Do you know someone who always knows the right thing to say at the right time? Maybe you know someone who always manages to say the wrong thing. Words matter. Whether we speak them out or write them down. Even when we say nothing, that speaks volumes too. Many people will use words to motivate and inspire. Others use them to crush opposing views or attack a person.
In Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) it says,
‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.’
There is wisdom in using our words to encourage and build others up, not tear them down. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). We can still speak truthfully for the good of others, and at times, this might make someone or a group of people to feel uncomfortable or angry/sad. We need wisdom in how we handle such situations. Jesus called out the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the day for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23). He would welcome sinners, but would not shy away from telling them to believe in Him and turn from their sin (e.g. John 8:3-11). Jesus also knew when to speak and when to remain silent (Matthew 26:62-64). We need to trust in Jesus to help us so that we can speak or write words because words matter. This is a lesson I am learning at the moment.
Waiting, not writing
It’s been a time of waiting in my writing. I have been writing a couple of articles every month here and there, but my blog has remained silent. I have spent time in prayer, asking the Lord ‘where next?’ for these words of mine. The words haven’t come. I have spent much time in prayer waiting to know what God wants me to say and to focus on in my writing. Words matter and I want my words to glorify Him.
I have wondered whether I should approach writing as a business, throwing all of my energy into making it into ‘something’ to help financially whilst doing what I love. I have tried different types of writing to try and diversify my skills. I have wrestled with social media as I debate how best to use it going forward. I have fought feelings of wanting to be recognised for my writing, rather than watch another writer sign a book contract or run a successful blog. My pride and envy at times have been grotesque, and boy, I need God’s grace and help on the daily. The waiting, not the writing, has been a time of pruning and I am thankful for that.
Trusting, not doubting
There are times when I think ‘is this what I am supposed to be doing?’ I question the decade I have spent writing words to point others to Jesus, measuring it using worldly wisdom (stats, shares, follows, recognition, amount published etc). Does it really matter? How can I compete with every other Christian writer out there? Truth is, I really don’t want to compete and I’m sure they’re not thinking too much about me! What I really want to do is encourage, uplift and continually point others to knowing Christ and for them to desire to know Him more and grow in their faith. I want to surrender the feelings of inadequacy, envy, pride and whatever else creeps its way into this world of words, knowing that Jesus is working in and through it all – yes, even in my weaknesses.
I started blogging in physical weakness with chemotherapy swirling through my body, an unrecognisable reflection as my shaved head looked back at me, the tiredness and sickness always near. It was Jesus who grabbed a hold of my hand and helped me to type and to trust at a time when all I had was a refuge in His love. It’s for Jesus that I write.
I have come right back to where I started, knowing with confidence and joy that it is for Jesus that I write. It’s a ministry. It’s a calling. I can trust Jesus with my words because He is the Word (John 1:1-3). He is the Author of life who speaks things into being and He is the Living God who speaks today. By His Spirit He speaks through the words of Scripture, opening eyes and softening hearts to His love and grace.
Growing, not wilting
Pruning is part of having a healthy garden. It is also part of the Christian life. When we remain in Him, we can be sure that there will be times of pruning in our lives, but we can look forward to the growth of something even more beautiful that comes from it. In John 15:1-5 (NIV) Jesus says,
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’
Our God is the gardener of life. No two lives look the same, no two gardens look the same. One could be neat and pleasing, whilst another may resemble an overgrown wildlife garden. Yet, God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He can bring forth a haven and beauty out of two very different lives for two very different purposes.
I have felt withered in the waiting and hungering to write words that would not come. Maybe you are going through a season where it feels like you are wilting. I pray that you will be refreshed through reading His Word which is living water to dried up roots. Spend time in His presence through prayer as He tenderly looks after you. The pruning can be painful, but you can be sure that fruit will abound in your life that can build up and bless others when you remain in Jesus. Let Him measure the success. Be faithful in the waiting, in the words written and spoken, and in walking and abiding with Him.