Marlene Bagnull is an author who directs the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference. (I’ll be speaking at the Philly conference and would highly recommend the conference August 1-4). Today’s post is for both writers and readers.
Have you ever been ready to give up? Have you tried everything you know but feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall? What do you do when the accuser tells you that your best isn’t good enoughthat it never has been and never will be?
That was my experience with my first book that some of you know was rejected by 42 publishers over a six year period. If I had given up (and believe me, there were many times I wanted to), it and the six books that followed would never have been published.
Yes, there have been many times when I’ve doubted and when, as my writing mentor Lee Roddy said years ago, I’ve “listened to the wrong voices.” For the past five months it’s been the voice of the accuser telling me that my best isn’t good enough. The tapes from my childhood have started to play again. “You’re not smart enough. No matter how hard you try, you’re going to fail.”
Many days I’ve sat in my office and wept. Frustrated and discouraged I’ve told the Lord, “I can’t.” And I know that’s true. But what can I do, can you do, when He doesn’t seem to be listening? Has He abandoned us? Or is He using the problem(s) we’re facing to strengthen our faith muscles so that when the stakes are even bigger we won’t get discouraged and give up?
I’m learning that there are lots of lessons that I need to relearn!
1. Keep your eyes on the Lord, on how far you’ve come, and on the prize.
It’s easy to allow problems and challenges to consume us and to blind us to the Lord’s presence, to how far we’ve come, and to the prize. “I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us” (Philippians 3:14 TLB). Paul wrote from prison in Rome. He had reason to be greatly frustrated and discouraged by the loss of his freedom. He could have questioned the Lord and concluded that his ministry was over. Instead he focused on the needs of the churches and wrote letters that continue to encourage Christ-followers almost 2,000 years later.
2. Cut the tapes from your past.
Although Paul never forgot the person he was before he encountered the Lord on the Damascus Road, he did not wallow in the past or dwell on what others thought or said about him. Instead he embraced the truth of Zephaniah 3:17: “He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you with great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Paul was able to preach and write about the message of salvation because he had experienced firsthand God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.
3. Don’t grieve the Lord by your lack of faith.
Although sometimes it does seem that He’s not listening, we need to trust that He will equip us with all we need for doing his will (see Hebrews 13:20). It’s not easy to wait on the Lord and to have Hebrews 11:1 faith in what we can’t yet see, but “God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn; he will never go back on his promises” (Romans 11:29).
4. Do your best and trust God for the rest.
The fear of failure can paralyze us if we let it, and that’s exactly what our adversary wants. I grieve for the books that have not been published and the ministries that have been abandoned because of the evil one’s accusations that our best will never be good enough.
Sitting beside me are the “pictures” my almost four-year-old granddaughter drew in Sunday school this morning. I have absolutely no idea what she drew, and she can’t tell me because she has apraxia and is unable to speak more than a few words. But, of course, I told her that her pictures are beautiful. She did her best and that’s all that matters. And that’s all the Lord expects. When we give our best to Him, He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV).
Father, help us to believe You and not the accuser. Thank You for loving us and for being bigger than our perceived failures. Thank You for encouraging us not to give up. We will keep on expecting you to help us. We will praise you more and more. We will walk in the strength of the Lord our God (Psalm 71:14, 16 TLB).
For more hope, visit writehisanswer.com