To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV)
I am a writer and have been facing writer’s block. I want so desperately to write something meaningful for all whom God leads to read my work, but the harder I try the worse my problem gets? What should I do?
As believers we all know that it is God who has the final say in the best way to move forward in our lives. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. (Proverbs 9:10, NLT) Thus, coming before Him and asking Him to lead you forward is the best course of action you could take, for He knows what is best. Don’t let Satan dismantle your joy because of a temporary circumstance or set back you are facing. Don’t believe his lies and fall into a pit of despair. No friend, it is time to shift your focus that is presently on you and put your focus on God Almighty.
God loves you and is right there to comfort you, guide you, and grow you. But remember, although He comes alongside you with love, He is Power in every sense of the word. It is all the more reason to be awestruck when you recognize that God, who commands the universe, who determines life and death, longs to comfort you, encourage you and speak to you! Even if what you are experiencing feels bad, it is not punishment. I am sure you know the term, “tough love.” We all need spiritual pruning from time to time to get our priorities realigned with the Lord’s plans and purposes for us.
Be wise, and know when to quit your present striving and seek the Lord. (Ref. Proverbs 23:4 NLT)
In the moment that you feel distressed, lost, confused, deeply disconnected or sad, find your way to pray. Before Him, remind yourself of His promises. Relive the times He stepped in and saved you from circumstances, others, and even yourself. Think on all He has done for you and remain confident in God, the Creator of all things. He created the sun to shine down on the earth to allow for all life and our existence. He will continue to produce new life and direction in your spirit as well as all the earth, as He sees fit.
He has a plan and knows what is best, so let Him be your guide. The only way to be assured you are honoring Him and following Him, is by surrendering your will to the Lord and asking Him to show you the way. Be open to His plan. Trust in Him. Seek His forgiveness for trying to go it alone. Jesus said, “Yes I am the vine you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them will produce much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NLT) Honor Him by acknowledging how great and vast He truly is. Then your personal unraveling, (writer’s) block, or impasse will disappear and a new hope will rise up. If you let Him, he will always lead you into victory and an abundant life filled with the fruits of the Spirit. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT) Amen
Let me know how it goes. I will be praying for you,
As Christians, our life is about our faith in Jesus Christ and how we choose to cultivate our relationship with God each day. Yet, this can be challenging, especially when Satan takes bits and pieces of our joy away because of the difficulties we face. From temporary set backs to extreme trials he tries to undermine our faith through it all. He tries to convince us of his lies – that we are being punished, or worse, that we need to keep trying to earn grace. He manipulates situations and promotes doubt about the genuine unconditional love God has for us. He wants us to focus inward on our lack and ourselves and distract us from the truth that God is in charge. In an effort to hold us back from reaching out with arms open wide to receive our Lord and Creator, like a tree with its extended branches welcoming the sun, he tries to cut us down, shift our focus, and deceive by telling us that our struggles are too big for anyone or anything to fix. Thankfully, we know better because we know who our God is!
However, there is another challenge that comes from another source entirely. I comes from the Lord Himself, when He needs to reshape us and redirect our spiritual growth and direction.
We all want to believe that what we do pleases God and we find great joy by doing things in His name. We hope it will allow for a happier life; one with less strife. However, we know we are not promised a life without challenges. Instead, we are promised that God is with us every step of the way and that He has a specific plan and purpose for our life. We acknowledge that God loves us and longs to comfort us. Out of love, He disciplines (not punishes) us, and works to grow us in ways we never thought possible. It is up to us to reject the voice of doubt and discouragement that Satan throws at us, and ask for prayer which fortifies us. We can trust in the Lord and choose to remain confident that God shines upon us, like the sun, so that we grow in His radiance. If He chooses, He will generate new life in us no matter the season. If we submit to His will, we allow God to decide: how He wants us to grow, when it is time for growth, when to store us up for periods of drought or hibernation, as well as determine the precise time to produce a glorious spiritual harvest in us. Remember, God’s word is settled in heaven and we live by the power of God (Ref. Psalms 68).
So the question remains, how can we be sure we are honoring the Lord with our daily decisions and actions? How can we be assured we are accomplishing His will for us at all times, thereby reaping the greatest spiritual harvest possible? My answer may seem simple, but I have found it profoundly true yet easily dismissed. It is the sacrifice of our time alone, our connection with God that brings forth spiritual growth, protection, and direction, our true path and purpose, and the greatest blessings. Making the sacrifice of time alone with God a priority does dramatically more for us than any action we take on our own, no matter how well intentioned it may be.
We can be prayer warriors for others, writers trying to share His grace on paper, we can be responders to the needs of the church, or serving Him by sharing His love with non-believers, etc. This is all well and good, but if the action we take isn’t God inspired, the true and distinguished path He designed for our life, we run the risk of eventually drying up or dying out and all our striving becomes wasted time, in essence, meaningless. This is when the Lord moves in to redirect our priorities and our actions by helping us realize how much we need Him above all else. Remember, He is the vine and we are the branches (ref. John 15:5) Apart from Him we can do nothing of value for His kingdom and His purposes. It is there we find ourselves in need of spiritual pruning.
I don’t know how a tree feels about being pruned, but for me personally, it never feels good being pruned, especially when I have spent a lot of time and effort, sacrificing much and thinking I am doing the right thing only to find out that I need to quit and redirect my efforts or completely start over! However, after a lifetime of experiencing significant spiritual pruning, to the point that I am not sure who I started out as, I am grateful for the dramatic cuts that promoted a new direction and a new hope that it no longer matters who I was before. I am grateful for who I am becoming; who God is forming me to be.
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
One of the greatest risk we run as Christians is to forget to value growing our own personal relationship with God above all else. We get so busy answering the needs of others that we forget our own needs. Like anything in creation, we need constant connection with the life force and its elements to ensure our growth and survival. The healthiest trees give the best shade and fruit for the harvest.
How do you respond when your faith doesn’t help you to produce good fruit? What do you do when every action you take, in His name, leads to a dead end or wears you out? What do you do when you feel like you’re in a spiritual winter and nothing is happening? Or where do you turn when you are suffering through the heat of personal conflicts or failed relationships with no relief in sight? How do you respond when there are no answers for the “whys?” and “what ifs?” that come when mourning the loss of a loved one? Do you become angry and abandon your faith? Do you isolate yourself from the world? Do you complain, panic, give up, or allow stress to consume you and sleepless nights to drain you? Or, do you get on your knees and surrender your will over to God and seek His comfort and His grace and direction?
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6 NLT)
If you can’t tell by now, I enjoy nature and relating myself to it. I especially love gardening. There is something about cultivating new life that I find incredibly rewarding. I work hard in spring and summer to give each plant every opportunity for a fruitful life. I used to believe that each of the four seasons generated a distinct response from nature, but I have noticed that life never stops pushing forward regardless of the time of year. Depending on the amount of sunshine, moisture and the plant itself, the order of seasons and plant life cycles can have their exceptions. For example, I have an arugula plant in my garden that grow underneath the snow and ice. I could make a salad of it in mid winter if I wanted to. Then, there are the bushes that form a hedge in my yard that contradict spring. Up until late June they look dried up and dead with no indication that life will ever spring forth. So much so, that I seriously considered pulling them out by their roots during our first spring in our home. Instead of bothering with the hard work of removing them, I left them alone. Late that season, nearly mid summer, buds began to form, and compacted, curled leaves pushed their way through the bark, eventually exploding onto each branch. The violet blooms were huge and gorgeous through late fall. In all, I till the soil, water the garden, and I prune the dead parts. I wait, watch over it and trust in its growth.
What I am trying to say is that I do my part while I trust God to inspire growth.
How do you prepare your spiritual self for God’s harvest in your own life? Do you accept every season of life with grace, patience and peace? Do you accept the times of growth, harvest, and prepare yourself for times for times of storing up and waiting for God to grow you once again in His timing? Are your current efforts to do good, that once flourished, now dying off and you don’t know what more to do to change that? Fear not, but trust in Him, for God has the final say in which of your branches will produce a healthy harvest and which ones need to be pruned or removed all together. Your role is to trust in God, the Master Gardener of your life, and listen to His voice for direction and His voice only!
Regardless of season, if you are going through pruning, please recognize it for what it is. It isn’t punishment or the enemy allowing for it. God has the final say and it is He who allows it. It is redirection of growth as your Creator sees fit. It is what is best for you to ultimately grow and flourish where He has planted you. Believe it is done in sincere love for you and in your best interest. Trust Him for the outcome.
It is time to pray, just you alone with God. Find your place and space of quiet, calm, peace. With arms folded, or stretched out, or whatever works best for you. Welcome God’s glorious life giving presence upon you. Speak from your heart, tell Him how grateful you are that He is your God. Praise him, and cry out your troubles. This is your time to realign your spirit with God’s. When silence prevails, and peace is restored, listen to what He has to say to you. It may come like a whisper, but the message will be loud and clear, for God wants you on the best path possible for your life. Act in great hope on that message, even if that means to stop everything and rest. Act as God directs and you will see that your harvest will be more plentiful than you can possibly imagine.
That is how it works best for me and countless others. Try it. If you do, let me know how it works for you. And, please know that I am praying for you.
In Him, I pray! Amen