I could not have timed this any better. Four years ago today (I am writing this on Tuesday, March 8 ) I posted my very first blog on She Worships. I created the blog as a place where Christian women could be challenged to dig deeper in their relationship with God. Since that first day, not a week has passed without publishing at least one post. While on vacations or trips overseas, I still managed to publish steady material each week. I even had guest bloggers posting during my honeymoon. That’s how committed I was.
But committed to what? That is the question I have been asking myself lately. As I mentioned in my last post, I did a lot of soul searching over the weekend and I didn’t like everything I found. On Saturday I spent time reflecting on Matthew 16:24-27, the famous passage where Jesus asks, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” I knew that I had been neglecting or “forfeiting” my soul, but for what? What had I been working to gain at the expense of my spiritual health?
As I pondered and prayed over that question, the answer came to me quickly and clearly: ministry success. My greatest drive, the thing I think about more than anything else, is to be effective in ministry. Given my personality type, I have a very competitive drive and if I had landed in the corporate world I would have climbed the ladder mightily. But I didn’t. I’m in ministry. So I work hard on my calling and I do all that I can to push ahead. For a writer, that means networking and promoting my blog and writing for as many publications as possible. The aim is to get my material out there. The more people who read my writing, the more effectively I am using my gift. In theory.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the midst of pursuing my calling, I stopped writing for God and started writing for me. And for that I have paid a price. My writing has become production-driven and me-centered. You may not have noticed it in the material itself, but those elements were embedded in my motives. What started out as a service to God became a service to self. The “idol factory” that is my heart had perverted an initially Christ-centered work.
So what now?
That is the question I found myself asking God once I realized my mistake. In verse 24 of Matthew 16, Jesus instructs his disciples to “deny” themselves and follow him. Whatever they were striving after instead of God, whatever they sought to gain instead of a healthy soul, they were called to deny. If my blog is the means to my “gain,” what would it look like to deny myself in this area?
As I prayed over this question a frightening thought came to mind: “Don’t blog during Lent.” Immediately, I panicked. My blog has finally gained momentum and I now write more frequently for high traffic sites. I feel as though I’m just on the cusp of something big. I can’t afford to take a break from writing! This just isn’t a good time for me.
But if this isn’t a good time, when will there be a good time? Next year? In 5 years? Ever? If I don’t have time now to stop and place my passion at God’s feet, if I am unable to hand it back to the one from whom it came, then when?
That’s when I realized that I have to do it now. I need to take a break. I need to spend time examining my heart and remembering why I started writing in the first place. I need to prune out my false motives and purify them. And most of all, I need to surrender myself to God’s love and grace so that my heart is captured by Him in a way that breathes life into my writing and directs me toward His glory, not my own.
For some of you it may be difficult to understand how tough a decision this was for me. But there is still a part of me that feels stupid for doing it. Whenever I think about the passage of 40 days without a single update on here, all I can see is my blog traffic plummeting. It hurts me to think about it. But the fact that it hurts shows me just how necessary this break is. My heart isn’t breaking for the ministry opportunities lost, but for the loss of readership I worked so hard to build. It’s me I’m hurting for.
So this is me signing off until Easter. You might run across my writing in other online locations because I either wrote pieces that are scheduled to be published during Lent, or I have deadlines I am committed to uphold, but this blog will be silent. I will miss sharing my heart, my joys and my struggles, but God has more important plans for me right now. If I’m not writing for Him, then I don’t want to write at all.
Love you all, and see you after Easter!