Before I begin this weeks entry, I would like to take a moment and explain what you have been seeing over all of my pages. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. This organization has been around since 1999. They challenge writers within the month of November to start, write and complete the first draft of a novel. 50,000 words in 30 days. With the new found passion I have for getting back into writing, I found the fit perfect for me. It's challenging and a way to help with accountability.
So far I have written close to 20,000 words for The Five Barred Gate. It's moving along at a brisk pace. I find myself excited at times, but also exhausted at times. Usually, around dinner time, I'm spent. I'm done writing. My shoulders ache from sitting at the computer, my mind aches with focusing my ideas and conveying them onto paper, but the sense of accomplishment is worth it. I am working on something here far beyond me. I feel that this message will grab my readers and not only teach them, but allow them to have a good time reading this work God is flowing through me.
In this week's entry, I need to make a correction. I first stated that this journey began with a challenge from a good friend who wanted to start writing as well. I must refine that statement. While yes, his challenge was real, that is not where it started. It really started at the beginning of this year. It began with our churches yearly Vision Statement. Last year it was "Love Well, Live Well". This year it has been, "Fan into Flame".
For Valentines Day this year there was a chalk artist who came out to our church. He drew an amazing picture of the three crosses.
He was using his gift for Gods glory. Through the next several messages we learned through the book of Romans about Paul and the gift he had of encouragement of those in the churches he was writing to. Now we are reading through Nehemiah. He was called to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Using his gift of leadership and the ability to draw people together for a common good.
While we all can't be encouragers or leaders, each of us has an inborn gift that God has given us. Gifts that will reach out to others and lead them to the Lord. Using these gifts is our responsibility as Christians. The Great Commission, to some, means running off to a foreign country and stand on a soapbox and holler at the top our lungs, "Repent and be saved!!". A little over the top, and for some, that may indeed be their calling. But with a calling, comes the gift to be able to do it. For most of us, being a foreign missionary is not our calling.
So each of us must look within ourselves to find what God has called us to do. For some, they have an ability to speak clearly and convey the truth in a manner people understand. Those should look into teaching a Sunday School class. Some have an awesome ability to cook and love doing it. They could use their gift in hospitality. Cooking for shut-ins or to help those bogged down by life.
For me, my gift has always been writing. When I saw the chalk artist complete that drawing, from a blank canvas to what you see in the photo, it amazed me. While I could never in 100 years do what he does, I'm not called to do that. It's not my God given ability to create in that fashion. Now, to put some words onto paper and to convey a message that is well received, and in some cases not well received due to a conviction of some sort, I can do that. Sign me up.
Our theme verse for this year comes from 2 Timothy. Chapter 1 verse 6. The first part of the first says, "Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God that is in you...". Seeing him use his gift stirred up my enthusiasm for my gift. We often go through a message and get fired up by it. We say a prayer and even before we pay our check at lunch after service that fire that burned has calmed. One is often amazed to remember what the sermon was about in the first place. And yes, I was like that. And with the frequency my job allows me to attend church, it was easy enough to allow that fire to remain quenched. But it was still smoldering. It never died. This is where the challenge and the book about success came into play.
We have an amazing church. God has so many gifted individuals within it. Beginning with an unashamed Pastor who speaks the word God gives him, not a sermon he wrote. I pray those with the gifts they possess have been as impacted by the messages of this year as I have been. I am ashamed that its now November and I am only beginning to 'fan that flame'. Well, for some of us, our heads are pretty thick and it takes many different confirmations in our personal life, to get through the hard outer shell, and stoke the flame before it is set ablaze. God uses people in our lives to further confirm the calling he has on it. First, he used a Vision Statement and a chalk artist. Next, He used Jeremy and his challenge. Then he used Thomas Newberry and his book to further challenge me and help me see that the time is now.
And so I move forward with the reminder from Paul. The fire is burning, and I plan to do what needs to be done to keep it from dying out again. As always, I ask for your prayers that I lean on Gods strength, not my own, to get through this. It is exciting to be on this journey, but it's more exhausting than I have anticipated. That being said, I am loving every minute of it. Thanks again for your support. God Bless!!