Monday, December 22, 2008

Whose Pen Is It, Betsy?

Somebody is very angry with me.

This particular person believes that it is wrong for me to use my writing gift as I do. They believe I have my focus wrong. Because I have chosen to write the sorts of things that I write, and have not written a "Keep Christ in Christmas" letter to my city officials, this individual has made it clear that they want nothing more to do with me, except to send me the occasional angry email expressing their belief that people like me are to blame for everything that's wrong with our country. So far, my attempts at reconciliation have been ignored or rebuffed.

I confess, the situation threw me for a while. Fear of man crept into my soul...the desire to be liked, or at least to be vindicated. Prideful anger simmered and stewed and sometimes boiled over. And I couldn't seem to feel the Spirit's guidance anymore. Inspiration for writing dried up.

In other words, it's been a very helpful experience.

I've had a wonderful opportunity to see sin in my heart, and to deal with it before God. Repeatedly. And as of this morning I've been given fresh clarity about God's desire for the gifts He has given me.

You see, I've been very conflicted. I didn't want to seem to be an uncaring, irresponsible American. I felt I ought to write something to my city officials, to "fight for our rights" as I was urged to do, but I had no idea what to write. The city had included Christian themes in its holiday display, but rumor had it that there were some officials who didn't want them there.

I couldn't in good conscience write a letter based on second or third hand information. "I've heard that there are some people who don't want Christian symbols used during the holidays! Well, let me tell you..."


And as for the whole issue of Christmas...well...I haven't studied the issue in depth, but I'm somewhat aware of its pagan roots. My family celebrates Christmas, but I certainly can't be dogmatic about how right that is.

Also, inevitably, my conflicted mind would always crash into this one simple fact:
If I write any letter at all, regardless of what it says, it will have been written because of and for the person who is angry with me...and to satisfy my desire to be liked.
At that point, I just mentally "threw up my hands" and thought about something else. I didn't know where to go. Pride didn't want me to yield my pen to anyone else, especially to someone who was angry with me. And when I saw the sin in my pride, it left me confounded. I just didn't know what to do.

Well, that's not entirely true. There was one thing I knew to do. I kept confessing the sin that constantly welled to the surface, confessing my confusion, confessing how desperately I needed Him, even though I couldn't seem to feel Him, and it seemed that He was "hiding His face."
I will wait on the LORD,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
and I will hope in Him.
Isa 8:17
God is so good!

This morning I had barely awakened when I felt His answer. It came with a feeling of peace and cleansing that I recognize as His handiwork.

It's a joy. I've missed Him.

Right when I woke up He spoke to me of Moses.

When I gave Moses an audience with Pharaoh, did he proceed to tell Pharaoh to celebrate any holidays, or did he say what I told him to let My people go so that THEY could worship me? Did I want Pharaoh to celebrate any holidays with his godless heart?

When I gave Paul an audience before King Agrippa, did he demand the right to do anything? Or did he, led by My Spirit, give his salvation testimony and express his hope that those who had arrested him would be saved?

Oh, how sweetly and purely those words fell on my heart! But He wasn't finished with His gentle reproof yet.

You want the joy of writing with My guidance, don't you?

Oh yes, Lord, I've missed You terribly!

Then why are you even thinking of writing independently of Me? Did you even ask Me if you should write anything to the city officials?

(Gulp.) No. I never did ask. I sometimes asked for generic "wisdom," but never actually asked if I should write to them at all. My desire to save face by doing what the angry person wanted...or to feed my pride by refusing what the angry person wanted...those opposing desires were what I consulted. And they kept leading me around in circles.

You were right to ask for wisdom. And you were right not to want to yield your pen to any human. But aren't YOU a human? Why did you want to keep your pen in your own human hands, instead of yielding it to Me?

Yes, Lord, you are so right! Thank You!

You wanted to write by My Spirit, but not for Me!

How foolish of me, Lord!

Have I asked you to write to the city?

No, You haven't.

So will you write to them?

No, not unless You tell me to.

I may, you know, at a different time.

That's Your right. If You do, I will write with joy. I know how it feels when Your Spirit fills and overflows through my fingers. There's no mistaking You, and writing for You is pure joy.

Whose pen is it, Betsy?

Yours. I'm so glad it's Yours!

Oh, what fresh air breathes into my soul when God takes all confusion away!

Please, brothers and sisters in Christ, let's remember that the Lord has a path for each of His children to walk in. And none of us can pour our energies into every possible cause, or burn with every possible passion. Contrary to what some may think, it would have been sinful of me to take up someone else's favorite cause, their favorite passion, when it was not God's direction for me.
Peter...said to Jesus,
"But Lord, what about this man?"
Jesus said to him, "...what is that to you?
You follow Me."
(John 21:21-22)
And in the same way, we cannot judge anyone else's calling. God has called them to work in one way, and He has called us to work in others.
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." (1Co 12:17-21)
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Co. 3:17). Each one is free as long as they walk in obedience to the Spirit. It is not for anyone to put another in bondage, trying to force others into the path that the Spirit has laid out for themselves.

May I suggest that we cannot even attend to the Spirit's still, small voice in our own hearts, if we're stridently arguing with other believers about the paths we want them to walk if we, not the Spirit, should command them? (Yes, we are to deal with sin in other believers, but sin is not the issue in this case.)
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Rom 14:4)
May we all enjoy a new joy, and peace, and liberty, and love for the Lord and for our brethren this Christmas season, and all year round!

As always, I welcome comments. I must ask, though, that we not use this blog as a place to debate the rightness or wrongness of Christmas. I will moderate comments in the spirit of Romans 14.

Photo from Stock.xchng by DontBblu.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Gracious. Talk about a simmering thought! Your pen belongs to God, Betsy. As his child, you are required to be a good steward of the gift, and you, indeed, have a gift. To please him with your words. Not man.

I'm sorry for the struggle; still and yet, you've found your peace, and that, my friend, is freedom. Walk in it today, knowing that truth of who you are in Christ.

If I took up every cause that others think I should, I would have long since checked myself into the state mental hospital less than a mile down the road!

Merry Christmas.


Mary Moss said...

I don't even know where to begin to respond to this post. I am so grateful for your transparency and honesty in sharing your human frailty. Thank you, thank you.

"I know how it feels when Your Spirit fills and overflows through my fingers. There's no mistaking You, and writing for You is pure joy." I know how that feels to and there is no feeling like it, is there?

Grace upon grace.

Laurie M. said...

Thanks for sharing your struggle. I've found myself in situations often where I can't seem to please anyone. I'll write what's on my heart & mind, and someone attacks it; then I start second-guessing myself. It's good to listen to the criticism and evaluate it prayerfully - but I go beyond that and find that old fear of man rising up. Then I want to give up writing at all. Remembering "Whose pen it is" solid counsel. Thanks again.

Julie said...

You wrote, "Please, brothers and sisters in Christ, let's remember that the Lord has a path for each of His children to walk in."

Interesting that you should use the word "path". My Dad, who holds God's Word in high regard, once pointed out Psalm 23:3 "... He leads me in paths of righteousness..."

God is specific. He said "paths" not "path". Of course, that isn't making a case for "all paths lead to God", or any of THAT nonsense. But it says "paths of righteousness", as in, more than one.

As you said, "Each one is free as long as they walk in obedience to the Spirit. It is not for anyone to put another in bondage, trying to force others into the path that the Spirit has laid out for themselves."

Glad you found your path :0)

Tami Boesiger said...

I love this, Betsy. Don't be too hard on yourself. We all fall into this trap. It is especially hard when we don't meet the expectations of dear friends, isn't it?

Sometimes God will ask me to write things I know others will not like, but I have to trust Him to make good of it. Writing involves great personal risk that many do not understand. Those of us who feel called to do so have no choice but to obey the One who guides our pens. Our writing is worth nothing if we don't.

Thank you for this important reminder, Betsy. Merry Christmas.

Sherri Ward said...

Though we struggle, the important thing is not to give up - always remembering how much He loves us, and working through every difficult situation knowing He is with us and will get us through it. "Follow Me" is so simple and individual.
Blessings to you and your family, and thanks for sharing from your heart.

Yvonne said...

Betsy, I love your humble attitude! I am so thankful that you are listening to the Lord and His leading in your life.

He had to teach this to me over the last year. I don't want to write anything but what He wants me to write. Psalm 19:15 I want my "words to be acceptable in His sight"

Thank you, Betsy, for another thought provoking wonderful post.

Dear Lord, help us to be sensitive to Your leading and will. Amen

Jennifer said...

You and I think so much alike! I only wish I had the time and patience to be as reflective in my writing as you are. I had a similar experience last February. God was so good through it all. I pray you will be blessed in spite of this disappointing turn in your friendship with this individual. Merry Christmas to you!

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