Wow, it has been far too long since I posted anything. To those kind people who asked me from time to time if I had decided to stop blogging . . . thank you. The fact that you noticed it had been a while and took the time to tell me you missed the posts meant a lot.
In truth, I didn’t decide to stop blogging, but I did decide to take a break. Last summer, I decided it was time to write something new, and so I began work on a historical novel set in World War II. Since most of my creative writing in the past has been either young adult fantasy or contemporary short stories, trying to research Hitler’s euthanasia program and work the details into a narrative was . . . well, difficult to say the least. I wanted to finish a draft by the end of the year, so I put aside blogging for a few months to focus on that.
And I wrote words. Sometimes they were half decent—much of the time I just wanted to finish the thing so I could shove it in a metaphysical drawer and forget about its existence. But on New Year’s Eve, I wrote the last words of the last chapter and sighed in relief, glad to give my brain a break for a while.
I intended to re-focus on blogging in January, but that didn’t quite happen, so here we are! I’ve been mulling over my blog for the last few weeks and trying to decide what to do with it. When I started blogging in 2014 (wow, was it really that long ago?), I had this vision for a blog that focused on story in its many different aspects—historical, personal, fictional, etc. That vision has shifted a bit since then though. As much as I loved writing the stories of non-profits, I simply don’t have the time I need to do that while still working full time, and honestly, my historical and fictional posts have never gotten as many responses as my personal ones.
One thing hasn’t changed though: I still believe wholeheartedly that God uses stories to do amazing things. Maybe I believe it even more strongly after watching the power of stories work in the lives of families every day for the past couple years at work.
So here are a couple thoughts I want to leave you with for today. Last summer, in my small group, we watched a video series by pastor and author Andy Stanley about discovering God’s will. In one session he told the story of Nehemiah, the guy who mustered the Jewish people to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem in fifty-two days.
Now, many of the current residents of the land around Jerusalem weren’t too happy to hear that Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall around the city. Chief among those enemies were three guys named Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. In chapter 6 of the book of Nehemiah, the trio devised a plan to harm Nehemiah and sent him a message: “Come and let us meet together at such-and-such a place.”
“And I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’” Nehemiah 6:3
Four more times, the men sent the same message to Nehemiah, even threatening to spread rumors that he planned to rebel against the king if he kept refusing to meet with them.
“For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
Every time they sent him a message, Nehemiah gave the same response.
I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.
I am doing a great work. I. Cannot. Come. Down.
In his sermon, Andy Stanley urged his listeners not to be turned aside from the work God had given them to do. As I listened, two things came to mind for me: I needed to refocus on my relationship with God and let Him heal some places that had been broken for far too long. And I needed to write—it didn’t matter what, really, as long as I was writing words and continuing to use the gift He had given me. I chose the WW2 novel as a starting place.
I expect those “great works” will continue to evolve and shift and take on slightly different roles in my life. But in this new year, I find myself thinking about it again, wondering what’s next, and wanting to ask you:
What is the great work God has placed in your life?
Because there is one. Maybe it looks a little different than you thought it would when you signed on for this whole following Jesus thing. Maybe it’s not as exciting as you thought it would be when you were sitting in Sunday school hearing about the “great works” God gave to David or Noah (because, let’s be honest: not many of us are going to kill a giant, become king, or save the last of humanity from a flood).
Maybe it’s spreading an atmosphere of kindness and commitment to excellence throughout a workplace littered with gossip and apathy. Maybe it’s caring for those little ones God gave you and holding your tongue when they’ve asked why for the bazillionth time and teaching them to be kind and to love Jesus. Maybe it’s trusting God’s plan and finding a different way to serve Him than you maybe wanted when the relationship with that guy or that girl didn’t work out and you’re still walking with just Him alone instead of with a family. Maybe it’s stepping out and serving someone who looks or thinks completely differently than you. Maybe it’s holding desperately to hope and testifying to His faithfulness in the middle of the hardest thing you’ve ever faced.
I don’t know what your great work is. It might be quieter or bolder or stranger or wilder or easier or harder than you ever imagined. But I bet it’s beautiful.
That’s my wish for you in 2017—to find the great work God has for you and to hold fast to it with everything you have.
Thanks for joining me today. It’s truly a privilege to do life with you.