My writing ministry file, labeled 20:24:28, holds almost 400 digital pages right now. The other day, as I finished my blog series on story motifs, I scrolled back to the beginning of the document and discovered some interesting points that I should review more often.
In a lot more areas of life, it’s a good idea to travel back to the beginning, either literally or mentally. Back to the beginning of our marriage. Back to the beginning of my career. And sometimes, back to the beginning of my journey with God.
Maybe this reminiscing stems from the occasional reminders that we’ll tie up our missionary life in Chile within just a few years. The finish line of this 40-year marathon we’ve run looms in the not-so-hazy distance. And after all, the “28” of 20:24:28 symbolizes the year I complete my threescore-and-ten.
Acts 20:24 appears in the first line of my purpose statement: “…That I might finish my course (job, assignment, book!) with joy…” As another Bible version expresses it:
“My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus…” –Acts 20:24
When I adopted that verse as “mine” while in college, I had not the remotest idea of where it would eventually take me. At that point, I little imagined the “last corner of the earth” in the remote Chiloé Islands where my missionary career first carried me.
Yet back at the beginning, I remember singing: “Jesus, I adore You, lay my life before You, how I love You…” while washing dishes, sobs mixing with the suds. In those days, it didn’t much matter whether the activity in itself was significant, because I assumed someday it would be…in God’s eyes. My genuine love made the smallest task an act of worship.
However, I’ll admit that often enough since then, I’ve thought, whispered, and even spoken aloud an entirely opposite viewpoint. I’m tempted to wonder, Has my life turned out a complete waste of effort?
But the other day, I stood rebuked. While rereading and editing Destiny at Dolphin Bay, I’ve reviewed the story of Mary of Bethany pouring out her perfume on Jesus. The main character, Melissa Travis, tells this Bible story to a group of children and then recounts it again at the inauguration of the island church in Pursuit of the Pudú Deer.
What a waste. “What a waste of valuable ointment,” the disciples said.
But no. Her extravagant love, her exuberant worship, were not a waste. Not ever. And Jesus chided those who muttered the words.
It came then as if as if He spoke to me: What has it all been about then, child? About giving a love offering…or about making a name and reputation for yourself? Was any of it really done for Me?
So if God is glorified and accepts my sacrifices as sincere worship, does it matter whether I’m praised…or validated…or memorialized?
Droplet Gift #27: I will live and serve—work, worship, read and write, sing and scrub—for love, from beginning to end.
If any other purpose exists, it will wear out LONG before the end. Continually I must go back to the beginning—figuratively, at least. For refilling, refreshing, replenishing. And just plain remembering why I am here.
“In the beginning God created…” commences God’s story in Genesis 1:1. John 1:1 retells it: “In the beginning was the Word…”
In the creation of any story, the beginning is of paramount importance. The first chapter can make or break the writer with an editor or agent. The first page can mean the difference between a reader tossing the book aside or turning the page. And ah, those first words can draw you in or pull you out of a tale.
But a story must always commence with the end in mind, because the end circles back to the beginning. And every plot point throughout the narrative bears the story goal and the writer’s vision from opening to conclusion.
“A good word makes the heart glad” –Proverbs 12:25
Back at the beginning of 20:24:28, I concocted a mission statement (for books and blogging): to inspire Christian women and girls to experience lives of joy, purpose, and fulfillment.
Bottom line, I wrote simply for the JOY of it:
- To please God and give Him joy,
- To enjoy myself,
- And to offer “joy to the world.”
Surprisingly, those original dreams, desires, and wishes require frequent reviewing. While writing is work—a challenge, an exercise, sometimes a struggle to stay in the chair—it’s supposed to be fun! I find I must head back to the beginning and reignite my love affair with words.
Looking back to the beginning, I see many miles put on in this race of life. My ambitions and plans have taken the odd detour or twisting sideroad. Perhaps I need to reimagine my bucket list more than I suspected.
I took those first steps in love, not duty. In joy, not responsibility.
In all the experiences and education gained along the way, have I learned thrift but not generosity? Prudence but not boldness, tact but not love of the truth? Have I acquired knowledge and ability without wisdom and kindness?
Those scary questions near the end should send me scampering back to the beginning. I pray to remain just as committed and curious and crazy about life today as I was at 25. I determine to keep up the fight for goodness and beauty in God’s world—and to keep it frankly fun, too. And I write to advance His kingdom—in heaven and on earth.
“Write so that heaven will be different.” –Lee Roddy
Now that I’m nearing the end of my career here, I’m winding back to the beginning. To scribble and spill out words of worship. To break beautiful boxes and fill His house with fragrance. I remember it’s not about me.
Of course, I want to impact others. But really…I came to worship.
“Now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near” (Rom. 13:11-12). Knowing the end times we live in, it makes sense to examine life in view of our calling. But so close to sunrise, who would want to turn back now?
Lord, don’t take me home… until THE END is better than the beginning.