You know, I was sitting here wondering why I persist to type words into a OneNote 2010 page, when it struck me that writing is a true act of faith.
Who knows whether or not anyone will read them? I mean, most of us write because we want to connect with others. But honestly, my book did not sell anything like I thought it would when I dreamt of its release. For years I had ideas of what it would be like to be a published author. Not because I wanted fame or fortune. The realities are much different than movies. But because I wanted to serve and impact readers. Wow! Where was my head?
WRITING FOR CHANGE
No, I believe that my first book and my blog have taught me a lot. I still want to connect, but now whether I do or not I realize that I write because I have something to say and I love saying it. I believe that God has given me a perspective that combines with a gift of encouragement, to help others to be all that they can be in Christ.
I also know how much I love a helpful book. I’m changed by the reading and applying of what I read to my life. When a good book mentors me, I’m a better man for that. I want to pass that gift along to those who read my books. I want my books to mentor, coach along the journey to Christ’s Kingdom reign.
Truly, faith is keeping at something, even when you don’t see the results you expected. It’s believing what cannot be seen but being assured that it’s the right thing to believe.
Before I completed and published my first book, I had breakfast with Gordon MacDonald at Friendlies. I wanted him to mentor me as a writer. He asked me to tell him my story. I talked. He listened graciously. I realized even while I was talking that I wasn’t communicating my passion for writing. Instead, I was telling him something else. It was as though God was allowing him to see something in me that needed addressing.
After breakfast, he recommended that I read a book. “This is not a Christian book I’m recommending, but it will be helpful for you to read it,” he said.
The title was In the Shadow of Fame: A Memoir by the Daughter of Erik H. Erikson by Susan Erikson Bloland, the daughter of famed child psychologist, Erik Erickson. As a sidenote, I’m just finishing a memoir of a woman who separated from her husband for a year and met Joan Erickson while walking along the beach. They became close friends. That book is entitled A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, by Joan Anderson.
In retrospect, I realized that my reasons for publishing were mixed. Shortly after I read Bloland’s book, I completed my book. I sought the Lord to purify my motives. Then I released the book at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and for Kindle and Nook. Sales were mainly to family, friends, and fellow pastors. Of course my church family and fellow associational leaders encouraged me as well. But that was about it. For the first year, I continued to write. But then I stopped.
I went into a depression which, I later found out, was a “dark night of the soul.” I withdrew from people and things I usually enjoyed. I felt exhausted all the time. Because I was a busy pastor and associational leader as well, I began to question my calling.
Everything lost is taste and savor. Fortunately for me, I had praying friends and ministry partners. Some wise counsel helped me recognize God at work, not the enemy. He was taking everything but Him. Funny, because I thought I had given him everything already–many times. But He sees deeper than we ever could.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
I’m on the other side of all that now. It took two and a half more years to slowly let go of everything but Him. It was truly a spiritual winter. But the great thing about tracking through the winter with the Lord is that spring is the next season to follow. Spring is a time for sowing and planting, digging around and preparation.
Now I’m settled in a great peace, waiting only on Him. I am also searching out a coach on the road ahead of me in spiritual formation, while at the same time coaching those whom God has sent my way. But I’m no longer an expert–Dr. Alves. I’m merely a witness, testifying to whatever the Lord shows or entrusts to me.
And . . . I’m writing again. Writing by faith. My one prayer is that the Lord will use the process of writing by faith in my life first . . . And if He so chooses, in the lives of those who may be drawn by His Spirit to read.
QUESTION: Have you ever experienced what I’m talking about?
Have you ever had a really bad week and reacted in ways that discouraged you? You thought that you had dealt with that anger. You thought that you were reacting more like Jesus, and all of a sudden . . . someone set you off and the “old you” was still there.
Well, I had a day like that last week. Those little annoyances get under the skin and I find myself reacting in anger or defensive tones with people. As I’ve grown in the Lord, it happens less and less, but it still happens. Then our Enemy starts in, “You think you’re such a good Christian. Well, you’re no different than you’ve ever been.”
We ask, “Lord . . . how long till I change and get the victory?”
Those are discouraging times for us.
But Phil. 1:6 says “ . . . he who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
In another place, Scripture says that we are being transformed “from glory to glory DAILY.” The Lord reminds me that He is not finished with me yet. I am growing. I have changed. And so have you.
As we take off the old self and put on the new, Jesus will manifest Himself in the new self that He has placed in us. Paul said, I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I. But Christ lives in me.
Jesus is in the transformation business and you and I are His favorite subjects. He will complete what He has started. And sooner than you think, you (and I) will come forth as gold.
Father, will you please keep us focused on Jesus. Keep us anchored in your character and living out of the new self, created to be like you in true righteousness and holiness. Thank you Father.
©2012, David C Alves
Have you ever felt like you’re stuck? You just can’t seem to get unstuck from where you find yourself at this point in your life. No matter what self-talk or how much you pray, nothing seems to move you ahead toward your final destination?
In sailing, this condition is know as “becalmed.” Some times this can be because the wind simply stops. There’s nothing we can do about that. Sailing depends upon the wind. As every sailor of small craft knows, without an engine a becalmed sailboat has no other option but to wait out the calm and pray for a breeze.
Marcy and I love sailing. We’ve owned two sail boats. First a small Sunfish, then a larger 18 footer. We LOVED our time on board. There’s nothing like a well-equipped, nicely appointed, sea-worthy boat (may be a hold-over from my Navy days). Any chance or invitation we get, we jump on board. Yet we’ve found ourselves becalmed many times.
Sometimes our slower headway was because we “fell off”–meaning we turned away from the direction wind. Or directly into the wind and allowed the main sail to luff. Sometimes we did it on purpose to stop the forward movement so we could fix something.
On another occasion, we “broached.” A broach is when a sailing vessel looses control and suddenly turns sharply away from its intended direction of travel. A broach usually involves heavy heeling over to one side and we’ve almost capsized on the Sunfish when we broached.
In my life, I have “fallen off” and “broached” as a result of discouragement or disappointment or over-commitment. In any case, these conditions prevent forward movement toward our destination because we turn from the direction of the Spirit’s movement.
The wind we need for navigating life’s seasons is the wind of the Spirit of God. Interesting that the Greek word for spirit is pneuma, meaning literally “wind.” Without the wind of God in our lives we can founder and simply drift, with no seeming purpose or direction.
Sometimes the wind just seems to disappear (it never really does) but it’s so gentle that it can’t fill our sails enough to overcome our inertia. At those times Marcy and I have had to just sit and wait. We watched the colored tell-tale on the top of the mast and at the end of the sheet, waiting for something more serious than mild waving. We filled our waiting with prayer and talked to each other, making the most of our time. Those times of quiet have been rich for us. Soon enough, the wind returned and we were once again speeding over the water.
If you’re becalmed right now in your life, if you find yourself unable to move ahead, don’t despair. Don’t be discouraged. This can be a season for you to enjoy a closer fellowship with the lover of your soul. The Lord will move you on soon enough. Right now though you may have need to WAIT. Waiting upon the Lord is not easy for busy, working people; but it is needful.
Soon enough the wind of the Spirit will fill you and move you to the desired port or safe harbor.
If you’ve broached, finding yourself off balance, just prayerfully turn back into the wind and set sail again. Put it behind you and learn from it. You can sail the next season that much more experienced.
If you know someone whose life is becalmed right now, or if she has fallen off course, why not be a friend and send her a link to this post. Taking the moment to act kindly may be just the encouragement that she needs right now and your kindness will build her up.
©2011, David C Alves
Photo used by permission. ©2011, Chad Dutson, Daily Capture