I’ve been taking this course from Jesus titled “Dying to Self.” It’s one of those outcome-based classes (those of you with an education background will recognize the term). I can’t move on to the next lesson until I’ve passed the test. And I keep failing.
Death to self isn’t as gory as one might suppose. I’m not required to commit suicide or anything. How could I move on to the next lesson if that were the case?
For a long time I thought this dying-to-self thing required all kinds of sacrifices on my part. No indulgences, no activities that I liked--you know, legalism in the extreme. If I was having fun, I must not be dying to self.
No wonder I couldn’t pass the test. God didn’t want me to be a grim, walking, talking rules book. With some remedial work, He helped me figure things out.
Dying to self has almost nothing to do with self-discipline. It has everything to do with obedience.
When we think of obedience, we tend to think “don’t.” Don’t write on the walls with a crayon. Don’t stay out past curfew. Don’t drive over the speed limit. But obedience also involves “do.” Do visit a friend who needs a shoulder to cry on. Do clean the bathroom on a regular basis. Do eat all your vegetables.
As writers, our “don’t thoughts” might include: don’t waste writing time by going out to lunch with a friend or don’t follow rabbit trails on social media (clicking on one interesting item to another interesting item to another…).However, there are plenty of things we can do. Do spend time building your author platform via social media and blogging. Do attend conferences and other meetings where writers congregate. Do try your hand at writing short stories as well as books.
credit to cambraza.blogspot.com
Obedience should be easy if I want to do what God directs me to do, but too often it doesn’t work out that way. He might lead me to enter a contest, but I won’t make time to prepare for it. Maybe He’ll nudge me to query a publisher about a new idea, but I’ll be too timid to follow through. Or something as mundane as drinking more water or taking ten minutes to stretch after every hour of sitting at that computer. Yeah, that one requires self-discipline, being aware of my body’s needs, but if I truly want to obey, He’ll give me the ability to do it.
A few years ago God gave me the directive, “Go play.” How hard could that be? Jesus was telling me to relax, have fun. Take the Holy Spirit with me and enjoy my surroundings, my family, my friends. But I had trouble obeying. I worried and fussed over the problems of those close to me. I wanted to stick around and tell Jesus how I thought He should fix them. Like I knew better than God?
It’s been an ongoing lesson. I know the right answers to “go play” in my head. I have even succeeded in several exercises, but when He puts me in a big test situation, I try to take control as the problem-solver. God wants me to leave my loved ones in His capable hands, and prove my trust by exploring new vistas with the Holy Spirit.
Those vistas have included joining the wonderful community of writers in ACFW and traveling to spend time with these new friends. We have so much in common! When I am able to fully obey His directive, I will have passed one more test in the coursework of dying to self.
Think about the tests God gives you. Have you been able to obey his orders? To die to yourself and live to please Him? To trust Him with your loved ones, your writing, your life?
I sure hope you’re a faster learner than I am!
Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft.
A wife, mother of three, grandmother to seven, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!
Where Linda can be found on the web: