A great admirer of King David, I once asked the Lord to give me a heart like his…so I could be a woman after God’s own heart. I had no idea what I was asking, for you don’t achieve a heart like David’s without a Saul hot on your heels!
My writing “career” began in 2006, when I was asked to write a monthly newsletter for the women I served. One side of the page listed upcoming events, the other was a short article that I penned – not unlike what I post here. I discovered that I really enjoy writing, and others enjoyed reading what I wrote.
In November, 2009, being uncertain of whether writing was part of God’s plan for me, I jotted down a prayer on the last page of my current journal, put the book on the shelf, selected a new one, and left for a visit with my oldest son and his family in Oahu. I said nothing to anyone about my question – didn’t want to manipulate the answer in any way.
Four days later, my husband, Wendel, called from home and said, “Hey, they have laptops on sale at the department store. Do you want one?”
I started to say, “No, that’s okay,” then realized that this was the answer to my prayer and said, “Yes! I’d love to have a laptop.”
When I returned home, I pulled out my journal and showed him what I’d written:
“Father, if it is Your desire that I write, would You give me a laptop? If You say ‘no,’ I’ll be fine with that.”
“Well, it looks like you have your answer,” he said with a smile.
Within two weeks of purchasing my computer, however, I lost my only writing assignment!
At that time, I served with a group of women on a committee. The leader was resigning, and nominations were taken for the vacant position. I nominated one of my friends, who later was installed as the new leader.
What came next was totally unexpected. It quickly became apparent that this was a very ambitious person, who did not take kindly to being opposed. Those who disagreed with “suggestions” were pressured to comply, any who were perceived as a threat were drummed out. I was one of them.
Had it been someone that I really didn’t know, this would not have felt like a betrayal; but this was someone I considered to be my friend. Door after door for service became closed to me. I was so hurt and confused.
“Did I hear You correctly, Lord? Did I read into the laptop something that wasn’t there? I don’t get this.”
To avoid sustaining more injury, I fled from the presence of this person, spending more time in personal Bible study and in prayer.
This was my first “Saul,” who chased me away from what God anointed me to do, but drove me closer to God in the process.
In January, 2009, a fellow writer, whom I greatly admire, caught up with me in the hall.
“Hi, Tami! There’s a book writing class being offered by a young man at no cost. It’s a fifteen week course. Last week was the first meeting and it was very good. Are you interested? I could pick you up this Tuesday.”
The class was fabulous! The instructor began with how to “corral” our ideas and shape them into an outline. From the outline, how to fill in the body of the text. Then he walked us through how to format, paginate, and design covers for our books. We were introduced to Lulu, and encouraged to publish the work we’d done during the class. Our book, in print, was expected by the end of the course.
My class project was the slim volume offered in the right-hand column here. It’s title is Lessons by Heart – Learned at the Feet of Jesus. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into the 133 pages within! I was amazed to have the whole thing sitting on my table as a book.
The instructor also suggested that we begin a blog as a means of advertising our books, and gave a thorough presentation on WordPress. His idea made sense, so I came home and started designing my “home” in Blogtopia. Since the object was to market my book, I gave the blog the same name.
Two months into blogging, however, I had one follower, and had gotten about 50 views. I picked up a “watcher” – a self-proclaimed defender of the faith – on the second article I posted. He was not blatantly mean, but his words dripped with sarcasm as he questioned what I’d written.
(I take this responsibility very seriously. We live in an era of wide-range deception, and I do not ever want to contribute to that. The last thing I want is to stand before the Lord and explain how I lead even one other person away from His loving care.)
This person’s comments scared me. Afraid that I would spread heresy, I quit posting anything. Lessons by Heart sat unused for four years. I assumed it had been deleted due to inactivity long ago.
This person was my second “Saul,” who “ran me off,” – away from the work to which I believed God had called me.
In the four years since, I’ve been busy writing – but had no outlet for my work. I wrote most of a commentary for women on the book of Joshua for Princess Warriors, wrote about half of a novel with the working title, Dated Richard, Married Leon. I’ve also written a hundred or so small articles like what I post here.
I still don’t know what I’ll do with all of these writings. I’m not anxious to go through the publishing process again. I did everything but the cover for the book myself, and it was a LOT of work! Of course, last time I did the whole thing, start to finish, in four months. There were so many “unknowns,” and I’m mostly a coward when it comes to venturing out of my comfort zone.
A choice had to be made as I dealt with the first Saul. I could become like him, repaying evil for evil (sad to say, I sometimes failed here), and become bitter; or I could step out in faith that God was going to use this for my good and trust Him for the outcome.
My first Saul served to move me from a place of “preaching to the choir” out into the world of the lost and broken. I lead worship for women at our local mission’s recovery home. I’ve gone out to the park, where our church feeds the homeless every Sunday, and provided music from time to time. I’ve gone to Nicaragua to serve the last three years, and am currently recording audio books for the mission’s recovery program, which will benefit those residents who cannot read. Oh, and this year a dear friend of mine helped me record and produce a music CD for the nurses in Nicaragua. The greatest benefit of all is that I was driven into the arms of my loving Father, who became my refuge and strength. (There is not enough room here to tell everything else that was a benefit of being chased off!)
So, you see, the time has not been wasted…but a lot changed in me during these years. Without my first “Saul,” I would never have done any of these other things. Every one of them has been the direct result of that person’s behavior.
My second “Saul” taught me the importance of confirming everything that I believe the Lord has spoken to me before putting it into print. “By two or three witness a thing is confirmed,” the Bible states. This is crucial – especially while our minds are being renewed and we are growing up in Christ. Many of the old traditions had to go, and have been replaced with actions that come from a purer heart and better motives.
Through this “Saul,” I learned that there are some in the body who’ve made it their job to “categorize” or “rank” fellow believers, and to find our wounded and shoot them. These are not gifts of the Spirit that I find in the Bible. I appreciate being shown (IN LOVE!) where I am in error. After all, truth is my personal quest. I have such a long way to go. I am honored whenever someone comes alongside to walk me through misconceptions. Mentors are awesome. Critics who tear down for the sport of it? Give ’em a smiley face and move on.
I learned that God is faithfully present when everyone around me is fickle. I learned to trust Him for the outcome – to know that there’s a purpose to the places I’ve run to. I have a greater compassion for people, having learned that behind each “Saul” is a sad, sad story that has twisted them into what they have become. Consequently, I take their broken, bloody little bodies and “set them on the Lord’s lap,” asking Him to heal their wounds.
I also had to grow up. It was time for me to learn that there is only One that I must please. If He’s the only One who is pleased with me, that is enough. From time to time I still fall into the trap of people-pleasing, but don’t live there anymore.
I do not recall what caused me to look up my old blog and see if it still existed, but on March 26 of this year, I did. Something about writing here felt right. It was time.
One week into posting, the Lord brought these verses to my attention:
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the abilities which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
With these instructions burned into my mind, I sit at my (third!) laptop with fear and trembling every day. I ask the Lord what He wants to say to you through my blog. I type what He brings to mind. Mostly, He wants His children to know that His favor is on each and every one of us. We are fully and completely forgiven. My job is to convey His heart for His children by sharing the ways He has lavished His love on me.
I’m not a “favorite.” He longs to be every bit as intimate with all of His kids. Sometimes people simply don’t know that this kind of relationship is possible and need to be shown what it looks like in real life. Until about 10 years ago, I had no idea. I missed out on some wonderful times with my Lord because I didn’t know He wanted to interact with me in such a personal way.
My heart’s desire through this blog, and through my life, is to invite every person I come in contact with into a vibrant, real, intimate, and joyous relationship with our heavenly Father, and with Jesus.
“This is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3
Eternal life is the gift of (not from) God – Himself. He is the gift. It doesn’t get much clearer than that!
Wow! We can enjoy a relationship with Him like Adam and Eve had before the fall; like Jesus demonstrated when He was here on earth. THIS is the purpose of salvation. What a shame it would be to miss the point.
How about you? Do you have a Saul? Have you changed for the better because of him or her? Or have you become bitter? Do tell!