally, that verse, one I memorized long ago, got through. The light went on and I backed off.

So from here on out it’s one day at a time. I WILL stay out of the future. Whatever progress He gives me, I will accept, without making a fuss about what hasn’t been given. If I fail to concentrate or use my time wisely on any given day, I can have confidence that He knew, way back in eternity past, that I would fail and He took it into account when He made His plan.

If something comes up that diverts my time and energy away from the book, I will remember that it is also part of the plan, and that He has everything under control, knowing precisely how long it will take to make this book what He wants it to be. This is His book, not mine, so He’ll have to see that it gets done in spite of me. (I especially like that part.)

Now, at last, I can rest, knowing that even though I am “dust”, inadequate and weak, He is completely adequate and His strength will be perfected in my weakness. I may bungle my way through my days and the writing of this book, but He who is wise and good and faithful and gracious is at work in me nevertheless. And His Plan is not only perfect, it’s brilliant!

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord, for he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes.” ~ Jeremiah 17:7

Graced Out in Our Sleep

He gives to His beloved, even in her sleep…

The following is another of the articles I wrote for one of the editions of the email newsletter I used to send out before I started blogging. This one is a little embarrassing, because the things I, myself, wrote, are the things I, myself, still struggle to recall — and more important believe — way more than I’d like to admit.

♦♦♦

 Graced out in Our Sleep (From 2003 Newsletter)

I love the fact that none of this depends on me, that even though I do the work, it really doesn’t depend on me–not the publication, not the awards, none of it.

That’s been the lesson of the year–that I don’t need to get all frantic about getting everything done because my Lord will see that what needs to be done, is done. That the work I do is done for Him, and He will see to its disposition in accordance with HIS plan–and His timing–not mine.

Yet there seems to be this whole hierarchy of activities that we can get caught up in, thinking that if our work isn’t done in time or isn’t good enough or there isn’t enough of it, or whatever, that the whole thing will fail and happiness will elude us.

But true happiness does not spring from success in the world. Success may be stimulating and fun, but it doesn’t last. Because whatever work you accomplish or goal you achieve or award you win, there’ll always come a time when that gets to be old hat and you’ll need another accomplishment or another award.

And yet, as when we’ve lost our keys and go back to look in the same place over and over again, even though we know the keys aren’t there, in the same way we focus on this accomplishment thing. Thinking that if only we can get this next thing, that will provide the lasting satisfaction we crave.

And so we step onto that treadmill of running and working to achieve, getting up early, staying up late, trying to get ahead, looking for that pleasure or satisfaction or sense of contentment we think will be ours if we can just get “It.” Whatever “It” may be.

But it’s a lie and, as David says in the Psalms, it’s vain. True happiness is stable and eternal. It isn’t an emotion, but a state of mind independent of circumstances and arising out of one’s relationship with God.

Every good gift comes from Him, and true contentment lies in our fellowship with Him, in getting to know Him through His word, and seeing His grace and goodness and faithfulness as they work out in our daily lives. It’s believing Him when he says…

“Except the lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for he gives to His beloved even in his sleep. ~ Psalm 127: 1,2

I Know the Plans That I Have for You

Well, I’m not sure why I haven’t been posting. Off the top of my head I’m not sure what all I’ve been doing. Working some on Sky, doing Morning Routines, making cards (I have a lot of friends and family with events in March), walking Quigley, going to the Y, doing Bible Class, thinking about Bible Class and writing in my journal…

I got my surgery date two days after I saw the GYN oncologist (see last blog post). It was for three weeks off (a little less than two weeks now as I write this), the only spot the doctor had open at my hospital of choice and with my regular gynecologist to assist. Even if I took the latter two out of the picture, the most I could have gained was four days earlier. So I was looking at much longer wait than I was anticipating.

During this time, Pastor John has been teaching about patience. About how patience is part of our calling, and part of our bringing glory to God — when we trust Him and wait patiently, without anxiety, tension or frustration, and then He comes through for us… that brings Him glory.

So it was pretty clear to me the moment the surgery scheduler told me it was going to be three weeks, that this was part of God’s training in developing patience. 

 The next day, after all the carrying on about cancer and talk of how this was going to be resolved quickly, I was a bit unnerved at the prospect that now I was going to have to wait three weeks. But I assured myself that the oncologist had my best interests in mind, and is an expert in this area. He’d looked at my charts and the tests and the ultrasound, and surely if he thought three weeks would lead to a major downturn in my status,  he’d not allow this to go that long. In fact, it’s likely he knew his schedule was full when we met, because when I suggested the possibility of surgery  “next week” he did NOT say it would be then. He said nothing. I started to take comfort in that…

And then realized how ridiculous I was being. Putting my trust in a mere man? What was I thinking? Yes, the doc probably does have my best interests in mind, more or less, but God absolutely and positively does, far more than any man ever could.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to His purpose.”   ~ Romans 8:28

“I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 33:3

He sent His Son to die for me. Of course He has my best interests in mind.

“If God is for us, who against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  ~ Romans 8:31b-32

What’s more, the doc might be able to make a good guess as to what’s going on in my uterus from the tests… but that’s all it is right now: a guess. He even said as much, adding we won’t really know what’s there until he does the surgery.

God, on the other hand, knows exactly what’s going on in there — now and in three weeks. God’s expertise — Omniscience — buries any paltry insights the doc may have gained over his years in the field.

Moreover, God could have provided a spot in the schedule far earlier, if that was the best thing; He could provide a cancellation, could have popped up a red flag, if there was trouble and we needed to get to the surgery sooner. He did not.

Because this is not about my physical condition. This is about teaching me to trust Him, to know Him, to wait in Him. To be at peace in Him.

Oh! But what if His will for me is to go through (fill in the most horrible outcome possible for the situation)?!

That morning as I had this thought… as this wretched thought wormed its way into my consciousness to torment me… I realized it was an old enemy. One that’s been a peace-killer for me my entire Christian life.

So I decided not to go down the path it was suggesting I take. Instead I told myself, “Why not wait until the event happens and then you can say, ‘This is horrible, but I know God wants me to go through it for my highest and best.’ That way I’d at least gain peace from it instead of giving myself the heebie-jeebies with something that is purely speculative.

It’s an evil arrogant thought, really. I presume to guess God’s will for me and I always malign Him when I do so, because it’s always something horrible. For example, I hear a noise when I’m home alone. And I think, Oh, no! Is that a burglar? And then, being a novelist and well versed in such things, I concoct an entire story wherein the burglar/rapist breaks in, attempts to assault me, I shoot him dead and then have to go to jail for murder where I am tormented by my fellow inmates so I can show the power of God in my strength and peace and joy.

Wow, it looks even more stupid and arrogant when I set it down like that than when I just think it. And how ironic that I’m scaring myself silly with a potential scenario I’m conjuring up as an avenue for me to bring God glory with my great strength and trust in Him. Something is not computing here.

And furthermore,  look how mean I’m making God out to be. Here we’ve been studying the fruit of the Spirit as a manifestation of who God is — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control — yet when I get in these situations the God I conjure up is stern, cruel, tight-lipped, legalistic.

“This is for your own good,” my imaginary God says. “All this stuff you don’t want to do, that’s what I have for you to do. And the things you love, and like to do — none of that. It’s only going to be hardness and sorrow and suffering for you.”

No room in that thinking for God wanting me to have an abundant life full of blessing. Or wanting to fill me with power and joy and peace.

So instead of trying to guess what awful thing this phony God I’ve created may have planned for me, I decided to concentrate instead on His goodness,  His grace and His kindness. On His faithfulness, and gentleness and love.

I’ll concentrate on the fact that He’s my loving Father who has everything under control. He knows exactly what’s going on in my body right now. He could speed it up or slow it down. He could take it all away in an instant. His timing is perfect.

In 2 Timothy 3:10, 11 Paul is talking to Timothy about all the trials and persecutions he’s gone through, and ends with, “and out of them all the Lord delivered me.”

Pastor John has recently spent a number of lessons on this verse. It’s one, says he, that applies to all of us as believers. And that’s to be the focus of my thinking, not my lame what-ifs.

Focus on the Promises

I’ve been writing about my attempts to get my head around the notion that the problems I’m having with writing Sky — ie, actually getting myself to go into the office and attend to the book as opposed to any number of other things that are available to do — do not call for me to seek to discipline myself better, but to turn the problem over to the Lord who lives in me and has promised to do the work. Both the work of my calling to write this book, and also the work of conforming me to His image.

The past two posts have been an exploration of thoughts leading up to the ideas in this one, which is an excerpt from a journal entry from last week (this blog is subtitled as my “writing diary,” after all, so I can’t feel too out-of-bounds when I insert sections of my actual diary… 🙂  )

These first two are quotes I selected from Pastor John’s message from Sunday Feb 19, 2012:

“Abraham teaches us there’ll be many tests of our faith. He continued to get up after every defeat (and there were many) and have faith in the Lord who called him….

“There’ll be many times when our faith will come under evaluation. When that happens, it’s really the doctrine we already learned/believed that gets tested.”

So when he says turn it over to Christ and trust Him to do what He says, that means the word and the promises and principles I’m to be believing. Do I really believe He is at work in me? Do I really believe He’ll get the book done through me without my help?

I think that’s the issue for me. Can I believe He will do it — is able to do it — without my schemes and self-condemnation and ‘How can I do it better?’ and ‘I will do better…’ No. See, I do believe He can handle situations over which I have no control. But making myself get down to work — isn’t that my responsibility? Well, how can it be if I’m dead (crucified in Christ) and Christ lives in me? That makes it His responsiblity. So then instead of focusing on me, and what I’m doing or not doing, or hope to be doing, I should be focusing on Him. His character, His work, His purpose, His promises.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all-sufficiency in everything you may have an abundance for every good deed,.” ~2 Co 9:8

“Faithful is He who calls you and HE will bring it to pass.” ~ I Th 5:24

Even in just writing these two verses I realize if I concentrated on them (rather than self or distractions) why would I want to avoid going to work on the book and seeing Him work?

“For the Lord GOD helps me, therefore I am not disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint. And I know that I will not be ashamed.” ~ Is 50:7

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance, and he went out NOT KNOWING WHERE HE WAS GOING [!!!]” ~Heb 11:8

Abraham had to get up and go out. But the focus wasn’t to be on what he was going to do, where he was going, but just one step at a time, trusting God to guide his steps.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” ~Ps 119:105

When that last verse was written, they didn’t have very good lamps: candles, torches, oil lamps. And if you’re carrying any of those as you stand in the darkness, you wouldn’t be able to see very far. But as you walk forward, more is revealed. If you stand still you will never see beyond the present circle of light. No matter how you strain, you must MOVE to see more. So you take a step… into the office, up to the desk. The focus is not to be on the book, or on my lack of ability, or the blankness I have about it but on what I know and believe about HIM. That he’s given me a gift and a calling and a contract for a specific book and promised not just to help but to do it. Why am I afraid? That makes no sense.

Am I more occupied with the Giver or the Gift? The book or the Lord who is giving me the book? Myself and my lack of ability or the Lord who has given and will continue to give me the ability?

Faith is hearing the word and keeping it. Then realizing that we turn more and more of our lives over to Jesus Christ. “I live by faith in the Son of God” (who is the Word of God) and that will be tested. And when it is, and you keep on believing, God reveals Himself to you.

Like how He comes through, no matter what the difficulty every time.

So now in writing this book, He’s right inside me, probably trapping His foot waiting for me to believe Him when He says those things — ie, He will do it, I will NOT be ashamed. I have to go into that office, get in fellowship, trust Him to guide me and show me and get to work. If that is only a nonstop or go over stuff I did before or the notes, let Him guide me.

And that will be tested. Sometimes I’ll have to wait. But wait believing. Wait expecting.

“Unbelief looks at the thing in God’s hand and says, “I wish I had that.”  Belief looks and says, “God has promised me that — I WILL have it.”  ~ Pastor John Farley, paraphrasing Dwight L. Moody,

Turn it Over to Him

Recently I’ve been writing about my attempts to get my mind around some of the concepts in my pastor’s current teachings on Galatians 2:20. One of them is the following:

“After salvation, faith is the active entrusting of our lives to the One who died for us and lives inside us. And we’re supposed to do it on a daily, moment by moment basis.”

I hear that and agree with it, but when it comes down to application… I’m not sure what that looks like. Pastor Farley has said we should take an area of our life that’s driving us nuts and apply this teaching to that. My failure to consistently work on Sky is just such an area. What has become of my self-discipline? And how do I apply this active entrusting of my life to Him to the matter of my lack of self-discipline in working on the book?

“Step by step, day in and day out,” said Pastor John, “we’re delivered from problems and obstacles by HIS life. By the fact He lives in us. We simply need to believe that.”

Well… I do believe that. I think. Or do I? And if I do, what does that mean I … well, DO? Immediately I begin to think in terms of disciplining myself again.

But then he said it’s not ‘Let go and let God, it’s actively relying on Him to live through me. Because it’s a battle. The flesh doesn’t want to do that. It never wants to entrust itself to another. It wants the spotlight. It wants anything but “Sorry, step aside. Jesus Christ is gonna live His new life in me now.” Anything!

Like, “What if I reform myself and promise to do better?”

Or, “I’ll feel sorry for my sins. I know I was bad. I’ll deny myself in certain areas.”

He didn’t say if “deny myself” referred to “No more chocolate chip cookies for you until you toe the line” as a punishment to atone for infractions, and maybe he did, but my first thought was that it sounded a lot like some of my self talk: “I have to do better. I have to have more self-discipline, more awareness of the distractions. Maybe I should unplug the modem or revise my schedule to be more focused on my calling. After all everyone knows you must deny yourself “a thousand unimportant things and a few hundred important things in order to do the one most important thing.”

Maybe both are covered in his reference. Because the denying of things to self is certainly a function of the self-reform Pastor John mentioned as being part of the flesh’s plan: “I’ll deny myself in certain areas!”

“No!” said Pastor John. “We’re done with you. We don’t want to hear any of that! We’re starting over. What do we do? Believe He’ll come through for us every day.”

So… does this really mean I just step back, stop with all the attempts to fix myself and turn it over to Him? “Here Lord. I’m turning this issue completely over to You. Live your life through me. You handle me and the book. If You want it done. I’m trusting you to take care of it.”

Is that it? But what exactly does that mean in the practical? I don’t think I know what “turning the book over to Him” entails on a moment by moment basis, since obviously I do have to actually write it. Yes, I’ve already done that to some degree with respect to its content. Is it now to be the writing as well? Certainly ny flesh hasn’t been doing much of a job getting with the program. But can it really simply be a matter of not obsessing and just reminding myself over and over that He will do it, if I turn it over to Him?

Show me, Lord. I’m going to do this as best I know how and trust You to see it done.  In Your timing, not mine; according to Your schedule, not mine…

“Faithful is He who calls you and He will bring it to pass.”                       ~I Thessalonians 5:24

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”      ~Galatians 2:20

Journal Entries – Part 4: Busy-ness is not Devotion

5 November Saturday – Continued

[Note: I’ve been writing about a series of messages I listened to a couple of weeks ago, and the journal entries they inspired; 5 November is the longest entry of the lot.]

Continuing on the subject of busy-ness, Pastor John taught that one of the most freeing things in his life was when he finally realized that

“knowing your personal sense of destiny simplifies your life. It narrows your life. It throws away a lot of things that aren’t important. It gets you focused.

“Being single-minded is the key to fantastic success. That’s why we get our own spiritual gift and each  of us have our own unique position in the Body.

“Pruning is suffering, but how about looking at it as getting rid of all the non-essentials, narrowing and simplifying your life so you can see clearly the target ahead of you. You have a great Rule now by which you can determine what’s important to keep and what to toss. Part of growing spiritually is a narrowing of focus: Here’s the thing that matter:  “FOLLOW ME.”

Speaking of Jesus, of course. Pastor John contrasted Martha in the kitchen going nuts with her preps and Mary in the living room sitting as Jesus’s feet, listening to Him. I always took that to mean Bible class, and I believe that in part it does. But what about moment by moment? I always took “Follow me” to mean Bible class,as well, but that must be moment by moment. And that includes the function of my spiritual gift, which I’ve come to believe is not only writing novels, but apparently writing this blog as well.

To do that, things will not be about my schedule, my priorities, but me following His leading at any given moment.

Colonel Thieme said we’re not to be led by our emotions and desires and impulses – that that’s arrogance and self-indulgent. And it can be, especially at the beginning of one’s spiritual life. But later I think to some degree that is how the Spirit leads. Suddenly you get an idea to do something and you do it.

But too often, especially in recent years I’ve wanted to write in the journal to figure out what’s going on, what I should be thinking — like yesterday. I remember being distracted from my intent of going in to work on Sky, and instead going in to lie on the bed and think about a subject I’d just read about on a blog. All these words and verses came flooding into my mind and finally I decided I should just go in and write them down. The result was my recent post The World is Not Christian.

I think that was God the Holy Spirit. That’s how it happens. It’s almost like I’m taken over. I always regard such events with dismay because they’re never what I’d planned, never what I’d intended to do.

It happens with the sudden inspiration of ideas for making cards as well. And for solving problems related to housework, storage, etc.  I think His leading is in those things more than not.

Pastor John’s next tack in his lesson relates:

“There’s an idea that we’re supposed to be busy — that that’s the proof of our devotion…”

(I’ve gotten done all the things I’ve determined to do based on my priorities…which years ago may not actually have been correct. Plus, as I said, this is all about me and my plan.)

“…when in  reality it isn’t busy-ness at all, but single-mindedness.   When we get pruned, we become more single-minded, more devoted to the Father and His Son. And HE will prune. HE’S the one doing it. He’s the one who identifies and will do what’s needed to make these things perfectly obvious to you and even maybe get rid of them for you.”

And in my notes I asked, “What does this MEAN? That I don’t have to figure it out?” Well, yeah, that does seem to be its meaning. I guess my question is, “but if I don’t, if I just keep muddling my way along, I won’t have any control (!).  It’ll be chaos. I’ll go along indulging myself like I’ve done for several months now…

Except… is that true? Have I just been lolling about reading novels, letting the house go, eating at McDonald’s every night? No dishes done, eating off paper plates, no laundry done until every last stitch of clothing has been worn? Leaving the dog to fend for himself, letting the clutter pile and pile? That is not what’s happening. Even my computer time is limited to a few blogs. I’ve not let Bible Class go. The checkbook is not a mess of unentered charges….

I feel afraid. That if I turn it over to Him… what? I’ll be lost? He won’t come through?

PJF continues:

“Many times what seems to us as a suffering and a difficulty, turns out to have been the best thing — God removing an unproductive way of spending your time.”

He used as example a sales position he lost years ago. At the time it seemed like a disaster — how was he going to feed his family?

“But it was a job that was mostly about accounting — how many cold calls did you make? How many hours did you spend? It wasn’t focused at all — it was a horrible job.”

And God removed this unproductive way of spending his time. This ties to my Martha mindset of how many tasks have I completed off my list. How many hours have I spent writing. Ohhh… never enough. Never. There will always be more tasks because every one of them eventually must be done again.

“He removes the unproductive aspects of our lives. Then we can go back and concentrate more fully on the broad and vital part of our lives, the productive part: growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord. Being closer to the Vine.

“We don’t bear more fruit by being busier (getting more done) but by being closer to the Vine. He wants us to see more and more of the Life of Christ. That He’s alive, that He’s real and magnificent. That if we more and more devote ourselves to Him, give our lives to Him, He’ll come through in  amazing ways!

“This time is really short and it’s the only time we have to glorify Him.”

We do that by trusting Him in suffering and difficulty. By believing His word even when we can’t see any results or sign that it’s true. And also by thanking Him when He finally does come through. As He always does.

Fear is a Thief

My Bible Class lessons of late have been on the subject of fear. How it punishes and torments us — even though we do it to ourselves. It is also a thief, stealing the peace that passes all understanding which is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ. A peace that is not as the world gives — through things we can see — but through the things that are invisible. That is, the promises of God and the essence and character of God.

Moreover, not only does fear steal our peace, it steals opportunities for us to glorify God through trusting Him.

These are all familiar concepts, which I learned years ago, and had reinforced countless times since. And still fear gets the best of me far too often. Fear is the province of the sin nature, the weapon of the kingdom of darkness in its quest to pull us out of God’s plan for our lives, and in so doing, to discredit Him and insult Him. Because fear basically says God’s a liar, and impotent.

Fear paralyzes us, cripples us and stifles creativity.  Yes, he said creativity. And yes, I am very much aware of the fact that it chokes off creativity. But… sigh…I tend to forget… (Which is why I need Bible class every day.)

I love the story of the Israelites as they left Egypt in the Exodus, led by the pillar of cloud right up to the waters of the Red Sea, mountains to the right, mountains to the left, nowhere to go and Pharaoh’s army churning up a huge dust cloud as it rumbled toward them. None of the Israelites knew how to fight, none of them had any weapons, there was nowhere for them to go except back the way they’d come and that’s where the soldiers were.

But of course, this is the group of people who had just seen 10 amazing miracles performed by their God in His plan to persuade Pharoah to let them go. They’d just seen the deaths of all the first-born in Egypt, people and cattle, except in the land of Goshen where the Jews lived, where those who believed had marked the sign of the cross in blood on the lintels and door posts of their homes so that when the Lord came to smite the Egyptians he passed over them.

They’d gone out with a high hand after that, and now only a few days later … here was Pharoah’s army. So what did they do?  Forgetting all about the things they’d just learned, they focused on the Egyptians who were marching after them, stared hard at them, maybe trying to figure out how many they were, maybe seeing the glint of armor or spear or chariot wheel through the dust. They thought about them, and all their prowess on the battlefield. Thought about how fast the chariots could go, and imagined how they would plow into the company of Israelites, men, women and children, most of them afoot. They struggled to think of a way of escape and as they looped through all these thoughts, became completely terrified. Soon the sons of Israel were screaming in panic and terror to the Lord.  Then they blamed Moses for having brought them out there just to die, and bitterly longed to have been left alone as slaves in Egypt.

Did I mention that fear also makes us completely stupid?

Moses commanded the people to get a grip.  He told them to stop freaking out and,

“…stand still and see the deliverance of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you, while you keep silent.”

And I think keep silent not only means stop screaming and whining and blaming and moaning, but stop all the frantic thinking as well. Instead of focusing on the problem and trying fifty ways from seven to come up with a solution, STOP. Quiet your brain and relax. Step back and watch Him solve it. Think about who He is, what He’s done, what He’s promised.

“And God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with him freely give us all things.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created things shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  ~ Romans 8:28 – 31

“For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” so that we may confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What shall mere man do to me?”  ~ Heb 13:5-6

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jer 29:11

“Call upon me and I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know.”  ~ Jer 33:3

“The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” ~ Ps 84:11

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” ~ Ps 27:1

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” ~Ps 62:5

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” ~Ro 9:16

I realized, in the midst of Friday’s lesson that I was letting fear stop me on Sky, letting it paralyze me three pages in because I didn’t know where I was going. What if I chose the wrong sequence? What if it led me off on a goose chase? I could spend months writing useless words. I don’t have months to waste like that!

Fear.

Recognizing it was immensely freeing. It’s a first draft, after all. It’s supposed to be provisional, and I was assuming that God was unable to guide me. Further, one of my guiding verses has long been this passage from Hebrews 11:8:

“By faith, Abraham, when he was called obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance;  and he went out not knowing where he was going.”

To “go out” he had to take steps — had to get up and leave his tent and walk in a direction. And he did so, not knowing where he was going. If he didn’t know where he was going, how did he know which way to go? He didn’t. And yet he went.

The parallel to my situation is almost exact. To go out, I have to write a certain line of action and conflict. How do I know which one to choose? I don’t. I just have to choose one and go forward. Write it out, don’t look back and just keep on keeping on, trusting that God can lead me. Even if it doesn’t look like He is.

After that I returned to Sky and worked through to page 12, but since I cut 2 pages in the process, I’m actually on page 10. That’s 9 pages from where I started out, the biggest jump in pages I’m made in a long, long time. I’m quite pleased. 🙂

 


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