Romans 11:29 -- For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Call it writer's block or a dry spell or just a plain old case of burn out. For whatever reason, I stopped writing.
In my mind I tried to justify it by telling myself that I could take a little break. After all, I was working full time now and didn't have the time I used to have for writing. Besides that, who was even reading these articles? Very few people commented on them, either on the web site or in person. A few in the church I know had read it, but who would really miss it if I stopped posting?
My "little break" has turned into one year since I have posted anything to the church web blog. And, it seemed to me that no one really has noticed. Yet many times in the last year, I have thought about it. Ideas for articles would come to me and I would make a few notes, but I never got back to them. I had plenty of other things to keep me busy, so I would push the idea of writing again to the back burner. Someone had noticed though, and in the last month or so, though, that someone has been turning up that back burner, urging me to get back to being about my Father's business. He has spoken in to me in my spirit and through the sermons and writings of others, and even through the Sunday school lessons I have been teaching of late. I was able to deflect it, telling myself I would get started again next month. Twelve "next months" later, I still had not started. Then He really hit me over the head with it.
A few of weeks ago, we had the dedication service for our new church location on Oakridge Drive. Many friends and former church members came for the celebration (and hopefully will be coming back on a regular basis!). One of the people who attended was a wonderful Painter of God's Heart (aka Frank Whittington). I complimented him on his latest work, which I had seen on Facebook. He thanked me, and then he said something that made my heart feel both joy and grief at the same time. I know that sounds strange. He reminded me that an article I wrote several years ago is something he goes back and reads from time to time. It was "Color Outside the Lines" and it was about creativity. He said that it was something that continued to encourage him. I can't tell you how wonderful it made me feel. I was so humbled and felt so blessed to know that it had made a difference to someone â€¦that it had an affect on someone's life. I thanked him and confessed that I had let my writing slip. He smiled and reminded me of a line about creativity from my own article if you don't use it, you'll lose it.
My feelings of joy at knowing something I had written helped someone then turned to grief, and I groaned as the realization set in that I had, as Pastor is fond of saying, "sat down on my calling." I had missed a year's worth of opportunities to write and share with others about the wonderful works of our Lord. I have always felt that we learn the most from making mistakes, and I have learned some things from this experience.
Isaiah 55:11 -- So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
When we are doing things for God, whether it be pastoring, teaching, singing, evangelizing, prophesying, helping, etc., we have to keep doing them without worrying about the results or outcomes. In scripture, it says that God's word does not go out and return void. If we are in the will of God, doing the will of God, then what we are doing will have an impact, whether it is visible to us or not. It is not necessarily our job to evaluate or measure the result. We just need to be obedient and keep doing what we are doing unless God tells us otherwise. We can't be dependent on the validation of other people to keep us motivated, which was what I may have been doing to some extent in addition to being tired and burned out.
Hebrews 10:24-25 -- And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Having said that, it is not a bad thing to receive some encouragement and appreciation from others. Even though we aspire to be super spiritual, we are still flesh and bones. We like to hear "good job". We like compliments. We like to know that we are appreciated. The trick is to not become prideful or to think more of ourselves than we should. Some kind and encouraging words often do give you a little boost to keep on going. It also gives us an opportunity to praise the Lord and give him the glory. If someone compliments you on your singing, teaching, preaching, painting, cooking, cleaning, writing or whatever it is that you do, give God the praise. And even if no one says a word, give Him the praise anyway, because He is still using you in ways you may never know or understand.
Colossians 3:23-24 -- And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
We have many talented, creative, thoughtful and faithful people in our church and they can be taken for granted. We can come and go to church each week without giving much thought that the building will be unlocked when we get there and then locked and secured after everyone goes home; that it will be clean; that there will be someone there to greet and welcome us; that there will be music along with the words on the big screens; that there will be a message preached; that there will be lights and air conditioning (or heat) and even wi-fi; and that the bills for all these things will be paid. But how often do we thank or appreciate the people who make sure those things happen? All those things and more are not getting done on Thursday night or Sunday morning. People are taking time during the week to do all the big and little things that make our church run. You get what you give. So, if your show kindness, encouragement and appreciation to others, it is more likely that you will receive the same.
Mark 6:31 --Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
I have also learned, but am still trying to put in practice, that you can't let yourself get burned out. If Jesus knew He had to take time to get away from everyone and spend time alone with the Father, then we should do likewise. Some days it feels like I go from some type of job or chore to the other without much of a break in between. I push myself and fill every moment to "get'r done." Sometimes you just have to say no, or at least no for right now, and get your priorities in order. Seek first the kingdom of God, and the rest will fall into place.
2 Peter 1:10 --Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,
So what have you put on the back burner? Have you felt the heat being turned up within you lately? Have you been sitting down on your calling? Or have you fallen into a cycle of procrastination and apathy? Whatever the case, it is never too late to get to work. God's gifts and callings truly are without repentance. I didn't lose the ability to write, but because I haven't done much of it lately, it was tough getting started and keeping up the momentum, where it used to be the words just flowed in one sitting. (It has taken me a week to write this.) Eventually I will get back to that level if I keep working at it. I believe the same will be true for you. Whatever it is you've been sitting on, its time to brush it off and start using it again. Just get started. Start small and go from there. Like David, you can encourage yourself in the Lord (I Samuel 30:6). I know you can do it! More importantly, God knows you can -- if only you will.
Thank you, Frank, for your kind and encouraging words. If you would like to know about Frank Whittington, Painter of God's Heart, visit his website: http://painterofgodsheart.com/index.htm . The photos can't compare to seeing these paintings in person.
If you would like to read "Color Outside the Lines", click on this link: http://spiritlifefellowshipchurch.com/blog_direct_link.cfm/blog_id/41524/cat_id/957/Color-Outside-the-Lines .