Thoughts on Calling - Two

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"?


Gina Holmes said...

Wow, awesome post, Mike. About calling: For me, it's just one of the few things in life I've been good at. I could always whip out an A essay in about five minutes and realized that was not the norm.

Then when I gave it a go & God opened doors. Not quick enough for me of course. Every time I got discouraged and wanted to quit, God sent encouragement or another open door. He's made it abundantly clear, this is the path for me.

Talents come from Him. And you Mike ooze talent. It's going to be fun to watch your rise!

Sandy Cathcart said...

Goodness! I really needed this word. I am sooooo easily distracted. In fact, as soon as I post this, I'm off . . . to write!

I can pinpoint a specific day, hour and place when the Lord called me to write, but the truth is I had been writing for ten years before that. I suspect He gave me the call because for those entire ten years all I had received were rejections. Enough already! I needed the call in order to keep moving forward.

But He wouldn't let me quit, and I'm so very glad He didn't. I have published hundreds of articles since then, so those ten years of rejections were worth it.

Now, I'm entering the book industry and facing similar challenges. Thanks for the reminder to not be distracted. Awesome!

Ame said...

"Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, 'I will not mention Him or speak any more in His Name,' HIS WORD IS IN MY HEART LIKE A FIRE, A FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES. I AM WEARY OF HOLDING IT IN; INDEED, I CANNOT." Jeremiah 20:9

When we are so close to God we hear His voice on the wind, our heart is moved by the brush of a feather, our eyes are drawn to see what God sees, then what He calls us to do at that season is like a fire shut up in our bones.

Often I have thought, "I just can't do that anymore!" because of whatever obstacles are thrown at me. But when it's from God and my intimacy with Him is real and continuous and consistant, then I can't help it; I have to do it. It truly is like a fire shut up inside me that must get out. It is, of course, the Holy Spirit taking control of my life as I've let Him and bursting from this vessel of humanity.

Sandy Cathcart said...

Hooray! I took your advice and didn't let myself be distracted, and I wrote another chapter! It was pulling word after word out, but I think it's good. At least it's done. That means a lot.

Now, I get to paint for a couple of hours and then head out into the woods for my evening walk with The Cat Man.

It's great being a writer on days like this!

Mike Duran said...

Hey, thanks for pitchin' in, ladies. Glad you found some inspiration in my doodling. Ame, the Jeremiah quote is terrific! There's a lot of truth in the fact that, if God lights a fire, it's very hard to extinguish. Spurgeon suggested that an unquenchable, insatiable passion is the first evidence of calling. If the fire can't be put out, then it must be stoked and left to burn...

Elaina Avalos said...

Thanks for this post Mike. It was needed today. I know I'm called to write. I know it like I know I'm right-handed. I know it because when I seek the Lord about certain things, the answer has remained the same, consistently for nearly six years, "Write." That's it. One word. Write.

The enemy consistently tries to get me to come down from the wall. I've finally reached the point this last week, that I'm willing to do whatever it takes to do this. Not coming down this time. It's worked before. But in God's graciousness, He's still giving me more shots at it.

I had someone pray with me at church yesterday morning after a heart wrenching week. I don't know her. But she prayed for me. And she said, out of nowhere (of course, I knew exactly where it came from), "You know what He's called you to do. You know the gifts that He's given you. Why do you not use them they way He's asked you to? If you step out in faith, you will be blessed by your obedience."

I think it's a good idea for me to obey! Thanks again for the reminder from Nehemiah.

Ame said...

"inspiration in my doodling."

DOODLING? Mike!!!!!!! You've got to let God increase your confidence in the gift HE GAVE YOU!!!!! You're WRITING is excellent!!!!! (btw - i mentioned you over on my blog today!)

Gina Holmes said...

Ame, thanks for that scripture.

Kelly Klepfer said...

Glad to see you've crossed over into choleric. That melancholy moment had us all ruffled.

Preach it bro.

Kelly Klepfer said...

Glad to see you've crossed over into choleric. That melancholy moment had us all ruffled.

Preach it bro.

clew said...

Hi Mike - I'm visiting on AME's mention of you. This is a fantastic post.

A good indication that you're on the right track to glorifying God with your calling is all of the distractions and obstacles you will encounter - you've got that right!

I'll be back again :) <)))><

siouxsiepoet said...

i can't not write. is that a calling? i don't know. it is not for me to decide. but i have come to see it in terms of stewarding a gift. for i truly believe it a gift (some say curse, but i say gift). i am determined to get the words i need to get on paper down. but as far as the hoop jumping for publication, the trained pony bit, that isn't part of calling, i'm glad you mention it. i do often feel as though i am crafting something. not sure what. but it isn't for me to try to sell it now. just to get it down. let the rest go.

have i answered your question? who knows, but you do make an excellent point.

Mike Duran said...

Thanks for the comments Elaina, Kelly, Clew and suz. The only treatment for my "melancholy moments" is a good squeeze. Like a ripe pimple, I need to sit down at the keyboard and burst that bugger. But instead of ooze, you get depressing posts. Stay up on the wall, dear friends. I repeat, stay up on the wall!