…my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:58 (The Message)
Why am I doing this? What difference does it make? Does God really want me to continue this endeavor?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? I know I have, plenty of times, especially as it pertains to my writing. A few weeks ago I was struggling with why God continues to call me to this task. As I met with a couple of writer friends, Ellen and Beth, I shared my frustration.
“I don’t know why God compels me to keep writing,” I whined. “Why did He allow my story to be published in Guideposts magazine if He still won’t give me a true focus? Besides, my story doesn’t even have any spiritual application. It’s just a silly story about how I met my husband, John. What’s the point?”
Ellen and Beth tried to encourage me.
“It doesn’t have to have an outright spiritual lesson for it to benefit someone.” Ellen said.
Beth nodded her head in agreement.
I still wasn’t convinced.
Later that afternoon I met with two other ladies from our writers group to finalize plans for our workshop that Saturday. During the course of the meeting our chaplain asked if I’d do a devotion during the workshop. I agreed, but wasn’t at all sure if I’d have anything inspiring to share.
The following morning I started panicking a bit about what I’d say. As I drove to an appointment, I prayed God would give me something to encourage the workshop attendees. After all, I was on empty. How could I encourage other writers when I was so discouraged? A few thoughts came to mind that pertained to my Guideposts article. Even though they weren’t earth-shattering, I thought it would probably be enough.
Later that afternoon when I returned home, I was flipping through the mail and noticed an unusual envelope addressed with beautiful handwriting. I turned it over and saw a stamp that read:
THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS HAS NOT CENSORED THIS ITEM; THEREFORE THE DEPARTMENT DOES NOT ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR ITS CONTENTS.
I hesitated, thinking there might be a possibility of anthrax in the envelope. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to open it anyway.
As I looked again at the sender’s name, it had a ring of familiarity to it. Carefully tearing open the envelope, I pulled out a three page, neatly written letter from a prison inmate. He introduced himself as a member of my former church, having joined after he was incarcerated. I’d never met him, but do remember our pastor mentioning him several times over the years.
As I read on, he explained the motivation behind sending his letter. Below is an excerpt:
“My reason for writing is to thank you for the wonderful story you wrote about how you and John met and began dating…. My favorite sentence from your amazing story is just three words – “John was undaunted”. It’s hard to believe that such a short sentence can be so powerful. He had asked you out on a date twice and been denied. He could have easily given up and moved on with his life. I’m sure there were plenty of other girls he could have asked out. He didn’t give up on trying to date you. I’m glad he didn’t. This isn’t just a love story, it’s a story about faith, patience, and perseverance! I was deeply touched by your story, and I just wanted to thank you for sharing it.”
The letter went on to say that he’d been incarcerated for 22 years and was coming up for parole in January or February 2015. The only thing he requested of me is that I pray for him. I realized the reason those three words resonated in his spirit was because he wanted to have the same attitude as he approached his parole hearing. I believe this story inspired him to be undaunted by his slim chance of parole—to have faith.
Tears pooled around my eyes as I continued reading. This wasn’t just a letter from an inmate; it was a letter from God, assuring me I was on the right path. My “silly” little story about how I met my husband had a spiritual depth to it I’d never imagined.
I excitedly shared this story with the group of writers attending the workshop the following Saturday. The encouragement they received from the devotion was palpable. God is so good to give us what we need when we are working on His behalf.
If you’re discouraged in whatever God has called you to do, don’t give up. Stand firm and ask Him to give you the reassurance you need to continue on in His work. He is faithful to answer your prayer. After all, nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort.
Have you been struggling with discouragement in your calling? Please let me know how I can pray for you.