“Do Not Fear the Work.”

          FearHave you ever felt that your dream is too big?  The task feels so monumental, the job so impossible that you begin to wonder if the one thing God got wrong in all eternity was calling you to do it?

            King Solomon certainly wondered.

            Back story: King David had always wanted to build a temple for the Lord, but God told David that he would not be the one to build it; rather his son Solomon would build it.  Not surprisingly, Solomon was somewhat intimidated by the importance and scope of the task.

            It is at this point that David tells Solomon:

“’Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work is finished’” (I Chron 28:20).

            Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with what the Lord has called me to write – a book series – and I feel I’m in way over my head.  There are times I feel lost in a maze, not knowing which direction to turn or what comes next.  The research, the jigsaw puzzle that it is, the writing, the rewriting and sometimes, when the Lord decides to change things up, the starting all over.  I’m sharing this because my experience with this process is not unusual when the Lord gives us an assignment. 

           For example, when I wrote the first book, it seemed to flow right out of the pen. I’d finish writing a scene or chapter and then go, “Where did that come from??”  It wasn’t me.

           Enter book #2 – not so much. 

           Before I even started, the Lord said to me, “I gave you the first book. Now you’re going to have to seek me for the second.”

           “Okay,” (I naively replied), “how hard can that be?”

           Well – writing the next one has been a totally different experience.  Sometimes I just stare at the page, waiting for something, anything.  That’s when Left Behind co-author Jerry Jenkins’ advice kicks in: “There is no such thing as ‘writer’s block”.  Now sit your fanny in the chair and pick up the pen.”  I’m paraphrasing (but not much).

           Some time I’ll discuss the process of writing this series because, despite all that, it’s been such a God-thing that I can’t possibly convey it in a few words. However, suffice it to say that, in the past few years, the Lord has prompted me to do things which I had no idea would ever be part of a storyline, much less a series of books. I didn’t even know why I was doing the things at the time.

           For example, a few years ago, the Lord directed me to get in the car and drive to New England. Why?  Didn’t have a clue.  So I rounded up a friend and drove.  On the way (another principle entirely), we were directed to go to Salem and Plymouth and pray for the nation.  Odd, right?  No kidding.  But then, two years later, the Lord began to show me that that trip was a prophetic action that would become part of the series’ plot.

           A couple of takeaways: first, you may not have a clue what you’re doing – you only know that you have to do it. It’s kind of like salmon fighting their way upstream because well, just because. They don’t know why either.

           Second, you know that no matter how hard the work is, you can’t quit because – then what would you do? You were born for this and nothing else.

           Third, it’s only when the task seems impossible (or really is) that we depend completely on God.  Why?  Because seeking God is hard – the praying, the waiting, the trying and then trying again . . . You know.

           Jesus said we would do greater exploits than He did. He just neglected to mention how overwhelming that would feel at times.

           I know you’re called to “impossible” things. Maybe it’s raising children that make your life a challenge every single day – their needs or their rebellion or even their heartbreaking rejection.  Maybe you’re running a business, but it’s been one obstacle, setback or failure after another.  Maybe school is a real struggle.  It could be anything that, at times, leaves you feeling depleted, discouraged and totally inept. Maybe you’ve reached a point, as I did in the middle of fighting through the first year of the Common Core high school English modules, when you simply say, “God, you’ve got the wrong girl.”  I was so done. 

           In those moments, it’s good to remember Joshua, charged by the Lord to go into the Promised Land and clean it out – even after the spies came back saying, “’We saw the Nephilim there’ (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim)” (Num 13:33). (The Nephilim were the giants born from the unions of the naughty angels and the daughters of men.)

           We know Joshua was shaken (who wouldn’t be?), but it was then that the Lord said to Joshua, “’Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’” (Jos 1:9).

           That scripture always re-sets my perspective. If Joshua had the courage and the faith to battle the legendary Nephilim and win, then I can certainly manage to buckle down, pick up the pen, and do the thing that God has called me to do.  And so can we all.

           “Do not fear the work.”

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