Friday, January 30, 2009

What's This?

A blog post! Where has the time gone? Well... starting late January 15 our 2009 Arizona Bible Conference unofficially began. It lasted until late Sunday, January 18th and was the best conference I've had yet. I was amazed by the way God orchestrated things, from the teaching, to the living examples of that teaching, to the challenges people wrestled with both from the teaching and from each other, to the interactions between them. It was truly like a living organism, the way people fell and rose again, and came and went, bringing challenge, inspiration, nourishment and encouragement, and carrying away the waste materials of old, wrong thinking, pain, bondage, condemnation and failure.

God told me through the classes and through nearly every person I spoke with that I have to stop trying to do things, stop trying to take control with this book. He will do it. He told me that I cannot make the deadline an idol to which I sacrifice my life and time and peace (and really, my relationship with Him) in hopes of satisfying it and not bringing its wrath down upon my head.

He told me that Jesus was late to the wedding at Cana, and when the people came to tell him about Jairus's daughter who was dying, he dawdled and thus missed His deadline, which was a true deadline: the girl died before He got there. Ah, but He's in the business of resurrecting the dead, and missing that deadline was part of the plan.

The lessons have continued since, and I have fought them. At least until the last few days. This all sounds so trite and superficial in light of what has happened. But for the longest time I have been so confused. How do I relax and let Him do it (speaking specifically of writing this book) and yet do the work? When I relax, I always think I get too relaxed and wander off into distraction. When I try to work, I get too wrapped up in it and start to try to take control.

There are many aspects involved in this whole situation. One of them is the fact that our sin nature doesn't just produce sin, it produces good. Good that is disgusting to God (as Isaiah 64:6 reminds us -- all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment). The trouble is, it doesn't seem disgusting to us. It seems good to the natural mind. It seems right. And sensible and professional.

And that's been part of my problem with this whole book and deadline thing. What God has been working on in me (not me working, I've given up) is not my sins and weaknesses, though they come out, but my strengths. My tendency toward human good. I want to fix things. I want to make that application. I see that I'm not supposed to care about the deadline or whatever, and now I want to make myself not care. I see that I'm supposed to do my work heartily and now I want to make myself do it (even though I may not be sure what "heartily" means and may not even stop to think I might not know -- or, maybe, can't know?). So part of what I've concluded in the last few weeks is that I just can't do it. Which is really ironic, given how many times I've told other people that we can't change ourselves. Oh, but I want to. So badly, do I want to.

I want the Life beyond Dreams. I want to be a winner. I don't want to be ashamed in heaven. I want to do what I'm supposed to do and to obey. And what I'm grappling with is the reality of how the old self can take those perfectly good and legitimate desires and warp them. Seize them for itself and go running off on a plan to make them happen. And it doesn't seem wrong or wicked at all. It seems very right and good and even doctrinal. Which, as I said, is often how human good seems to the natural mind.

The laughable thing about it all is that it's not very long before I've fallen into frustration, dismay, anger, anxiety, guilt, condemnation, etc, because I can't execute my plans. I told the Lord, "I don't know how to just let go and still do the work. I don't know how to wait and still be ready. If I start trying to make sure I'm taking every thought captive and sort out what doctrine to apply I end up tying myself in knots."

And He told me I don't need to know. He'll do it. I just need to relax.

He reminded me of One Day at a Time and Stay out of the Future. What I must consciously do is STOP thinking about anything related to the future. Focus on today. Focus on the work I'm doing today. Not the work I have yet to do, or the work I will do tomorrow, only the work I have to do today. And of that, really, only the next thing. Whatever is the next thing -- the next chapter, the next scene, the next paragraph. That's all I need to do right now. When that is, done, then I will focus on the next thing.

He reminded me to believe Him when He says He will be good to those who wait for Him, to the person who diligently seeks Him. (Lam 3:25) To rest in His Hands. The book is His production, not mine. When someone else is in charge of an operation, you don't have to think about the big picture, you only have to think about the task you've been assigned in it.

He reminded me that even if everything seems like it's wrong, it's not. Everything is actually right, because it's exactly as He has chosen it to be in eternity past, for His glory and the blessing and benefit of His creatures. Like me. Whatever happens, whatever comes in that looks like a disaster, a hindrance, a delay... it's okay. He's got it all in hand. He's decreed it to be.

He reminded me that when I'm confused or lost or tired, I can come to Him for answers, guidance and renewal. This may seem like a "DUH" point, but I lose sight of it sometimes when I'm deep in the mire of paragraphs and lines of dialogue and bits of scene setting and elements of world building that all need to be integrated somehow in a way that makes sense, moves the plot, is internally consistent, doesn't use too many words, and sounds good. I was formerly getting frustrated and overwhelmed and backing off. I still do that, but now, after a break, I go back and ask Him to show me. He has been.

As a result I now have, in finished form, the first 29 chapters of The Enclave. I don't know how many chapters there are going to be. Maybe 40. Maybe more. I told my editor that I didn't think I would finish it all by the 9th but that it would not be too long after it. Maybe a week. Maybe two. We're playing it by ear. And things are finally starting to get clearer. Not flow, necessarily, but it's gathering shape and substance and clarity, which in itself is motivating. It's hard to keep pushing yourself through a sea of mush...

Anyway, that's kind of where I've been for the last couple of weeks. And oddly, I've had no words for the blog. I wasn't even intending to write this one, but suddenly the Spirit moved. And here it is. How about that?