And I sent messengers unto them, saying, 'I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?' (Nehemiah 6:3 KJV).
The Bible never talks about a "call to write," though many writers and artists would describe their pursuits in those terms. In fact, when I devoted myself to writing in spring '04, I framed the impulse in terms of a calling -- it was something God had gifted and guided me to.
Can a person pour themselves into writing -- really, into any great pursuit -- without having a sense of destiny or calling?
As you can see from my last post (and the tongue-lashing I received from the commentators), I've been re-thinking this issue. Maybe I should approach writing as a hobby, rather than a career. Maybe my motivations and intentions are misguided -- you know, I'm in it for the wrong reasons. Maybe I just don't have what it takes. Maybe... oh well, you get the idea.
Lately, I've been contemplating this section of Scripture (quoted above) from the Book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a displaced Jew serving under the King of Persia. His homeland was in ruins and he longed to see the city restored. After seeking God, Nehemiah took a step of faith, and doors were opened. He gathered support and began rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem... but he was met by opposition and distraction.
In this section of Scripture, officials are beginning to worry about Nehemiah's rebuilding efforts and sending messages to him, imploring him to stop the work and meet with them. His response? 'I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?' Or, to put it another way: 'Why should I waste my precious time on you?' Okay, so he wasn't that blunt. Nevertheless, Nehemiah felt the work God called him to far outweighed any other calling or opportunity.
The more resolved we are about our calling, the easier it is to draw lines... and the more difficult it is to get us down from the wall. Nehemiah believed he was doing "a great work" and, as a result, he was more focused, less distracted.
Do you feel God's called you to write or paint or compose? If so, you will face distractions -- just like Nehemiah. The devil will try to get you down from the wall. Of course, many demands and disruptions are not of the devil. I need to come down from the wall to go to work. I need to come down from the wall to spend time with my wife. I need to come down from the wall to go the gym. And this is a good thing. The point is, when we understand God's calling we are more discerning about what we stop working for. The less focused we are, the more quickly we leave the wall.
Are you easily distracted? You sit down, determined to get your word quota in for the day... but you gotta answer some e-mails... and check out a website... and read another blog... and get a bite to eat... and another... None of these things are bad. It's just they can whittle away at a higher calling.
Let me suggest that one of the keys to time management and spiritual focus is the conviction of our calling. Because Nehemiah believed he'd been called and chosen by God, he was more able to deflect distractions. Likewise, the less convinced we are about a "call to write," the more easily we will get frustrated, depressed and drift.
If someone is "called by God" to do anything -- preach, write, lead, counsel, pray, manage -- they will become a target. The devil will seek to draw them from their assignment. "Come down from the wall!" he'll cry. "Join me by the poolside." And the less confident we are in our calling, the more likley we are to do so...
So let me ask you, how do you know you've been "called to write"?