What's Holding You Back?
While scrolling through my email inbox recently, the title of the latest True Woman blog post jumped off the screen and into my 6 a.m., early-morning, not-enough-coffee existence. It might as well have been flagged, "Important"; "Read Now"; "Urgent." But it wasn't, and I didn't. I kept right on scrolling toward my latest credit card statement and the thirty-minute crockpot freezer-meal recipe of the day. I had no plans to read that post.
But it bugged me. It bugged me for nine hours, until grudgingly I resumed my position on the couch, tablet in hand, to read "Why I Write" by Erin Davis and to ask myself why I don't. Now, the temptation here is to launch into a belabored litany of explanation of why I wasn't writing—which happens to be my thing, but I'd rather reserve some space for exhortation as to why you should do your thing, whatever that is. So in brief, let me share with you three reasons why I wasn't doing my thing:
1. The Practical
Pure and simple, the reason is time. I'm a wife. I'm a mom—of six! I have a home, a church, a Bible study group, a part-time job, a special needs child, a toddler, teenagers, and everything in-between. You get the picture—I'm busy. Decent reason, right?
2. The Possibilities
What if I fail? What if I'm successful? What if I get angry feedback? What if I displease the Lord with my words? What if, what if, what if . . . Wrong or not (and it is—see Philippians 4:8) that's where many of us live, right? In the world of "What If."
3. The Peril
So here we are at the crux of the issue. Here's why I actually didn't write: Because as a bondservant of Christ, writing, speaking truth, will be . . . hard. As I explained in my comment to Erin's post, I recently heard popular novelist Jonathan Franzen interviewed on public radio. The interviewer quoted Franzen as saying the following:
It gets harder to write novels, not easier, as time goes by. And that has to do with using up the easy stuff, the stuff that is fairly close to the surface, and then going back for the mid-level stuff. And then suddenly all you're left with is this very deep stuff. And there is good reason why you haven't written about it before because you don't know how or you really don't want to talk about it.
Magnify that by about a thousand, and there you have the pickle for the writer (speaker, teacher, worker of any sort, really) who longs to use his or her God-given gifts and glorify Him in the process. If we no longer see life as the world sees it, if we are to live and share the reason for our hope, if we can no longer dabble in empty words (Eph. 5:6) as is the custom of our days, what's left? What's left is a whole lot of hard, a whole lot of truth, and a whole lot of joy. And here's the good news: That is the Good News.
The good news of the gospel is what should motivate us as believers to use our God-given talents and abilities for His glory, regardless of the hard. All that we have belongs to Him, and we are to hold it loosely-and that includes our talents, abilities, and our time.
Give It Back to Him
Take a look at what happened when the Holy Spirit moved the local church, as we read in Acts 4:31≠35:
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
While we understand that these events occurred as a result of a context specific to the church in Jerusalem in the age of the apostles, as we look to how we can apply these verses to our lives today, the heart of this passage's overarching principle stands out: If all that we have comes from Him, is distributed through Him, and is to be given back to Him ( Rom. 11:36), this would include not only our possessions, but our abilities—our thing—whatever it is that we are called to do.
Where Are You?
So reader, where does that leave you? What is "your thing," and why aren't you doing it? Perhaps you're not a writer who's not writing, but are you a teacher who's not teaching? A musician who's not playing? Are you an older church member, dismayed at being out of touch with the young families in your church, but who politely declines when asked to serve in the nursery or teach Sunday school? Are you a mentor who's not discipling? Have you been sitting in your pew stewing about how "unfriendly" your church is while spots go unfilled on the greeter
schedule? And of course, your ministry, "your thing," doesn't have to be formal. But whatever it is, it's time to lay it at Jesus' feet and allow Him to distribute it.
Looking back at the reasons why I didn't, it quickly becomes clear why you (and I) should.
1. The Practical
Let's just be honest. You will never have enough time. Of course, there may be seasons in your life where you need to take a break from your thing for a variety of really good reasons. But when you can, get back to it! The chances are pretty slim (like, nonexistent) that one night the stars will align and you will suddenly wake the next morning with an abundance of time. The truth is, life is short. Do your thing while it's still called today (Heb. 3:13).
2. The Possibilities
First, the negatives. Yes, you might fail. Yes, you might get angry feedback. Yes, your service will be imperfect; you will say or do the wrong thing; you will sin in the midst of your sanctification. But maybe you'll also be a blessing to another believer, a light in a dark world, a testament of God's grace to a dying people.
3. The Peril
Bad news—your thing will probably be hard. It might require more energy than you have, more time than you want to spend, and more effort than you want to put forth. You might have to dig deep, past the easy and the nice and whatever's close to the surface. You may even have to get hurt in order to help. But good news! Scripture, through the apostle Peter, has given us a plan and a hope:
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).
Don't forget, the ability to do your thing is a gift—one more grace poured into the life of an undeserving soul. Erin said this in her original post: "I often feel like a fish who lives on land, and when I write it's like I get to swim in the fishbowl for a while. I know this is because God has uniquely gifted me to write. Like all gifts from Him, I want to surrender writing for the benefit of God's kingdom."
So find your fishbowl, prepare your mind, sober your spirit, and start swimming with your hope fixed on the grace that is to come. In big things and little things, on your blog and in the nursery, use the time and talents that God has given you to glorify and serve Him. I'm not sure exactly what that will look like for you, but for me the cursor's familiar rhythm pulses before me, and I take the plunge. I'm back in the fishbowl.
What's keeping you from taking the plunge?
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