I signed the contract for my first novel as my mother-in-law fought death. The emotion of that trial cast me upon the Lord in complete dependence. I had to cling tightly, relying on him for the ability to meet the deadline and edit the words. He empowered and helped me.
Off went the manuscript right on time.
As the summer stretched itself out, I worked ahead to ready a spot for the manuscript’s return. I wanted all decks cleared, so I could devote myself exclusively to evaluating my editor’s revisions. So, I piled all of my fall and winter work into the summer heat, foregoing reading, hammock sitting, or basking under green leaves.
I accomplished more than I thought humanly possible, and then I hit the wall.
Once more, I had worked without balance. I had not allowed myself to recover from even death. There is a reason God created rest. I got sucked into my tasks and forgot to submit my schedule to the Master. A person who writes full time for Christ must listen to Christ for the daily work.
Instead, I tend to hunker down, shoulder the world’s weight, and work myself to the bone. I am a harsh taskmaster. Jesus is not. The Master urged me to take a hiatus, so I could recover strength for the returning manuscript. In late August, I took my break.
I’m glad I listened. I now anticipate the return of the manuscript in a week or two. As I aimed this direction, I suspected it would happen this way. Fiction writing requires me to lose myself in my story and cavort with my characters. It requires tranquility.
But the manuscript will arrive at the craziest time of year. Fall ministries also begin in a couple of weeks. I will be leading a bible study for women mentors. I will be preaching the gospel and encouraging women in the prison. I already have a plane ticket to go visit my grandchildren for a long weekend. I’m readying my bible studies to sell on this site. And then there’s the marketing, which now falls to writers and is well underway for Refuge’s February 2014 release.
Just as the signing of the contract and the earlier manuscript preparation coincided with life experiences that forced me to rely on Christ, so this next phase will as well. This is the norm. There is no time when our utter dependence upon Christ is not the necessity. This is true of our work time and our rest time.
My obsessive work fest this summer showed me a blind spot. God has me right where he wants me. I now recognize significant truths:
Without the Spirit’s empowerment, I can’t utilize my gifts in a God-honoring way. He has bestowed them for a purpose, but I need his grace to serve him rightly.
The Spirit teaches me to fix my eyes on Jesus, keeping my relationship with him my priority. Love for Jesus shapes my other decisions.
It guides me to prioritize my family and my calling.
It equips me to be loving.
It instructs me to respond to time pressure with grace and peace, rather than frazzled anxiety.
I live for Jesus. I serve him. He is in this. I will do it for him, in the way he strengthens me. This is what God has called me to do. He will empower me to do it.
The goal isn’t the completed task—the finished novel. No, the goal is how I live my life as I prepare the novel, whether I love my family, honor my God, and rely on my Savior. Do I love Jesus enough to keep my eyes on him in this? The carrying out of the task shows me the true condition of my heart.
God wants me to live what I write. To do so, I must fan into the flame the gift of God, relying on his Spirit. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).
How is the Lord empowering and equipping you as you love him more deeply?