“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21 NIV
I’ve been struggling for a long time with my novels. No progress, no focus and, finally, no enthusiasm. But, much as I’d like to go on to something besides writing, something “normal”, writing is what I’ve been given to do. I can’t quit.
For a long time I blamed my struggles on the pressure to take care of other writerly tasks—platform, social media, marketing—at the expense of actually writing. After all, how can I write if there’s nothing left of me at the end of the day for what counts?
Finally I asked myself, “Self! Every day I run out of gas spinning my wheels on trying to learn and do these necessary evils, not to mention the energy that goes into trying to think of a way around them. If I never finish a book because I’m stressing out over these things, what’s the point of trying to do them, anyway?”
So I quit and went back to my Work In Progress, but my focus was gone. I had to force myself to try, again and again and again. I prayed and pleaded for inspiration and enthusiasm, for someone to set up and run my platform, for a techie mentor with enough time and patience to teach me, for HELP, but God just left me to my wheel-spinning.
I get more of my best ideas in church than anywhere else. A time of enforced stillness, alone with God in a crowd. Others around but certain not to try to engage me or require a response. A song lyric, a Scripture, a sermon illustration. The just-so reflection of light off something otherwise mundane. An expression on someone’s face, a memory stirred—and I’m leaping across a river from stone to sandbar to stone. Ahead, left, ahead a little. Whoops, a dead end. Left again to that stone just behind me, then ahead… Then I land on an insight and am brought up short to examine it, to pray, to plead for help with writing it... To ask again for forgiveness, for I know I’ll let the busyness of my life prevent me.
Three servants, three assignments. Two succeeded, one failed.
“Well done…” I want to hear those words more than anything. And I don’t want to hear Him add, “But look how much better you could have done.”
I try to remain in Him with this, but I’m so overwhelmed that it’s hard to pull my eyes from the storm to the Master of the sea, my Prince of Peace. Hard to find time or energy to seek Him, to pray, even to wait. Like the disciples in Gethsemane, I try to keep my eyes open to watch, and the hungry lion creeps closer…
Then one Sunday a sudden insight almost blew me right off a slick stone into the raging current: Is it possible that I’m having so much trouble with the novels—the big things—because I haven’t yet been faithful in sharing the many small things I’ve written? Maybe I’d better set the big things aside for now and get busy.
It’s time past time to start posting—not for marketing what I have yet to write, but just for touching people, for sharing, for encouraging, for inspiring.
Father, You are enough. Help me to remain in You when I have no more strength to hold on. Help me to serve You in the ways You choose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.