Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Complete your ministry

2 Timothy 4:5New Living Translation (NLT)

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
This verse jumped out at me the other week when my husband was preaching on a different passage, but on the same page as this verse. 

I have been struggling recently about following through with my memoir and doing what I need to do to get an agent and ultimately, I hope, to have it published by a publishing house. I had been considering self-publishing, but I believe that for this particular project, the "old-fashioned" way is the way to go.  

At the beginning of 2016, I made a list of goals, one of which was to finally follow through with my dream of having my memoir published. When I learned that I would be teaching online only for the summer, I determined that this summer is THE TIME. I set a new goal to have an agent by the end of the summer and I began doing the necessary research to create a list of agents to contact. After I had a short list (to start with), I did a little more research on writing the necessary book proposal.

And I sat down with my trusty new computer on my lap on my comfy lap desk and opened to a new Word document....only to have a panic attack as I sat and stared at the blank screen in front of me.

That was back at the beginning of my summer semester--about two months ago now--and I haven't written anything or done anything to proceed with my goal in any way, shape, form, or fashion since that fateful day. I've been almost paralyzed with fear at even the THOUGHT of writing the proposal, let alone of sending it off to any book agents!

As I have spent time praying about this over the past several weeks, the Holy Spirit has been gently chastising me in my fear. 

I doubt whether or not I am doing what God wants me to do. Is this dream of having my memoir published by a publishing house MY dream or what God has directed me to do? In my heart of heart, in the very depths of my soul, I am sure that God has given me this directive. I have had this vision, this desire--this dream--for more than 17 years now. I have heard over and over again in my life of faith that when God puts a dream in our hearts, it never goes away. That is one way we can know our dream is of Him and not of our own volition.

I doubt my worthiness in publishing my story. Why would anyone want to read my story? What makes me so "special" that I should--that I deserve--to have my story published? While I LOVE to write, what in the world makes me think that anyone else wants to read what I write even if I think that what I write is actually pretty good?

When the Holy Spirit gives us a gift, it is important that we remember that it is a GIFT, a present, given in love not because we are deserving, but simply because of love. When I don't accept His gift, He will give it to someone who will accept it with wide open arms. Considering how very much I love to write and that in my heart, I honestly don't care whether or not anyone ever reads what I write, it is clear to me that writing is one of my gifts from the Holy Spirit himself.

(Granted, I do get a little jump in my heart when I see the number of you who are reading my blog entries. I do sincerely appreciate it. But even if no one read my entries, I would still write, and that's the whole point I'm getting at.)

As we are studying Priscilla Shirer's Armor of God Bible Study in our Sunday School class, I am learning that the enemy not only attacks us where we are weak and/or vulnerable, but he also attacks us with our ministry or gift that God has given us. When we fail to fulfill God's plan for our lives, the enemy wins. When I allow my doubts or self-recrimination to keep me from following through with writing my proposal and seeking an agent, the enemy is keeping me from what God has specifically given me to do.

As we see in 2 Timothy 4:5, we are to "complete the ministry God has given us." Matthew 25:21 tells us, "His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." I want to be able to stand in front of my Lord and Savior on the day of judgment and hear Him to say to ME, "Well done, my good and faithful servant....enter, Polly, into the JOY of your Lord!" I don't want to be like the wicked servant who feared he would lose his gift so he buried it, causing his lord to cast him into darkness. 

I have read many books on achieving dreams and goals and of pursuing our purpose in life. I am well aware of all the scriptures as well as platitudes that are spouted to help us on our journey to achieve our dreams and not allow anything to get in our way. I know the road is never easy. The path to the top of the mountain is a difficult one, with rocks in the path, getting lost, difficult weather, and even more difficult terrain to traverse. In spite of all the difficulties (sorrows, even) that I must go through on this journey, getting to the top of the mountain, so I'm told and have experience when I've acheived goals and dreams in the past, is so very much worth every difficult step.

I do not want to be one who allows fear or doubt or being unsure of my calling keep me from completing the ministry God has given me. I covet your prayers. It is not about making a name for myself or making money or selling a lot of books. It is all about completing--doing--the ministry the Holy Spirit has gifted me.

What about you? What is keeping you from following your dreams?

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