I got tricked, dag nabbit!
Okay, here’s what happened. I was having a rough day at work. Nothing terrible, just a common mist that comes over me now and again and darkens the sun. I’m desperate for a writing career, and while I’ve had some successes—a few published stories, a growing following, and good reviews of my novella, Ferryman—I often feel I’m getting nowhere.
Now I like my job well enough, but it doesn’t pay the bills and it’s not really the field I want to be in long term. I’m hoping this will be a short stepping stone to something else.
But then God asked me a funny question: “If you had to stay at this job for the rest of your life, but you knew it was my will, would you do it?”
I replied, “Well, that would be tantamount to crucifix—AW! I walked right into that!”
I actually said out loud, “Wow, I walked right into that one.”
Don’t get it? Let me explain.
I’ve read the Bible a lot, certain verses came to me when I made that comment about how never becoming a true writer would be like crucifixion to me.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must[…]take up their cross daily.”
Paul was more explicit in Galatians 2:20. “I am crucified with Christ.”
In short, I may as well have replied, “Well, God, that would be exactly what I’m supposed to do.”
Now I’m not saying every minute of Christianity is agony. Jesus does provide comfort, joy, and material needs. Nor do I think that God actually said, “Stay in this job forever.” That seemed like an example to make a point.
The point was that if I want my own version of success, I’ll have to find some way to do it on my own because God has his own version. And to gain his success, I must sacrifice my own vision, my current dreams of greatness, and my timetable of success.
And that hurts. It’s what I’ve built my life around, or tried to. And it’s not a one-time pain, either, but one I must give up every day, as Jesus said.
But imagine if Jesus had clung to the earthly idea of success. He could’ve enjoyed great fame and wealth, perhaps. Yet he chose death, and because he did, he now has power that this earth can never match.
So it is with us who call him God. We must die to any earthly idea of greatness.
However, there’s a great irony about God. When he took Jesus’s claim to power, God gave him an even greater power. As C.S. Lewis put it in The Screwtape Letters, God “always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left”
So okay, I’ll bite the bullet and let myself get nailed to the cross because that pain is fleeting. What’s on the other side, however, lasts for eternity. If God doesn’t want me to be a writer (either right now or ever), it just means he wants me to be something greater.