Jan writing to you from the warm, sunny foothills of the Sierras, hoping to offer some words of encouragement for your writing and marketing journey.
What did you think when you read the title? Do the words ‘rest’ and ‘productivity’ really work together for the writer and marketer? I have been determined to find out.
Recently, during a sermon, I found myself continuing an ongoing conversation with God. Life felt hectic. I was weary.
I was listening–really! But woven in with the sermon passages and points came the remembrance of another verse I had been spending time considering: Matthew 11:28-30.
It says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (ESV).
The Message puts it this way: “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
In the busyness of a writer’s life, as I had defined it for myself, rest or living freely and lightly seemed impossible. And yet God had sent the invitation: He wanted me to live a life of grace and rest even as I labor with him to serve him and others through my ministry, writing, and marketing. I wondered, if I didn’t accept and live that invitation, what integrity was left in my offering of his hope that restores and gives life? Likely little.
So on that Sunday morning, I asked him: “How, Lord? How do I step into that?”
In my mind, I saw a simple picture of a few well-placed flagstones, part of a path. I knew it was a path, but I couldn’t see anything beyond these few stones that God had chosen to let me see and step onto. I know this is common picture and metaphor used by writers and teachers, but the picture became very personal at that moment. I thought I had learned this. One quick glance at my frenetic schedule and it was clear I had not.
Many of the stones on my path had been those I had put in place. Mine were ill-fitting, misplaced, or loose and jagged. They didn’t work. They only made my path more difficult and laborious. Often I would lay one down only to end up prying it out later. This could only create the opposite of rest and results that were far from productive.
With my attention now on God’s picture, I saw that this new invitation meant stepping onto only those stones he offered, without knowing what was beyond. Even as I began to focus my attention and my work on these only, I felt a trust and rest like I never had before.
A few days later my friend Joanne asked me how I would know the difference between the stones I placed or those that God had laid for me. I answered easily: “Mine are edged in panic; his are edged in peace.”
Panic for me has tinges of fear or mistrust, even if I don’t immediately recognize it. It leaves no room for peace, no room to walk with Jesus, work with him, and learn from him. No room for the “unforced rhythms of grace” or “living freely and lightly.”
So, I’ve taken in and exhaled a deep prayer-filled breath. I see the stones that are before me, those that are God’s. And I am satisfied.
Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Proverbs 4:26
When you ponder the writing and marketing path at your feet, what do you see, like, or hope to change?
Jan writes nonfiction from her home in the foothills of the California Sierras. She is currently adding to her Live Free series for the teen/ya audience and also enjoys life coaching and mentoring writers. Visit her site at www.jankern.com.