March 22, 2010

To Live is Christ — it is not about me

When I was in grade nine, the most popular girl in school passed me a note that said something like this: “I really envy you and your sister. Your parents discipline you and have rules. Mine don’t. Because of that, I do not feel like they love me.”

This note changed my attitude about love, popularity and discipline. Love means someone cares enough to correct me if I am doing something wrong. Few “friends” will do that, and perhaps that is why I am drawn to this verse that Solomon wrote, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6).

The Bible reminds me over and over that the love of God includes correction. God is a faithful friend. He says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”  (Revelation 3:19)

Even though I know these things, a rebuke sometimes hurts deeply. When done for reasons other than love and concern for my well being, I generally defend myself. Yet when God does it, His way is usually so gentle and so thoughtful, that I feel hugged and booted at the same time. I know I’m safe in bringing my concerns about my own life to Him. He will tell me the truth and reminds me often to remember His faithfulness and not get upset when He corrects me.

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5–11)
God never corrects because I am an embarrassment to Him. His rebuke is for my sake that I might be more like Jesus.

Last weekend I went to a writer’s workshop. The main speaker said much about the tendency to hesitate when we hit rough spots. If our work isn’t going well, we feel like quitting. If our manuscripts are rejected, we feel like quitting. If someone says anything negative or critical of our writing, we feel like quitting. However, he rebuked that attitude in much the same way as the author of The Purpose Driven Life began his book — It isn’t about me.

Writing is for others. God demonstrates that in His own communication. He speaks to us through a book, actually sixty-six books. His Son became a man to tell us what He is like. Jesus is called the Living Word. Christian writers have a message of hope and grace that can be conveyed in story, parables, Bible studies and a host of other written methods of communication. So what if some do not respond or some are critical of the message? It isn’t about me.

This was a rebuke from God. I sit on lots of manuscripts. They take up space on my computer when they could be out there. God could use them — but He cannot use idleness or blank pages. My devotional verses tell me to repent, to turn from my fears and negativity to obedience. God isn’t saying this to make my life miserable. He says it that I might yield fruit, not for me but for Him and for those whom He speaks to through my writing.

To live is Christ means changing my schedule, dropping useless and time-wasting activities, and doing what He gives me to do without any concerns. If He gives me something to say, He will also find ears to hear it. As the speaker said, I will be criticized if I write, and criticized if I do not write. Rather than be concerned about the critics, I need to listen to Him and give Him whatever I can. It is not about me. God can use (or not use) my words to make a difference in the world — but only if I produce them.

1 comment:

Judy said...

Just want to say thanks so much for your post today Elsie! I finished the second to last paper for my class on worldview foundations in educational leadership late last night. This morning I was feeling rather down about the whole process. So your thoughts,reminders, and challenges today were just what I needed!