Sunday, June 30, 2013

Write What You Know

"I remembered Thy judgments of old, O Lord; 
and have comforted myself."
Psalm 119:52

I love reading in the Psalms.
I love the fact that David was honest.
Don't get me wrong.
I am not happy to know that he failed and displeased God.
My heart breaks to know of the things he did
and the horrible repercussions that followed.
I do not rejoice in the thought of his sin.
But, I love the fact that David was a man after God's Own heart,
even though he was human...
in spite of the fact that he was flawed....
regardless that he failed in a big way.
God used him mightily,
and through his failures, 
through his paths to restoration and forgiveness,
we find hope.

David wrote the Psalms based on 100% personal experience.
He didn't live a perfect life seated upon a pedestal of self-righteousness.
David didn't interview other people,
listen intently to their stories,
take careful notes of their life experiences,
then write it all down to compile such a beautiful book.

The things David wrote were drawn from a very personal place.
The encounters with God of which he wrote were not written based on hearsay.
David's  relationship with God was very close.
His experiences with God were on a very personal, first-hand basis.

David wrote from his own life.
This is why his writings are so effective.
So inspired.
So deep.

It is one thing to hear about the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God.
It is quite another to live it, breathe it, and experience it 
on the most intimate and personal of levels.

Had David never failed God, how could he write with such passion about His forgiveness?
Had he never personally experienced the bitter taste of remorse and regret,
how could he have ever coined such poignant accounts of its torment?
Had he never sinned, how could he explain its repercussions in such vivid detail?

There is nothing like personal experience.
Most assuredly, it is the best teacher, 
and writing from its perspective, 
without question, lends the heaviest dose of credibility.

Someone can speak all day long about the life experiences of others,
and while there is a certain element of help to be found from hearing second-hand tales,
somehow the depths of effectiveness are not as strong 
as knowing the speaker speaks from the depths of their own heart.

Aren't you glad the men and women of the Bible were not perfect?
Aren't you thankful that God allowed their biographies to be included?
Doesn't it fill your heart with joy to know you are not the first person who ever sinned
and fell short of the glory of God?
Doesn't it relieve a certain amount of pressure to know that God, in His Divine wisdom,
forgives, restores, complete accepts, and yes, bless His name, even uses 
deeply flawed, seemingly hopelessly imperfect people?

One thing I appreciate most about David is that he was brutally honest.
He may have tried to cover his sins for a period of time...around a year, to be exact,
but when everything was boiled down and the rubber met the road,
standing in Nathan, the prophet's presence, 
confronted with the truths of reality,
David humbled.
He acknowledged his sin.
He confessed.
He admitted his own fault.
He took full responsibility.
He didn't fight it, nor did he try to longer hide it.

God let him know that nothing he did was all.
David realized the truths of Hebrews 4:13, 
though it had not yet been written.

"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: 
but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

So, David repented.

This happened more than once.
Well, not the same, exact scenario, obviously.
But, David made mistakes all throughout his life.
He was human.

He wrote from a very human, personal perspective.
He took those life experiences, and he wrote about them.
I am eternally grateful that he did.

Because, in David's words I have found a spot of light in the deepest darkness,
time after time after time.
In his words, I find comfort, because he personally knew what he was talking about.
If he came through it,
if he failed and was restored,
if he found God to be true,
then, by His grace, I can, too.

During my studies,
I learned something that has probably had more impact on my personal writing
than any other single thing.

It is this.
"Write what you know."

Write what you have lived.

Writing from the heart is real.
There is no pretense.
No hypocrisy.
No fantasy.

Writing from personal experience is believable.

So, I encourage you, my friend.

What is your life story?
What unique experiences have you lived?
What are your failures?
Your problem areas?
In what areas have you experienced God's forgiveness?
How have you found God to you...on a personal level?
How did He express Himself to you?
Based on your own sins and His redeeming grace,
how could you help and minister to others?

We live in a dying, hurting world.
More so than I have ever seen.

God needs people to fulfill His mission of love.
He chooses to use human instruments...
flawed, battle-scarred, and imperfect though they be.

Bringing your life to God, with all of your hang-ups, issues, imperfections, and checkered past,
and fully surrendering it all to Him, 
brings to His Kingdom a most precious element.
You are unique.
Loved enough for the Son of God to lay down His life for your salvation.
Valuable enough for God to bring to the place you are right now.

He hasn't cut you off, abandoned you, left you to live out the rest of your days in misery.
He has work for you to do.
Yes, you.

Just because you failed Him,
just because you sinned,
just because your life is a tangled web...
doesn't mean you aren't worth something to God.

God seems to love to see people like you and me come to bow at His feet.
I believe He thoroughly enjoys forgiving us, washing us clean, making us into new creatures, 
and sending us out to tell others all about it.

Because that is the ultimate, best way to spread the good news of the Gospel.
When it happens to you...on a personal level.
That is the most credible of all stories you could ever tell.
That is the most effective of all ministries in which you could ever engage.

Being able to say, "I've been there" holds the heaviest amount of weight and the most credibility.

I've been dealing with a problem that has plagued me for years.
I have severe, and I do mean severe, anxiety...
almost every, single day.
It rises within me...I can actually feel it start and escalate...
 until it is literally and profoundly affecting my health.
I don't know why I can't just trust.
Why am I consumed with such fear, in certain areas?
When I know God has always been faithful?

I beg God to help me every day...and He does.
I plead His mercy...and it continually flows.

I wish I weren't so deeply marred.
I wish I were perfect...and victorious...every second of life.
I continually aspire to be virtuous.
I struggle in so many areas.
Sometimes I feel like such a mess.
I know God must look down and shake His head sometimes, 
wondering when in the world I will get it right.

But, I am trying.
I aspire.
To be like Jesus.
To please Him.
To make Him smile.
To make Him glad He saved me.

I write with honesty...from a place of human brokenness.
From a place very personal...from what I know.

I send it out...from my heart to yours....
in hopes that someone can take comfort in knowing they are not alone.

I usually stick to the King James Version, at all times.
However, I do like to read others and often find they shed a facet of understanding.
I am very careful on this, because there is always an element
of the dangers of misinterpretation and alteration.
God is faithful to give wisdom and discernment, if we ask Him to.

That being said,
I would like to include
the New Living Translation of Philippians 3:13,14,
of which I am particularly fond.
This verse literally speaks my heart.

"No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,
but I focus on this one thing:
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
I press on to reach the end of the race
and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

David reached the end of his race.
He died, a man after God's own heart.
He left a beautiful journal behind that contains invaluable 
nuggets of wisdom, comfort, solace, and hope....
all drawn from living and walking through daily life in the presence 
of a forgiving, merciful, loving God.

Sometimes, I just imagine David writing...
in a cave, while being pursued by King Saul,
on a hillside, while keeping careful watch over his sheep,
in the woods, after killing the lion or the bear,
on the floor, face saturated with bitter tears, begging God's forgiveness,
in the temple, heart full, worship flowing from the depths of his soul,
inside a tent, near the battlefield, rejoicing in the defeat of Goliath,
alone, in his room, reflective, quiet, secluded, and subdued,
on his throne, weighted with responsibility, in dire need of Divine intervention and assistance.

David was a real man.
He lived and walked and breathed.
He failed miserably.
He triumphed majestically.
He loved passionately.
He hungered and thirsted for God.
He sinned deeply.
He admitted his wrongs.
He confessed his sins.
He was human.
Not unlike any one of us.

What if David had kept it all to himself?
What if he hadn't shared?

How sad to open our Bible and not find the longest Old Testament book.
How bereft of comfort our funeral services without Psalm 23.
How hopeless our sinful plight without the words of Psalm 32 and Psalm 51.
How depressed our betrayed spirit if we couldn't turn to Psalm 55..
and read about the time David was the victim of cruel betrayal.

David wrote what he knew...what he felt...what he experienced.

Now, isn't it time you started telling your story?
Go ahead.
Take the first step.
Allow the ugliness of  your tests transform into the beauty of  your testimony...
like David did.

Someone...somewhere...needs to hear what you have to say.

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