So many starts and so few finishes.
I’ve been trying to write this blog for three weeks. Several different ideas crossed my mind…a deep thought here, an alleged good topic there…but every time I sat down and started typing I’d stall out and backspace more words than I can count. I have multiple blogs started that pootered out after just a paragraph or so. I even fell asleep a time or two (or twenty) while writing. And now here I am. Totally frustrated.
On the surface it seems like standard writer’s block but I know it’s more. More than just one thing. It’s a bit of numbness as our family is still processing the recent sudden loss of our nephew. It’s a bit of weariness from trying to hold it together in front of my kids when they tell me they miss their dad, who has had an unusual amount of work trips this month. (And I admit it…I don’t sleep super well when he’s gone, so it’s a multi-level weariness. Apparently I’m one of “those” women who actually like having their husband home. Thankfully his trips should slow down soon. Yay!) Some of it is a lack of self-confidence, not believing anyone really wants to hear/read what I have to say anyways. There might be a little bit of cautious reservation too, since I really want to talk about recent events like that gender march but right now I have nothing nice to say about it, so like my momma (a REAL woman) taught me, I’m not gonna say anything at all…so maybe it’s not cautious reservation at all but cautious wisdom, lol. Throw in my perfectionist tendencies that tell me not to even try if it’s/I’m not the best, and…VOILA!…you get a whole bunch of nothingness. Gummy, gommy nothingness.
All of us face a whole bunch of nothingness at different times in our lives. Those seasons when you’re not seeing the fruit you hoped would grow or the harvest of the seeds you have planted. Maybe you’ve stepped out in faith onto the rolling waves of your dreams and feel yourself starting to sink. Or maybe you’re overwhelmed just trying to survive work and bills and kids and school and illness and you wonder when you’re even going to get the time to think about putting your leg over the edge of the boat, let alone the energy to actually step out.
Even the Apostle Paul faced his share of nothingness. He was literally bound up in chains in prison when he penned:
“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV).
Paul had spent years traveling and evangelizing the Mediterranean area, pouring his life into people in order that they would hear the good news of grace and have their lives transformed just as his had been. The very call he had answered to preach Jesus and Him crucified seemingly resulted in bondage. He no longer had the physical freedom to go wherever the Spirit led. All he could do was write letters and trust friends to deliver them to the various cities he had previously ministered in and some he’d never even got the chance to go to. Nothingness was probably pretty thick then. All the sacrifice for what? For chains? For ineffectiveness? For pain? For lack? Thankfully, if he did have to deal with those feelings and discouragements, he didn’t stay in them nor was he defined by them. In fact, a few sentences later in that same Philippian letter he wrote:
“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…”
Paul is credited with writing about half the books in the New Testament. Five of those were penned while he was imprisoned in Rome twice…Ephesians (one of my favorites in the Bible), Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and 2 Timothy. I am so glad that his seasons of nothingness were not able to silence him. While he may not have been able to physically do much while he was in prison, I’m glad he did what he could and did not give up. There’s no way to adequately describe how my life has been changed by the words in those five books and the other two written between his first & second imprisonments (1 Timothy & Titus), and I’m only one of untold billions who have read and heard God’s Word in Biblical form over the last 2000 years.
Your struggle is not a disqualification to your purpose
So today or tomorrow or next week or next month, when it seems like the rushing flow of life has congealed like cold gravy around you and things don’t seem to be what you would like them to be, let me encourage you. Just do what you can do. Your struggle is not a disqualification to your purpose…it is a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness in your journey. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. If you can take a step forward, great! Do it. Celebrate progress, even if it’s minuscule. If you can only write an encouraging letter (or a blog or a text or a social media post) when you feel you’re called to do so much more, then do it (even if it takes you 3 weeks and countless attempts, lol)! And if all you can do is stand, then God gives you permission to do just that (look it up in Ephesians 6:13-14). Just don’t give up, even in the mediocre middle of nothingness.
No matter how small the beginnings may start, how mediocre the middle may be or how premature the ending may seem, God’s pretty awesome at the unexpected encore. When God writes the ending, the crucified Savior rises from death and brings humanity with Him. The smuggled letters of a persecuted prisoner become part of the Holy Canon and still shape people’s lives thousands of years later. Five loaves of bread and two fish feed thousands of people and still somehow fill up 12 baskets after everyone is full. Your life will be no different. The good work He’s started in you will continue until His purpose for your life is complete in Christ! HE finishes what He starts!
Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NKJV