I haven't been writing lately because of a stressed-out mind. I have so many pages of notes from which I can expound into blog form, but somehow, the stress of wanting to write well KEEPS me from writing. I write and pitch, write and pitch.
"Perfection is a slow-dying disease," I say to my piano students. "You don't have to be perfect in any part of life, except piano," I joke.
However, this attitude is really damning when it comes to writing. The demand for perfection causes all creative juices of the mind to dry up. Soon enough, not only can't I write well, I can't even write.
I realize that my problem comes from a proud soul. My soul demands tribute..."Produce something to make me proud," it says. "Or else..." The "else" includes stress, penitence, a neurotic process of self-reflection, more stress, and still no flow. God feels so far away.
I have to just realize that my soul is proud. There is work that you do out of goodness, such as bake Christmas cookies to give to kids, and then there's work that you do out of pride, such as bake 50 miniature fruitcake out of real rum and candied fruit...after stirring the candied mix everyday for 30 days, you bake the cakes to give to sophisticated acquaintances. I did both baking projects, and the fruitcake project was horribly stressful. I remember opening my oven door and watching all the cake batter bubbling and running over the cake pans, and crying...literally bawling...because after stirring for a month, the baking part was not working out! My daughter, age 8 at the time, had to pet my sorry head and comfort me.
The funny thing is, God is not impressed with our works of pride at all. My works of pride was produced at the cost of relationships with loved ones, joy in the home, and time I could have spent sitting in His peaceful presence.
As I contemplate why I have writer's block, God showed me this pride issue as well as his original will for me: He wants me to give him my empty jars and He promised to fill them with oil. The widow from 2 Kings 4:1-7 had a cruz of oil that kept flowing as long as she kept finding empty jars to pour into. She gathered all the jars from her house and borrowed jars from her neighbors' house. The oil never stopped flowing until she ran out of jars.
God showed me how my writing is simply a conduit of His anointed Truth, and all that He requires of me are "empty jars" - chunks of unoccupied time set aside for the Lord to write through me. It is my soul that is seduced into richer, deeper, and better things. But that's prideful. God simply wants to use me - not fancy or nice - just plain me.
Same things with you. God wants to use you - not fancy or nice, brilliant or impressive - just plain you. It takes trust to do what God tells you to do, adding nothing. It takes faith to just begin what God put on your heart to begin, offering no explanations or apologies. If you know only the first step, take that first step.
God was saying to me, "Bring me your empty jars - chunks of undisturbed time to sit in my presence and write. When you've found a jar to pour into, the anointing will come and flow."
This principle applies to all the times when we need to do God's will. Don't let your insecurity or lack of confidence hinder you. Sometimes we Christians want to hold on to these things, mistakening them for humility. But as Pastor Dan preached in the sermon "Losing My Religion," true humility is when you take no thought for your life. Don't consider whether you did a good job or not. Don't consider what kind of fruit you're bearing. Don't consider how others view you. Don't consider the effects of your ministry. "Take no thought for your life." (Matthew 6:25)
This faith walk is as simple as when the Priests and Levites stepped into the waters of the Jordan to cross over to the Promise Land. There was no way two and a half million people and countless livestock were going to wade across the Jordan. They didn't wait at the banks discussing how to build a bamboo bridge over it. They didn't pray and cry and quote scriptures to persuade God to do a miracle. Joshua simply listened for His still, small voice to give instructions.
15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. (Joshua 3:15-17)
This spiritual principle applies to everything God calls you to do. When the priests stepped into the water, the waters parted and exposed dry ground. God comes through after we step out in faith. So...I preach mostly to myself...don't let your pride - disguised as insecurity or self awareness - hinder you, distract you, or slow you down. Just do God's will. Be unstoppable for the sake of His Kingdom! Just do it!