The Priority of the Season

 

“Patience means waiting God’s time without doubting God’s love.” (Our Daily Bread, 3/2/2009)

For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 NIV

 

“Obeying God,” I told my husband recently, “isn’t simple or easy.”

I was referring to taking a sabbatical from writing fiction. I didn’t want to do it. I love getting lost in the story, letting the characters carry me away on a journey of their own making. It’s a high like no other, this thrill of writing fiction.

At least it was for my first three books. Then came the elephant – my fourth novel, book two of the PennWoods Mystery series. Like Mama Elephant carries her baby in her womb for two years before giving birth, so too has been the gestation period for Ghost Mountain. Over two years, six partial drafts and more dead ends than I cared to count.

It isn’t that I no longer want to write fiction. I do. More than anything. I miss dancing with the muse. It’s that I’d lost the passion, the excitement for the story. “No tears in the writer,” Robert Frost once said, “no tears in the reader.”

What happened?

Life happened. With all its crises, issues and upcoming changes. Things that take time, energy, emotion, and prayer. Things on which I need to focus before I can move on to pursuing the vision of writing. For now I’m called to lay my Isaac down.

I think of how Abraham felt when God told him to offer his only son – the son he’d waited a lifetime for – to Him as a sacrifice. Sacrifice – giving up something you want for a higher purpose.

Renowned Christian author and speaker Priscilla Shirer had to lay her Isaac down at one point in her life, too. When her sons were born, her priorities changed. Between gigs of traveling the country and speaking to hundreds of women, she changed diapers. She soon sensed God telling her to put the speaking ministry aside for a season.

She obeyed.

In time, Lifeway contacted her: Instead of Priscilla travelling to, say 10 different churches in an area, she would travel to one central location and the women from those churches would come to that venue. Awesome! Less time. Same effort. More people reached with the messages God gives her.

She obeyed God and took a Sabbath from what she knew she was called to do. Then, at the right time, God gave her ministry back to her, better, more effective, more efficient, and allowing time for her growing family. It was like the Israelites gathering twice as much manna on the sixth day in the same amount of time and with the same amount of effort as they did on the other five days because they were not to gather manna on the Sabbath. They obeyed. God blessed them with a double portion.

Essentially God told them, “You honor my Sabbath on the seventh day, and I’ll give you a double portion on the sixth.”

“Focus on the priority of the season,” Priscilla writes in her Bible study Breathe.

The priority of the season. With health and family issues, and DH’s upcoming retirement, life is just too tumultuous right now to focus on writing fiction. I am, however, reading it and studying the craft while I wait for God to open the door again and say, “Now.”

Thank You, God, that You haven’t removed the dream, the desire, to write fiction from my heart. Give me the wisdom to use this time wisely and strength for the wait. Amen.

Read and meditate on Genesis 22:1–18; Exodus 16:21–26

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Savoring the Season

 

“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 10:41–42 NLT

“Are you ready for Christmas?” someone asked me this past week.

“Yes!” I answered.

She looked surprised and began to commend me, but I stopped her.

“I don’t have a single Christmas card written,” I confessed. “Most of the presents are waiting to be wrapped, and I’m still crocheting an afghan for my son. I should have it done by Christmas Eve. And I don’t have a single thing baked. But I’m ready for Christmas.”

She looked puzzled, so I explained.

“I’m not stressed this year because I’m savoring the unfolding of the season.”

This is, truly, “the most wonderful time of the year.” Anticipation fills the air. Kindness and compassion abound. Joy bubbles. Love spills over. Peace pervades the atmosphere. And I don’t want to miss it by letting the Martha in me overrule the Mary in me.

Over the years of exhausting myself so much that I couldn’t truly enjoy Christmas, I’ve learned a few things.

First, I’ve learned that I don’t have to do it all myself. I’ve learned to let others help.

My son, his girlfriend, and her parents will be with us Christmas Eve. I planned an easy menu that doesn’t require hours upon hours in the kitchen preparing food. Soup, sandwiches, veggies, and dessert. Simple. I’ll provide the soup and sandwiches, and David and Kristin will bring the veggie tray and dessert.

The focus, I’ve come to realize, is not on the food but on family. Time with them is precious and more important than a feast that leaves me wiped out after preparing.

I’ve learned to say “yes” when someone asks if they could do something. Set the table, put out the food trays, light the candles, fill the ice bucket. I know how good it makes me feel when I can help. Allowing my guests—even children—to lend a hand gives them a feeling of being accepted, valued, and needed. More than welcome. Not so much a guest as a cherished friend or a beloved family member. You can’t put a ribbon or a price tag on a gift like that.

Second, I’ve learned that I don’t have to do everything. I’ve learned to let some things on the to-do list go.

I’ve learned that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. I used to strive for a spotless, sparkling, picture-perfect house. I was worried how it would reflect on me if my home didn’t look like a scene from House Beautiful or Good Housekeeping. But I’ve learned that no one looks at the baseboards.

What’s more important than a perfect house or a feast fit for a king is the Spirit of the Babe born in Bethlehem that cold night so long ago filling my home with love, joy, and peace like the fragrance from a scented candle.

I don’t need things done to be ready for Christmas. My heart, mind, and spirit are already celebrating.

What about you—are you ready for Christmas?

As I light the third Advent candle, remind me, Father, that it isn’t so important that my home is ready but that my heart is. Amen.

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.