Currently I’m writing a book about Paul and the Galatian churches. My typical way of doing things is to obsess about it until I get it done. Let’s get the book written in a week or two. Perhaps it’s because I fear if I delay it, I won’t get it done. Maybe it’s just because I’m an idea and action person. Or it could be because I want it out there Right Now! I don’t know.
And then I read three things that cause me to pause.
First was Jim Cymbala’s book Fresh Power. He was meditating on the Scripture in 1 Cor 2:4-5:
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Jim says this:
“Think of these words today when so many speakers and churches want to produce “wise and persuasive words,” cleverness and human charisma, a beautiful church plant and great programs for the family–everything but the “demonstration of the Spirit’s power” that the apostle Paul exalted to the glory of God.”
The Scripture provokes a question to me. How much am I seeking the Lord’s power in what I do? A 5-10 minute prayer time? I think of great preachers such as Billy Graham. I’ve heard better preachers but the anointing on him is powerful. And I know great books that have changed history that have not always been the most powerful writing such as “In His Steps,” but they have been anointed by the Spirit. Are we cultivating God’s power to bring the transformation as we study and pray? Am I more excited to get a book out than to slow down and seek the anointing and direction of the Lord as I write?
The second cause to pause was studying Paul’s timeline of his life this morning, when he came to the Lord he immediately prayed and fast, blindly, for 3 days. Then shortly thereafter headed to Arabia for 3 whole years, consulting no one but receiving the gospel from the Lord. After that season his ministry exploded. Why 3 years? He had studied the Scriptures fastidiously. Why not just jump into preaching? Take a few months, maybe a year but 3 years? Because Paul did not blast out of the starting gates, his ministry was actually richer, deeper, wider and more powerful.
Then then there was my third cause to pause. A Scripture I have thought of often in Proverbs.
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Prov 25:28
Here I read “Self-Discipline.” When I’m not exercising patience, I’m like a city with broken walls. And if you’ve ever been to Israel, broken walls were utterly dangerous. One could not exist long-term without walls, which is why in Ezra and Nehemiah there was such emphasis on the rebuilding of the walls.
Patience and prayer. Perhaps with this the books I write will be of much richer quality and more anointed through prayer and God’s Spirit. It’s not something natural, but it’s something I want to grow.