I am pleased and delighted to have as my guest today, Jennifer Slattery. Jennifer is a very busy wife, mom and writer. Be sure to check out her blog – the link is at the end of her devotion. Enjoy, be blessed and have a wonderful weekend!
Blessed to be a Blessing
As a Gen Yer raised in the fight-or-flight era, I’ve heard the words, “pursue your dream!” so many times it runs through my brain on auto-pilot. The only problem is when I ride the American Dream bandwagon, it’s easy to let the dream overshadows the Dream-giver. I often get so caught up in the things of God that I’m tempted to forget God all together. It’s like I’ve caught His vision, but in my pursuit, have left Him dust, asking Him to bless me after the fact.
Only problem, without God, those great accomplishments and ministry endeavors are nothing more things.
Let me illustrate. When you think of Abraham, what comes to mind first? We often hear about how God blessed him and made his offspring into a mighty nation, right? Or what about Joseph? God gave Joseph a dream of grandeur, a dream that was ultimately fulfilled some thirteen (or so) years later. When we retell the story, what do we focus on? The dream, right? How God gave it to Joseph and everyone else wanted to slam on it, but God exalted Joseph anyway.
Only it wasn’t about Joseph, and it wasn’t about Abraham. God raised up Abraham for a purpose–not to bless Abraham, but instead, to bless all the nations through him. Abraham was the father of the Jewish race, and the Jews were the nation God used to reveal Himself to all mankind (and to bring about salvation through Jesus Christ.) When God blessed Abraham, in reality He was blessing us.
Same with Joseph. When we first meet Joseph in Genesis 37, it appears he’s consumed with the dream and how he’s going to rule over his brothers.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
After a few hard knocks and some rather painful humbling, he comes to realize it was never about him. It was about how God wanted to save many, including his brothers.
Notice the difference in tone, and who Joseph points to, in this passage:
5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
So, although God used one man, named Joseph, to bring about His plan, all the while He was thinking about the masses. Because that’s how God works. (I can’t help but wonder how his brothers felt, once they’d reached the end of the story and realized that God had their well-being in mind the entire time. Ah, if only we could see the bigger picture!)
So how does this related to writing? (Or any other “dream” God has given you.) God doesn’t give us gifts for our own benefit. Nor are they ever intended to bring glory to ourselves. He gives us gifts so that His purpose can be fulfilled. He blesses us so that we will be a blessing. But when our eyes are on ourselves, we get in the way.
The first step, it seems, is to let it go. Hand your gift, whatever it is, over to God, to be used as He sees fit. Whether that means writing a best-selling novel or spending hours crafting a Vacation Bible School lesson for your small, unknown church. It’s His gift, remember? You’re just the vessel.
As I continually work towards intentionally living, I’m going to ask God, daily, to empty me of self, fill me with Him and help me to catch a glimpse of the bigger, eternal picture. I’m going to actively and personally pray Romans 12:1-2
“Dear Lord, do not allow me to conform to the things of this world, but transform me by renewing my mind. Help me to see and understand Your good, pleasing will. Help me to offer my body, my time, my gifts and my mind, to You as a perfect, pleasing sacrifice. This will be my act of worship.”
The world says forge ahead. God says wait on Me and allow Me to live through you, as I want, when I want, because I see the bigger picture, and I’ve written the ending.
Today I’m asking God to show me areas or times when I’ve been tempted to seek my own glory instead of acting in humbled obedience. I’m asking Him to help me lay yourself, my gifts, my dreams, my time…whatever, on the alter so I can be a cleansed and open vessel ready to do His will. Most importantly, I’m asking Him to enable me to catch a glimpse of His bigger, eternal picture. Because when my time on earth is done and I stand before the throne of God, I will be held accountable not for what I accomplished, but how well I obeyed.
Jennifer Slattery is a freelance writer and publicist living in the midwest with her husband of sixteen years and their fourteen year old daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, Afictionado, and Samie Sisters and the the marketing manager for the literary website, Clash of the Titles. She’s also a co-host of a modern day, meet at the well, Facebook community called Living by Grace. When she’s not writing, helping other authors polish their manuscripts or increase their platform, you’ll probably find traipsing through her neighborhood hand-in-hand with her forever true love, nibbling on a hot soft pretzel, or nose-deep in a great novel. Visit her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud (http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com) to find out more about her and her writing. Visit her business blog, Words that Keep (http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com) to learn how she can help you take your novel from good to great.