Happy Monday from Dianne Matthews! Can you CANners believe that it’s November already? I’ve been tied to my computer since spring, working extra-long days to finish a one-year devotional book in five months. The spiritual warfare has been ongoing but at the midway point, it really intensified.
I took Labor Day weekend off to visit my daughter and her family. I expected to have a hard time getting back in the groove after I got home. I had written 184 devotions (yipee!), but I still had 181 more to write (boo!).The first day back in my office, one thing after another distracted me. Around lunchtime, I received some very disturbing news about one of my children. I was feeling so burdened by it that writing a book seemed unimportant.
But I prayed and kept trying to work. Then an email popped up in my inbox. I could see that it came through my website so I assumed it was positive feedback on one of my other two devotional books. “Thank you, Lord!” I said. “I can really use some encouragement.”
I opened the email. A man had written to tell me that my first book is garbage and promotes ignorance. He called people like me an obstacle to reason and demanded that I stop spreading lies. He was especially offended by a devotional where I interpreted Jesus’s statement that no one comes to the Father except through him to mean, well, no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). He ended by expressing his hope that I die soon. (On his website he describes himself as an atheist/agnostic.)
At first, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. But gradually, I felt strengthened by the hateful email. Jesus warned that the world will hate his followers. Paul predicted that people would stop listening to the truth. Why should I be surprised by such a reaction?
A few days later, another email from my website popped up. This one was the opposite extreme, from a couple reading my first devotional book for the second year in a row. They compared me to the biblical writers (WHAT?) and said they were glad that “God’s rainbow shines around my desk.”
Same book, totally opposite reactions. The contrast reminded me that I shouldn’t take everything people say to heart–good or bad. We writers live with the possibility of editors’ rejections, negative reviews, and poor sales. We also can experience lavish praise from readers, writing awards, and maybe even a spot on the bestseller list. But what matters most is what God says about our work.
As long as we’re faithful to work hard, do our best, share his truth, and tell the stories that He’s laid on our heart, we can look forward to a positive review from Him. What could be better than hearing the words in Jesus’ parable that were spoken to a servant who made good use of what his master gave him: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23 NIV)