Ernest Hemingway said:
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
Now we’ve graduated to Word Processors, but still the pouring out of self onto paper burns painful at times.
But not when you hoard it or hide it away in safe shadows. I can sit here typing away sentiments, thoughts, emotions crammed into words, hit the save button and tuck it away just for me. There’s no danger in that.
It’s in the sharing with others that you open your heart all up, vulnerable and unprotected.
So, I sat at that computer screen and had to breathe in and out a few times before opening the attached file. It seems forever ago that I sent my editor the complete manuscript for my book, one file attached to an email that read: Heather King-Ask Me Anything Lord.
And now here she had sent it back, this time marked as edited.
Sometimes in a wave of anxiety I think, “Oh, it would be so much easier to just end the exposure and hide myself away again.” No more writing and hoping others like it, hoping no one criticizes or critiques. No more posting to a blog or sending in articles to magazines or submitting manuscripts or book proposals to editors and waiting for the replies to come.
But in my heart, there is also this desire for growing and learning and for obedience, and this is my hope as I finally assume enough bravery to open up my editor’s attachment. After all, don’t I want to hear what she says? Don’t I want to mend and amend and improve all the time so every single day I’m more useful to God?
Yes. I want my offerings to God to be ever more beautiful. When He asks me to lay it down, I want to have the gift in my hands to give, not locked away.
So, I double click the attachment in one quick act of bravery and scan through the comments.
I sigh out one heaving release of a held breath.
What she says blesses me. I learn. I edit here and understand there. Really the changes aren’t so hard. And instead of working alone, surreptitiously typing away on a private document, now I have shared the work with another. We’ve united in our effort and it is better for the working together.
Sometimes, that fear of being hurt and the desire to be safe keeps us from ever raising our hand to volunteer or making the phone call with an offer to serve. Maybe instead of shining ourselves, we’re content to linger in the shadows so no one will see us in the light.
Yet, obedience means accepting the danger and willingly giving anyway. It means preparing our gifts, tending them, investing in them, honing them, learning from others so we can offer up what is a “pleasing aroma” of sacrifice to our God.
Shortly before Jesus’s betrayal and arrest, he dined at a man named Simon’s house in Bethany. A woman entered the feasting room and broke an entire jar of expensive and fragrant oil over Jesus’ head. Her prophetic gift to Christ, anointing him before his burial, was a public act of worship, not a safely private and hidden offering.
And she was criticized. The men at the table scolded her and evaluated her offering. They complained it was a waste of resources, unnecessary and without purpose. Others may have judged her, but Jesus quieted them saying:
“Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for Me….She has done what she could” (Mark 14:6, 8 HCSB).
The offerings we bring to God are never about our glory or about competing with others or meeting expectations. It’s not about numbers, not about ‘success,’ not about being the best or at the very least being better. It’s about giving what we have, the very best we can indeed give.
Jesus’ is the only opinion that mattered at that table, and yes, it should be all that matters to us.
And He is simply pleased when He can say of us like he did of the woman with the alabaster jar, “she has done what she could.”
With what He’s given you, in the way that He’s designed you, using the passions, past, personality and gifts that He’s placed within you, are you doing what you could?
Not what anyone else could do.
Just what you can do.
If that’s what matters to Him, that’s all that should matter to us. So despite the danger of exposure or the fear of critique, we offer back to Him what He has given us.
Heather King is a busy-but-blessed wife and mom, a Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King