It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. For the last few months, I’ve been on a journey of discovery, asking the Lord to show me more clearly what He wants me to do with my life. I was feeling overwhelmed with work, freelance work, and ministry, and, honestly, I felt about ready to ditch everything. Not because I wanted to, but because of intense frustration.
But you know how it goes. When we ask God for answers, He answers, and sometimes what we learn isn’t all “flowers and rainbows.” There’s something awful about, on one hand, seeing the potential that God put inside us, and, on the other, when He shows us how dreadfully unprepared and uncommitted we truly are. It’s like the facade that pride puts up that makes us think we’re ready to take on the world for Christ just crumbles away, and we’re left staring at the ugly, mangled truth: the selfishness and immaturity underlying and influencing everything we do. It’s ugly. It’s shameful. But it is real. And until we see it and deal with it, it will strangle the results of everything we do in God’s name.
I sincerely hope that I can properly express what I am feeling and that my experience will encourage and inspire you. There is no judgement here. What I described above was exactly what I saw in my own heart. I share it with you so you can see that, if you are in a similar place, you are not alone, and that everyone struggles. And I hope that you find freedom in that. Tonight, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will speak directly to your hearts and cover any flubs or clumsy writing on my part.
“What is my purpose? What is the heart and soul of the Lost Pen Magazine?” are some of the questions I have been asking God for the last few weeks. Well, I’ll be honest. There were times I was begging. I just got fed up with the whole thing. Depending on what spiritual mentor or teaching I read or listened to, I would try this or that, or wait, or try whatever I could to get things going. I could sense God working, but I couldn’t see the whole picture, and it was driving me nuts. At the end of two years, I had worked really hard and had accomplished a lot, but I was also burned out. I’m not sorry for the good that came out of it all, though. I just felt that there must be a better way. But you know how it is. Of course, God has a plan. But He’s under NO obligation to reveal any of it to us when we ask, nor is He obligated to reveal anything at all! How amazing but also TREMENDOUSLY FRUSTRATING!!!!
So, tonight, I decided to have it out with Him. Of course, He won. And He wasn’t entirely as “warm and delicate” about it as I had hoped. His answer was more of a “Listen, I know you’re fed up. But that’s fine. Have your tantrum and then get up and get over it. There’s stuff to do.” Now I know what it feels like when I use my “tough love” approach on my kids and clients at work! Yikes!
For those who are curious, the actual verse He spoke to me through was Acts 1:6-8 New International Version:
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I didn’t react well at first to His answer, either. I was annoyed, and my pride was hurt. But then I began to look at it differently. I started to look at it as God saying, “Listen, don’t worry about things that don’t concern you. I know my plans for you, and I know when and how they’re going to work out. Just do what you know I have called you to do: serve Me, and outreach to those around you and to those I bring to you. That’s it.”
While this was going on, my phone buzzed with an email from someone who had contacted me a few weeks ago through the website. He was struggling to understand his creative purpose and how to do what he felt God was calling Him to do. He had a lot of questions. I really wanted to give him answers that were rooted in wisdom and what I felt God wanted him to know. So, I prayed and answered as best as I could. Tonight, his email was full of hope and restored purpose, and he shared that he is focused on moving forward on his creative journey. I closed the email, bawled, and thanked God from the bottom of my heart that He had used my clumsy attempts to help someone find their way. What else could I do?
Even now, I shake my head. God is . . . incomprehensible, at times. I mean, how many times has He completely done the opposite to what I expected? Like, for two years, I have been building the Christian Creative Nexus, the Lost Pen Magazine, and working myself to the bone doing the social media stuff, newsletters, blah, blah, blah all to moderate results . . . and a few simple prayers and some thoughtful responses to a stranger in need is all it took for God to transform that person’s life—while utterly confounding me in the process. God is God. He saves us by throwing down our pride to reveal His sovereignty every time. And, thank God He does.
All this to say that this is how God showed me the truth I’ve been looking for. After bawling, thanking Him, and bawling some more, I picked up my Bible and asked God to speak to me some more. I flipped through various chapters and landed on 2 Corinthians 5:11-20 (bold is added for emphasis).
11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us,[b] so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.[c] Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.[d] 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Tonight, I realized that nothing I could do creatively or in ministry could matter more than helping even one person realize their purpose in Christ, to envision themselves serving Him in it, and then walking it out. Obviously, salvation is the most important ministry of reconciliation, but I believe that the mission of the Lost Pen Magazine is to work to reconcile believers to their creative calling and ministry—to help everyday Christian Creatives realize that the Creator God has entrusted them with a unique gift that is theirs and their alone, and that it is up to them to use it for His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.
There is a place for professionals. But there is so much more room for everyday people to be active doing what their soul and spirits are dying to do. Many of us are bound by fear, insecurity, doubt, anxiety, etc. But though we might struggle with them, they are not reasons for us to put our candles under a bushel (Luke 11:33)—not when the God of the universe is with us and in us to do all kinds of good works (2 Timothy 3:17). I don’t care if it’s hosting the exhausted parents of a busy family for a delicious meal at your house, making posters in church for the Sunday school, or knowing how to entertain bored teenagers two hours a week at youth group, do it and do it with all your might. If you sing, sing. If you can write, write. If you love photography, by all means capture God’s gorgeous creation on film or digital medium. But find your purpose, give it to God, and then serve Him with everything you’ve got.
The Lost Pen Magazine is first and foremost a safe place for believers to submit. Experienced creatives and newbies alike have published with us. We strive to be supportive and helpful, while also being professional and maintaining a high standard. So far, we’ve been focused on fiction, poetry, testimonies, and art. But, as you can see above, there is so much more to creativity than the standard genres. Whether people submit or not, our hope is that readers and contributors both will find encouragement and inspiration in the pages that will support them on their creative journeys, and, ultimately, help deepen their faith and relationship with our awesome, wonderful, and loving Father in heaven.