Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Unexplored Territory

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” Joshua 3:3-4

There are times I wish God still spoke to us in an audible voice, met us with specific directions, or just gave us something tangible like the Ark to follow into new territory. It’s so much more difficult stepping out in faith, hoping you’re making the right decisions. Worse, is sitting still in fear and indecision.

Writing is a passion. It’s an integral part of who I am. If I’m not writing a story or working on an article, I’m thinking of one. I get distracted by ideas while walking, have heated discussions with people who don’t exist, and I’ve wandered into fairyland on more than one occasion while I was supposed to be listening to someone speaking to me.

Writing is a gift God blessed me with, and it’s one I want to use to the best of my ability. But then come the doubts. A project I’ve poured my heart into gathers dust on a shelf. Another rejection letter appears in my mailbox. A chapter disappears from my file and none of my numerous backups have the most recent version. When coupled with the stress of every day life — health of family and friends, finances, uncertainty in a rocky economy — it’s enough to make anyone question, “Am I going in the right direction?”

This morning I was reminded of another man who pressed himself to do the work he’d been called to, but who in a moment of frustration fled to the desert ready to give everything up. I’ve always admired Elijah, not because of the miracles God did through him, but because of his faithfulness in situations that would cause most people to crack under the pressure. With the exception of this one recorded case, he was constantly moving forward doing the work God set out for him to do.

When Elijah fled Jezebel after a great victory for the Lord, God led him to the mountaintop (1 King 19). Elijah was exhausted; he felt isolated, and despite all God had done for him and through him, useless. And so he waited on that mountaintop for God to pass by and speak to him. First came the great wind, then the earthquake, followed by a fire. Yet God was in none of those. Instead, He came in the form of a gentle whisper.

I realized that while I’ve been looking for God to send me major road signs and events to direct me, he’s been using simple markers instead through encouraging words from friends, unexpected writing opportunities, and in the blessings that come when I m able to help others in their own journeys, whether with writing or in life.

I may not have sold a best seller yet. I may never see more than a few extra dollars here or there for my work. But that’s really not why I write to begin with. It isn’t success or achievements God is looking for — it’s simple faithfulness. Am I willing to trust Him enough to lead me safely through unknown territory, Ark or no Ark? And can I set my own demands and expectations aside long enough to hear Him when he gently whispers directions to my heart?

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