Think of the last time you made air travel arrangements. You probably researched airlines, flight schedules, and fares. You also carefully packed your luggage and toiletries with all the new security requirements in mind.
Despite your preparations, however, the trip may not have gone as planned. Late flight segments, missed connecting flights, gate changes, and perhaps even plane changes occurred whether you planned for them or not.
Our writing can be like that, can’t it? We hear God’s call, we plan and prepare, and we enthusiastically launch out with what we think is God’s direction.
Despite our plans, events take on a life of their own. People leave, finances become tight, a serious health issue might derail us, and others may attack our writing or misinterpret our motives. We trust God to make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:6), yet sometimes we feel more like living proof of the line from Robert Burns’s poem, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
How can we be sure we didn’t misunderstand God’s call? After all, didn’t God promise in Psalm 32:8 He would instruct us and teach us the way we should go, and He would counsel us and watch over us?
It may just be a matter of going back to basics, checking what we’re doing against the truth that God’s work is to be done in God’s way and in God’s time.
First, are we sure we’re doing God’s work and not our own? God’s work is not limited to fulltime ministry. God’s work is whatever work He has created us to do. There are many good things we could do that would honor God, but are we doing the thing God has specifically called us to (Ephesians 2:10)? When we do, God is not only honored, He receives all the glory as well. Psalm 115:1 reminds us, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”
Do we promote ourselves or God? Can we say, with Jesus, “I am not seeking glory for myself” (John 8:50)?
Second, are we doing God’s work in God’s way? In Acts 16:16-18, a slave with a fortune-telling spirit followed the apostle Paul and his team, calling out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? It was certainly the truth.
But Paul was annoyed, and commanded the spirit to leave her. Proclaiming the way of salvation was definitely God’s work, but it was not being done in God’s way.
What about you and me? Are we cutting corners or using resources that do not honor God, even as we’re doing the work He has called us to do
Finally, God’s work, done in God’s way, is to be done in God’s time. In Exodus 2:11-25, Moses ran ahead of God’s timetable in his attempt to deliver the Israelites from bondage. He acted rashly in committing murder and then spent an additional forty years in God’s desert training program. Moses needed to learn God never allows His plans to be rushed.
Are we failing to follow God’s timetable in our own tasks or are we running ahead of Him? Psalm 37:23 tells us, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm.” One paraphrase puts it this way, “the Lord orders our starts and our stops.” Are we listening when God tells us to start or when He hits the Pause button?
Let’s submit to the Lord’s guidance and direction in all areas of our life, including our writing. Ask Him to show where our motives might be tainted with a desire for self-glory. Seek the Holy Spirit’s confirmation to identify the work He has chosen for us as opposed to the work we think we should do. Ask Him how to serve in ways that will honor Him and how to be content with His timing. Then commit to serving Him unreservedly and to trust Him for the results.
When we do God’s work in God’s way and in God’s time, He provides results beyond our wildest imagination!