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Monday, October 30, 2006

The Threshing Floor

Life as I knew it changed with my entrance onto the Threshing Floor. This special place exists in cyberspace and is where my mentor group shares, cares, bleeds, and dissects each other's writing. It's where we get threshed and the chaff blown away so that what's left is useful and good. That process is sometimes fun, often times painful. It hurts to have people look at a piece of your work that you're proud of and tell you it needs to change.

But a good writer listens. A great writer learns. An outstanding writer? Well, you'd have to meet my crit partners to see one of those. ;-) I hope to grow up and be that kind of writer someday.

Life changed for me again with my first book contract. In the letter at the front of my first novel, I equate writing a book with carrying and delivering a baby. One thing I didn't put in there was that my first response to learning I was pregnant and when I found out I'd been offered a book contract were identical.

I threw up.

Yep. Feeling overwhelmed, coupled with fear and a whole host of other emotions drop kicked my abs and continued to do so for the entire nine months of each pregnancy and for most of this past year as I've worked on getting my first story ready for the bookstore shelves. All of my babies were worth the pain of the nine months they spent inside me. And just last night as I finished another round of edits, I caught a proud glimpse of my book baby and had to smile. God is so good.

Yesterday I listened to an amazing sermon on worship. What does that have to do with writing? Everything. When I write it's long been my prayer that it would be an act of worship. I've often felt like the runner Eric Liddell when he spoke of feeling God's pleasure when he ran. That's how I feel when I write.

But the pastor asked, “What does worship cost you?” Because true worship is costly. Like the perfume Mary of Bethany poured over Jesus where the disciples clamored against her act of worship, saying “Why this waste?”

Many times this year I’ve said those same words to myself, feeling like I’ve wasted so much to pursue this dream called writing. I’ve felt like I disappointed so many people and had to pass on so many good things because there were not enough hours in the day to do all I or others wanted me to do. So just in case I missed the point that worship is costly and that what Jesus said of Mary, He says of all of His children, the pastor talked a number of times about Jesus’ response to Mary’s worship. Jesus told the disciples to leave Mary alone. “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

My heart filled at those words that the pastor spoke to the crowd, but that Jesus spoke to my heart. No matter what others have thought of the time I’ve spent writing, Jesus hasn’t despised my offering.

Neither should I.

But I have. There were times this year I wanted to throw it all away and never write again. It hurt. I felt like my writing would never be good enough, never carry the message the Lord put on my heart that I keep trying to get on paper. I’ve feared, still do sometimes, the rejection of bad reviews or people who have unkind things to say about my novel. I’ve cried over times I didn’t get to spend with my husband and children. The physical cost of writing so much has worn me down too. Carpel tunnel and cubital tunnel, as well as nights and nights of too little sleep.

As I was thinking about all this, the pastor shared another scripture. I had to laugh at first because it’s the exact place where the name of my mentor group came from. It’s where King David is talking to the owner of a threshing floor about buying the man’s land to build an altar. The man wanted to give it to the king, but David said this…

"I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." (2 Samuel 24:24)

Me either.

And so I put that verse on my computer to challenge and remind me.

True worship is costly.

But I will not give to the Lord that which cost me nothing. And He will not despise my worship. In fact, He whispers His approval. To the enemy of my soul who’d like nothing more than to have me believe his lies about the worthlessness or waste of my worship, Jesus answers loud and clear: “Leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

I pray you’ll join me in pouring your vile of worship over Jesus. He’ll receive it. And its aroma, like Mary’s perfume, will fill the room and bring glory to His name.

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