November 29, 2010

Worth Fighting For

It’s been a while since I’ve written and I’ve missed it. I’ve been busy with this …and this … and that. And in the process I’ve gotten out of the habit and have moved my attention to others things. It also doesn’t help that I’m one of the world’s slowest writers and it takes a good deal of time to write each post, story and article.

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:
  1. resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself.
  2. mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc.,
  3. vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.
  4. 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.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26)

11 comments:

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

Thanks for writing, even when it is hard. I have been praying about that heart of flesh, myself this week.

Fondly,
Glenda

Kelly Combs said...

Congrats on your new venture.

I know what you mean about the writing! I am the same. It is especially hard to keep the blogging going when it seems no one is listening. (Readership seems to be so far down, at least on my little blog). Yet, I love th eoutlet an discipline of the writing.

I always enjoy hearing from you and reading what you're up to, even though I don't get over to ocmment every time. Glad you had some solid "in the word" time today and were inspired! Keep it up!

Linda said...

You can't stop writing because you are good. REALLY good. And your writing inspires MANY others to think and reflect and remember to turn to God's word daily. This post is a good reminder to not be jealous and envious of others. A trap I easily fall into. Thanks.

Terri Tiffany said...

I think you are too too hard on yourself! I've gone through so many periods where I felt I couldn't write, and needed to sit back and just grow and let my mind return to why I love to write--not to for publication but for the shear love of doing it.

Cheryl Barker said...

I'm not at all surprised that you found your inspiration in the Word. It has a way of doing that, huh? I pray that God will continue to speak to you and renew you, Kelli. You have a gift for writing, and He will show you how He wants you to use it.

Blessings to you, my friend!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Writing has been very hard for me in the past few months; that being said, it's a connection I need with my soul and with others. I'm walking a pretty isolated existence right now, and there have been time with the well runs pretty dry. But recently, I've gotten back to personal Bible study in a deliberate way, and the clouds are starting to lift. I'm being challenged in my faith like never before, but I'm also being met by a Father who refuses to let me remain as I am.

No matter the spiritual gymnastics I go through in my mind I can't shake the pursuit of my God. He's tenacious in his love and want of me... I pray to be the same about him.

Keep writing as you can, but never forsake the heart work you must keep doing to stay connected to the Vine. Truly, this is the most important quest of our lives.

Keep to it; I will do the same.

peace~elaine

Just a little something from Judy said...

So well written! It is refreshing to read your take on who you are and WHO HE IS. I have really enjoyed my visit here, especially after reading the side bar about who you are. Thank you for sharing this post on jealousy. I say a hearty "amen".

Sue J. said...

You do too much writing not to keep writing. But, having looked at "this" and "this" (even if I can't access "that" I can fill in some blanks)....your focus is on other projects and efforts--using your gifts and skills--which will impact many other people. Life is full!

But, it only takes a glance at one "wrong" thing to get your mind thinking, "Well, why can't I do it all? Shouldn't I do it all?" And then you go down that slippery slope of being overworked without that undercurrent of His indescribable peace.

You do great and wonderful things for people. You are a true professional. But I'm so thankful that you know the God of the universe, who will guide your paths and give you what you need for each day. He will bring you "out of your mind" and into His wonderful light!

Keep speaking your heart... and do only that to which you are called!

Laura said...

Hey, Kelli. I've been in that dark place too of late. I'm trying to do the same--spend more time with Him, draw close.

This is a great example of how that renews. Such an insightful post! Keep digging deep, sweet friend. He uses you.

Julie Gillies said...

Hi Kelli,

You sure seem to have your hands full with the "this and that". :)

I've really cut back on blogging because I seem to be in a busy time in my life, and something had to give. But I want you to know I TOTALLY relate to something you said, because I'm also one of the slowest writers on the planet. Ugh. You are not alone, girl. But it's okay. God knows what and how much we can do (and how long it will take us). *grin*

His grace really IS sufficient.

Phil D. Malmstrom said...

You may be a slow writer by your definition, but you most certainly have a gift for writing. Thank you so much for your posting, and for sharing your struggle with us.

Quite often when I'm working on my daily posting, I find myself looking in the Bible and listening for His Voice. In more than a few cases, it ends up taking a direction I never planned on, but I end up learning more about myself in the process, and on what His desires are for me.

Thank you for your wonderful entry, and I look forward to reading more soon!