With divine vigor, I’ve been thinking about writing. Having almost cajoled myself into believing I could let this interest fall away for all its impracticalities, I realized with renewed certainty that I’m meant for writing. There was no great voice or messenger angel, just a still, small shift in my cosmos of hope.
The impossibility of ever writing successfully, suddenly waned. Some wall I don’t remember erecting began to fall. Treading what seemed to be an icy ravine, I found a dirt path with side rails.
There is a place in Scripture that describes a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees about paying taxes. The Pharisees try to trap Jesus into saying that they should not pay the imperial tax to Caesar.
“But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’
‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’”
Reverend Matt O., over at Rusty Tugboat, served this story up on Sunday and I went away gnawing at the bones. The end of his sermon focused on the last of Jesus’ words, and to God what is God’s. In appropriate Application response, I reflected on my own life, sifting out those things of God in me that I withhold from him.
Now, as a Christian, I am wholly God’s. I believe that the Holy Spirit of God dwells in me, and in covenant with my decision to follow Christ, I have surrendered the whole self over to the rule of King Jesus. On a perfect day, I am a vessel for the work of God alone. This means that I submit all my thoughts and actions to the honor of God, his character, kingdom, and love.
But usually, I want the control for myself. So I cling to what I can, trying to manipulate it toward my selfish ambitions.
Aware of this tendency, I scanned the film reel I call my life looking for just such hang-ups. Then something massive and blinking slid across the screen…
Writing!! it said.
I still think writing is all mine. I’ve been frustrated and discouraged because I can’t quite decide where to start, because no story is projecting itself onto my pages. But I’m clinging and grabbing and desperately wrestling against the natural compass of my writing guide, who is God.
During the sermon, Matt told a story about a dusty violin put up for auction. The bidding started at one dollar, two dollar, three dollar… Going once, going twice… “Now, hold on there a minute,” said an old hunched and bearded man in the back. He lumbered up to the stage, took the violin in his hands, twisting and tuning the brittle strings. And then, he played. Ancient, golden harmonies flooded from the contorted bow, astonishing the once skeptical audience. “Can I hear one thousand dollars?” hollered the auctioneer, “Two thousands, three from the woman in the back!”
The violin was decrepit, fragile and wasted, outside the hands of its master. But given back to its creator, the violin produced magnificent anthems.
Is this not also true for what God creates and then gives to us?
I think about my writing as if on loan from God. The talent is actually his, sculpted and polished by his hands, but bestowed on and manifest in me. To be fair, I ought to give back what he rightfully owns.
But a transaction like this can’t be calculated with worldly measure. Where contracts and receipts should be, there is instead, a long and refining process of surrender. If we’re talking about writing (and we could be talking about anything), then I must by choice lay down my selfish desire and vain conceit in honor of the greater, loftier goals of the Father.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
I’m often kept from writing for the fear of failure. Afraid I can’t write anything that will change you, that will make you walk away feeling a little bit differently than before, I don’t write anything at all. It’s a reasonable fear, if left to my own devices. I did not create the writing spirit within me, that divinely offered. To honor and tune it well, I must return it to the Source, who, through me, can make the product art.
If hoarded it will grow dusty, if contrived it will break. But with faithful stewardship and freewill, we abide simply in the gift given to us. Hope and prosperity already brick the path that follows.
Success in kingdom life might not bring money or recognition. It probably won’t look the way we expect, even when we think we don’t expect the world. But it will bring fruit, and we will be freed.
Tell me about a break through in an area of your life where you feel gifted.