The process of writing a novel is exciting but labor-intensive. When I finished the first draft of my novel, I was elated – for about five seconds. Then it dawned on me how much work was still ahead. The task of editing and revising lay before me like a long uphill climb. I knew I’d need help, so I joined a critique group.
Having my work dissected and evaluated by strangers was daunting, but it proved to be invaluable. Others saw things I missed, pointing out the errors as well as inconsistencies in the story. In the end, the work was much improved.
There are times when I think about trying to live my life like a true Christian and it too looks like a long uphill road. I know my weaknesses are many and my stubbornness rooted deep. I know I need help, from friends who understand and most of all from God himself. It can be daunting to ask for the kind of help I need from time to time. My pride gets in the way and I hesitate. But in the end I know it will be worth the effort.
I don’t know where I would be today if it weren’t for the help of other believers, mentors and friends who were able to say and do the right things to put me back on track or encourage me to keep going when things got a little tough.
I’m reminded of something a friend said to me once. He was a trapper and fisherman, living alone in the Yukon wilderness until he gave his life to Christ. Then he moved to town and committed his life to serving this God he was getting to know. When I asked him if it was hard to give up his old life, he said, “The bush would have been the death of me. I can’t follow Christ in a spiritual vacuum.”
Living with people can sometimes be hard. There have been times when I’ve wanted to walk away from the church and other believers, times when I’ve wanted to curl up and hibernate. But that, as my friend said, would lead to death – the death of social skills, the death of a vital connection to one another and to God. He designed us to live in communion with Him and His people. When we do, in the end, the work of our lives is much improved.
So I take to heart the scripture that says, “let us not give up meeting together … but let us encourage one another …” (Hebrews 10:25).
As we move now into the winter season and closer to the day on which we celebrate the birth of Christ, let’s also celebrate the families He has given us – the gatherings of believers – whether they be critique groups or church groups, they are families all, given to us that we might grow and accomplish God’s purposes on this earth,
“and all the more, as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25b).
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