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Deuteronomy 28:1-2

 1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to
observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD
your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and
overtake you, because you obey the voice
of the LORD your God
:

 

Deuteronomy 30:9-10

(when you repent me turn to God)

9 The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of
your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land
for good. For the LORD will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over
your fathers, 10 if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and
His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and
with all your soul.

 

 

The exhortation is stated thrice:  obey the voice of the LORD your God

This is both in addition to and in conjunction with observing and keeping His written commandments.

These passages more than imply that is not enough to simply read the written Word of God, nod and agree with it.  We must also hear His voice and obey it.

Jesus knew this when He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 “…man shall not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word (rhema) that proceeds from the mouth of God.  He also demonstrates this when He said in John 4:24 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

Jesus knew the written word (logos) of God better than anyone.  He used it to teach, fight Satan, and to perform miracles.  But even He saw the Rhema from God as vital as food itself. When He taught us to pray, saying, “…give us this day our daily bread,” He
meant so much more than physical provision.

Strive every day to feed yourself the logos(written word, the Bible) because as you store the verses in your soul/mind/spirit, the Holy Spirit will
activate them when He speaks to you.  Verses which you’ve read time and again will take on an entirely new
meaning and guide you to the perfect decision you could never have come to
otherwise.  And that is just one of the ways you’ll hear the voice of God.

But somehow, I have a feeling you’re more likely to hear His voice if you are diligently seeking (not just willing)
to obey it.  Remember, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

I leave you with a line from a popular worship song:

“This is my daily bread…

Your very word…

Spoken to me.”

Unseen Hope

I’ll believe it when I see it

Seems like wisdom, right?  After all, who wants to give their hope, their heart, their decisions over to something they aren’t absolutely certain about.  On the surface it seems like prudence to look through life with a healthy dose of skepticism.  No one wants to be “taken in.”

However, this bears a bit of re-examination.  We don’t realize how much of what we commit to in out thinking, our feelings and our decisions is based on what we believe.  And I’m not talking about things that we acknowledge based on visible, tangible evidence, I’m talking about things in which we place our faith without realizing it is a matter of faith.

Every day, we take for granted that we will wake up, and not die in our sleep.  There is no guarantee that our heart won’t stop, or a catastrophe won’t strike, and yet we choose not to live in fear because we believe we will be fine. This is hope.  Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we have made the choice to believe we will be safe, and we base our lives, our decisions and our emotions on that hope.  (Don’t get me wrong, hope is a VERY good thing!)

Scriptures say:

…hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance… Romans 8:24, 25

There are many things that I hope and pray for.  Most of the greatest answered prayers and fulfilled hopes in my life have come miraculously as a result of making unusual (by human standards) requests.  Asking God for what would be considered by mere mortals to be miracles.  I could not see how it was going to happen, but I knew this:  Nothing is impossible for God.  And what I consider a HUGE thing to ask of Him is, in the proper perspective, just a drop in the ocean.

What’s big?  A billion dollars, a skyscraper, the Grand Canyon?  Sure, in our eyes they are.  But through the eyes of the creator of the Universe, who called into existence things that were not (Rom 4:17) by His voice and spoken word, how great are these things anyway?  Do you believe you can speak to a mountain with faith the size of a mustard seed and command it to be removed and cast into the sea?  Is that too big for God?

It’s not about the end result (though yes, we pray and hope for it.) It’s about our faith.  In the book of Hebrews, it says:

Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

And Jesus Himself said:

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive

The book of James chapter 1 says:

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

So my goal in prayer is to please God with my single-minded faith.  The outcome of my prayer, while important, is but a byproduct.  I don’t live to receive that which I ask for in prayer.  I don’t pray primarily to receive.  I pray to please God, and I trust that in pleasing Him, he will take care of all my needs.

As Jesus said,

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righeousness,

And all these things will be added to you.

So I rather than live by the old addage, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” I will live by this:

I’ll see it when I believe it!

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Rejections, criticism you know the drill.  As a writer, so much of the feedback you get is subjective.  You need to believe in your craft and not get sidetracked by the endless onslaught of opinions.  Even from editors.  Take what you feel is valid, disregard the rest.  Learn and improve yourself by all means, but never allow it to deflate your sense of worth or your motivation.

But that doesn’t stop it from smarting the way they do, does it?

If you ask any string player (violin, guitar, cello), they’ll all tell you the importance of callouses.  Especially cellists.  We use our left thumb to hold down two strings at a time.  And without a nice, thick thumb callous it REALLY hurts.  But with enough consistent practice, and playing, that thick pad of skin develops and you can play for hours without feeling any pain.  In fact, the thicker it gets, the better you can hold down the strings.

I’m thinking that as writers, we need to be like cellists and develop a head callous.  Okay maybe not a “head-callous” (thick-headed? I don’t think so.)  But maybe we need a heart-callous that we can put on like SWAT armor, kevlar, so that when the rejections come, we can take them, feel them a bit, but just go on doing our jobs.

We all know that we need thick skins to be writers.  So like a cellist’s thumb callous, the thicker the better.  It’s not just for protecting from the pain of the strings, but it’s primarily for better performance.  (Though the protection is a needed byproduct.)

I still remind myself about Dean Koontz’s 75 rejections before making his second sale ever. 

Now look at him.

Another thing all writers need:  Persistence!  Think how much persistence it takes for a salmon to return to its spawning grounds. We writers are nothing if we don’t spawn (stories, books, etc.,) right?  And sometimes, it sure feels like the journey of a thousand miles.  For the Pacific Salmon, spawning is the final act of their life cycle.  And it does feel that way too.  But remember, as a writer, your work lives on immortal. 

And you are not a fish, you’re a Phoenix.  Though writing and getting rejections over and over very well feels like it’s becoming the last act of your life, you will rise from the fiery pyre more powerful than ever, and live again.

Write again.

Send it out again.

And sell again.

You’re almost there!  Don’t give up!

The night seems darkest before the break of dawn.

That’s it for the pep talk.  Go on and file away those rejection letters (or burn them if that helps) and write the next story or book.  If you keep going, keep learning, eventually you’ll sell.

The only failure is to stop trying.

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