Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4: 1, 7-9
It's been a year. A year since the writer's conference last May.
It doesn't seem like that long; well, sometimes it feels longer.
I've spent several years working on a manuscript and, finally, I felt ready to present it to a few agents and publishers. Excited, I met with 3 agents and 1 publisher. The reaction was not what I'd hoped for.
"It's great! It's innovative! It's imaginative!" they said. I was thrilled.
"It's too innovative. It's too imaginative. We're not sure we can sell it. It's a big risk." I crashed.
A roller coaster built on someone else's expectations and opinions.
I dragged myself home.
I promptly threw myself a not-so-little pity party with boxes of tissues and sad movies. It went on for months.
When it was finally over, doubts remained:
- Did God really call me to do this? To be a writer, a parent, a nurse or doctor, a lawyer or a janitor? Why?!
- There's no way I can do this, I'm inept and totally incapable. My writing's gibberish, my parenting skills are nil, my compassion disappears with my first cup of coffee. I don't care anymore.
- It's too hard, I can't keep going. Every sentence is torture, I want to give up on my marriage and my kids, no one's life is better because I'm here, I'm sick of cleaning up other people's messes. I want to quit.
- If God really wanted me to do this, why is it so difficult?
One morning not so long ago, I read 2 Corinthians 4. In His grace, God whispered to me as I read: Here are 4 truths to conquer the 4 Ds.
1. "Through God’s mercy we have this ministry."
Why did He call me to do this? It's an expression of His mercy! Mercy shown to me; without it, I wouldn't be His child and I'd be useless to Him. Mercy shown to others around me. He uses me, in some small way, to show His love to those who need it.
When He calls us to serve Him, it's an expression of His mercy - mercy the world starves for.
2. "Treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
Any treasure in us - talents, abilities, gifts - are poured into us by God. Any power we have comes from God and God alone.
3. "We are hard pressed on every side... perplexed...persecuted...struck down..."
Excuse me, but I'd prefer to skip this part of being used. I want to be in my beautiful house and bless others while I sit on my comfy couch. That's how I would do it in my own power.
God does it in His all-surpassing power. If the work is easy, I glory in my power. If the work is hard, I become an instrument of His power.
My power brings failure; His power brings glory to His Name.
4. "We are not crushed...not in despair...not abandoned...not destroyed."
Who says we're not? When I got home from the conference, I felt all of those. I had to choose to change my perspective.
- When I listened, God spoke to me through His Word.
- When I shared my struggles with my dear friends, they encouraged me.
- When I prayed as I sat at my keyboard, words came. Lots of them were still deleted but, more and more, they expressed the treasure He poured into me.
When we submit our weaknesses to His power and trust Him to work through us, impossible became possible.
Here it is, May again. The writers conference begins in a few days. What is my choice? Do I cower at home or step forward in God's power?
I choose God's power!
When have you struggled with God's call? How did He lift you up?
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