I spent the weekend with a group of Christian women writers at a retreat in Chicago, IL. At the beginning of the retreat on Friday morning, we were asked to set our intentions for the weekend by identifying the specific thing(s) that we expected to receive from our time together or what words we hoped to hear from God. I simply set my intentions to listen. I looked forward to a weekend of being in one location with limited noise, no responsibly, and pulling away from the distractions of the internet and social media. I also looked forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. I wanted to see the faces of these women and hear their stories…what was God speaking to their hearts? What was their spiritual condition? What did they need? What did they expect from our writing community?
“Fearlessly expanding the feminine voice in our churches, communities
and culture.” Redbud Writers
I have received several contacts lately from Christian women who are trying to figure out their calling and determine if writing to the glory of God is a ministerial effort they should pursue. I don’t have the answers to all of that, but I do know that we can get distracted along the way with everyone else telling us what we should be doing if we are not clear about what God wants us to do right now. So the sooner we can discern all of that—and hold the revelation loosely so that God can continually shape and mold as He chooses—the better.
Personally, my writing ministry was unexpected. It was not something I actively pursued. Sure, I started writing purposefully as an English major in undergrad, but did not intentionally write for several years afterward. Then one day, I started writing again. I shared with a few writer friends that I might be interested in cultivating my writing skills for the purpose of ministry. I started blogging in 2010, for the dual purpose of challenging and encouraging women through the Word of God, and disciplining myself concerning the frequency of writing. I was encouraged and nurtured through connections and a community of writers—first, the Synergy Women’s Network @SynergyWN and secondly, the Redbud Writer’s Guild @redbudwriters. The rest, as you can say, “Is (shaping) history.”
Last week I barely slept at all. The tossing and turning began on Tuesday night. I went to bed at a decent hour but my mind was not at ease. On some level, I knew I was taking burdens to bed. The thing is: these weren’t even my burdens. They were burdens of friends, family members, and church sisters and brothers who confided in me. Sometimes I pray the words of Bob Pierce, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God” and sometimes I pray the words of Rom. 12: 15 so I might rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. There was a lot of mourning going on. I had been praying throughout the day, but did not pray before going to bed.
I’m starting to think this “pray without ceasing” thing is a literal need and responsibility. Praying keeps me humble. It reminds me that God is God and I am not. Most importantly, prayer allows me to take my burdens to the Lord and LEAVE them there. I was so tired that I spent the whole night trying to force myself back to sleep when I should have gotten up to pray. Better to lose one night’s rest than to lose the entire week’s worth.
There was another reason for my uneasiness. I had a message that needed to get out. I’ll be giving the message at our Women’s Mentoring Dinner in May. God had been speaking to me over the past few months on the topic of the message: love, but the words started to flow into me in the wee hours of the morning. Seriously, God? I don’t know why God gives me words in the most awkward situations, as he frequently does when I’m in the shower. Continue reading “Tossing and Turning All Night”