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Category Archives: Authors

Ignoring Sensibility to Chase the (Impractical) Dream

I quit job searching today.

Before you ask, the answer is no, I did not get hired today. I should have gotten a call if my most recent application was accepted. But there was no call. And I’m done applying.

You might wonder what this means. Why does one stop applying for jobs before one is hired for decent work? To be honest, I feel a little crazy myself. It doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t sound practical. But it’s the plan at least for until I move in a few months. When I resettle, I will reevaluate.

Last night, I realized that I’ve tried to do at least 97 different things with all of my “free time.” It’s left me unfocused and exhausted, and I knew something had to change. I then asked myself what it is that I’m most passionate about pursuing in this awkward, transitional season of my life. Immediately, my newest book project came to mind. Huh, I thought. Why am I not focusing on that first?

The answer came easily: I’m afraid. I’ve dreamed about being a full-time author since I was a child, but growing up all but strangled that dream. My dad once told me I’d better get used to eating ramen noodles if that’s the career I wanted. To fully pursue freelance writing would mean taking huge risks. What if I run out of money while working on the book? What if a publisher never takes interest? What if I can never finish the book? Perhaps worse, what if the book is published but fails? What if no one but my mother reads it and all that time and effort was wasted for nothing? I’d just be one more unnoticed wanna-be living with her parents because she was too impractical to get a “real job.”

All those lurking fears had convinced me that I didn’t actually want to write full-time. They lied to me. And I believed them. “It’s just a pipe dream. You could never really do it, so what’s the point trying?” they said. “Try, and you’ll only fail.” So I let fear paralyze me.

But I’m tired of being afraid.

What would it look like if I redirected my energy primarily into the new book? I mean really dedicate myself to it, excluding lesser priorities? First of all, I’d have to reclaim time from any distractions. Such as the many hours spent every week in job searching, writing cover letters, fine-tuning my résumé, and submitting applications. Wasted hours. What have they given me but disappointed hopes for jobs I wasn’t excited about in the first place? If I want to be an author, it’s about time I act on it and stop looking for other opportunities. If I don’t, I may never know if it is possible.

It’s a step of faithBy continuing to job search, I’m only looking for security. I know my passion, but I’ve doubted God’s provision and guidance, anxiously trying to find some “reliable” income. As if God isn’t reliable enough. As if every calling from God looks sensible to the world.

If I waste my time, at least it will be wasted chasing the dream and not by scrolling through job listings. If it doesn’t work and the book fails, I only prove I’m human. If it turns out this isn’t my calling, then God will use even my mistakes to teach me. He won’t abandon me because I took a wrong turn.

I’m done job searching because I have a job. I’m an author.

Update (2/25): That last application I mentioned? I got the call today. It turns out the manager was sick yesterday, which explains why I didn’t hear from her. So now I have a part-time job to support me while also leaving me enough time to continue writing. God does indeed move in his own timing and have a sense of humor.

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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Authors, Other thoughts

 

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Spurgeon and Reading Context

Spurgeon near the end of his life.

Spurgeon near the end of his life. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lately, I’ve been doing some reading of Charles Spurgeon. Actually, I’m currently spending most of every day working at Olive Tree Bible Software on a long-term project that requires reading a devotional by Spurgeon. Once I finish the devotional, I will then proceed to read his other books and sermons. This may take a while.

For those who don’t know, because I certainly didn’t, Spurgeon was a preacher from nineteenth-century England, whose printed works and collected sermons are expansive to say the least. He started preaching in a church at just 20 years old and grew so popular that he later spoke to congregations of thousands at a time. becoming known as the “Prince of Preachers.”

Perhaps his vast popularity had to do with his talent for creating perfectly suited metaphors and allegories to explain or emphasize his points. His writing is understandably powerful and moving if you can get past the archaic language of “thee”s and “thou”s.

English: From Spurgeon's Sermons Fifth Series;...

Spurgeon preaching at Surrey Music Hall, Kennington, 1858. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even more impressive than his eloquent writing is his pure ability to take any verse of the Bible and connect it to the central themes of Christ, the Gospel, and our salvation.On October 6 in the devotional, for instance, Spurgeon writes on Numbers 12:1, where it says, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.” Most people would take this verse at face value and simply understand that Moses’ sister and brother-in-law had issues accepting their sister-in-law. But Spurgeon goes further. He uses this verse as a parable of how, greater than Moses irrationally marrying a woman outside of his own people and disapproved by his family, the Lord chooses to love us, even us undeserving and worthless people. Spurgeon explains:

“Knowing as we do our secret guiltiness, unfaithfulness, and black-heartedness, we are dissolved in grateful admiration of the matchless freeness and sovereignty of grace. Jesus must have found the cause of His love in His own heart, He could not have found it in us, for it is not there.”

He seems to have a special affinity in the devotional for taking passages from Song of Solomon. He always sees the betrothed, bride, or wife as we individual Christians and the Church; meanwhile, her lover or husband represents Christ. This is one interpretation of Song of Solomon’s deeper symbolism, however, other interpretations read the book as merely a collection of poetry about either one couple through their relationship’s stages or else reflections from several different couples in love. Whatever the original intent of the book or its ultimate meaning, Spurgeon shows how even the passionate refrains of the longing bride may be applied to our own relationships with God.

Spurgeon’s interpretations can be much more problematic and debatable, though, when he bases an argument on a verse obviously out of context. On October 19, he addresses 1 Corinthians 3:1, which reads, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit, but as people who are still worldly–mere infants in Christ.” As you continue to read the passage, it is clear that being an infant in Christ means to still remain worldly, jealous and arguing with other Christians. Paul does not speak kindly of baby Christians, but Spurgeon hangs onto that phrase, “babes in Christ,” and encourages those weak in faith to “cheer up” because they are equal in grace to “full-grown” Christians. He says if he were poor in faith, he should still “rejoice in the Lord and glory in the God of my salvation.”

Now, I agree that young Christians are as justified as any other child of God, but this was not Paul’s point. This particular verse is the introduction to a scolding of such infants. Instead of merely rejoicing that they are saved, they should continue to grow in faith and leave behind their worldly baby binkies. But I cannot criticize Spurgeon too much, because the truth is I often do the same. I want to make a point, or perhaps find the perfect verse describing my mood to post on my Facebook wall, so I look up something that sounds good and ignore the surrounding context.

Admit it; you do the same. And if you happen to read the whole passage of your chosen verse, you feel disappointed when you realize you can’t fit that verse into your box. It doesn’t actually mean what you first thought. It doesn’t prove your argument for or against predestination. It doesn’t say anything like your feelings towards your opponents or enemies. In fact, it might mean just the opposite of what you want it to confirm.

It’s no wonder that, in a lifetime career of preaching, Charles Spurgeon would succumb to this temptation of taking verses out of context. It makes your arguments so much simpler when you can make the Scriptures back up any side you choose. Except they never do. They refuse. I imagine God must feel indignant when we try to make his Word our own. The real challenge is found in reading the Scriptures as he gave them to us, as a whole, and devoting yourself to discovering what God really wants you to know, not what you would rather he say.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Authors, Other thoughts

 

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