But the practical excuses are only part of the reason. Perhaps the truest reason is that the fruitful connection I've felt with the Holy Spirit—my muse—has gone dark. It's like someone's turned the radio station between channels and I hear mostly static with occasional snippets of communication. Without the "urging" to write I haven't. Without the writing I've gotten out of the practice of listening. Without the listening I've lost the connection. It's become a chicken and egg kind of thing.
While this isn't a new struggle, for a time I thought I felt the peace of victory and reconnection with God (like “the old days”). But an inner battle continues and I feel the pull of apathy overtaking the pull of passion.
It seems that writing—continuing with it or walking away—is the tipping point for me.
And I don’t want to walk away. I don’t want to look back on writing with fondness as something I used to do. No. I want to press on. To keep writing as a way to talk with God, to experience Him and to share His Good News. And I want to rediscover the passionate love for God that energizes my spirit in a way nothing else does.
So, this morning I looked for inspiration outside “the voices in my head” and found them in God’s word. In Acts 17. (It's amazing how much that book speaks to me!)
Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica preaching the good news of Jesus. Crowds gathered to listen. Some Jews, God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women came to faith in Jesus. But the other Jews weren't at all happy with the happenings in their town. In fact, they were jealous. So jealous that they "rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.” (v. 5)
These Jews felt threatened by Paul and Silas. By their popularity. By the excitement that surrounded them. By their success. And by the way their message of Jesus contradicted with their understanding of God. They wanted to protect their position, status and ideas...so they started a riot.
I love that the Bible isn’t an allegorical tale, but a real story of real people. People from whom we can learn a lot about humanity. In this story, the Jews shine a mirror on our own lives and show us a facet of ourselves we’d rather not see—or admit to. Jealousy.
Who, me…jealous? I’ve never rounded up bad characters and started a riot. I’ve never dragged someone out of his house and thrown him into prison. I’m nothing at all like those Jewish people.
Or am I?
According to dictionary.com, jealousy means:
- resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself.
- mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc.,
- vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.
- a jealous feeling, disposition, state, or mood.
Well, if you put it that way…
I might never have gathered a mob, but I’ve certainly created a riot in my own mind. I’ve been suspicious or uneasy of ideas that differ from mine. I’ve drug someone’s reputation through the mud because I felt threatened. I’ve felt the burn of resentment when someone received attention/recognition/position I aspired to. Sadly, the list goes on.
As the story continues in Acts 17, Paul and Silas secretly left Thessalonica and went to Berea where the “Bereans were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day...” (v. 11)
Meanwhile, the Thessalonian Jews’ jealousy devoured them like a cancer.
As much as I’d like the opposite to be true, I relate more to the Thessalonians (at least initially) than the Bereans. My flaws are plentiful and my natural character isn’t so “noble.” Far from it.
But this is what makes the Good News such great news—for you and for me. It doesn’t matter how numerous our imperfections or how impure our actions or how broken we are, the grace of Jesus meets us exactly where we are. And accepts us exactly as we are.
Naturally I might be more like a Thessalonian, but supernaturally I want to be like a Berean. And while I am so much of a work in progress, I have faith that the same Spirit who turned Paul from a murderer to an evangelist. Who fueled the Thessalonian church to stand firm in their faith despite intense persecution. And who has been transforming lives for two thousand years can transform mine as well.
Is this a truth to cling to and a hope to keep fighting for? I sure think it is.