by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2
Jackie lives a charmed life. Writing opportunities fall into her lap, she wakes up with creative thoughts, and she always seems to be in the right place at the right time when publishers are looking for a new project.
Seth is the same way. Big name bloggers invite him to guest blog. Focus on the Family magazine calls him for article ideas, and people line up to promote his book. Like a modern-day Midas, everything he touches goes viral.
Other writers, however, sing the chorus of the old Hee Haw song about bad luck.
This disparity begs the question, does God love some writers more than others? Like a first grade teacher, does he select a few pets on whom to bestow special lunch privileges and confine the rest to eraser duty?
The apostle Paul belongs to the ranks of Jackie and Seth. An apostolic hot shot, he hit the ground running after his dramatic conversion. Although he was late coming to faith, he quickly superseded the other apostles. Rising through the ranks like a Fortune 500 apprentice, he soon became known as ‘the apostle to the Gentiles.” He replaced frontrunner Peter and traveled the world sharing the Gospel.
Did God bestow a special measure of grace and favor on Paul? And on Jackie? And on Seth?
First Corinthians 15:10 sheds some light on the question. Listen to Paul’s words:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.”
Yes, God bestowed grace on Paul. He plucked him from the hopelessness of Pharisaical unbelief and planted his feet firmly on the Gospel of faith. He discipled him, sanctified him, and sent him out to evangelize the world. This was God’s responsibility—performing supernatural acts in Paul’s life.
But what was Paul’s responsibility?
“. . . No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
Paul worked hard—constantly, tirelessly, unselfishly. Jackie and Seth work hard, too. Jackie writes late into the night while her friends are scrolling through Facebook and reality TV. Seth attends writers conferences, helps promote others’ books, and submitted to Focus on the Family 16 times before his first article was accepted. Jackie and Seth are people of faith, but they don’t use their faith as an excuse to be lazy.
In response to their efforts, and to their faith, God bestows grace upon them. It’s a mystery, this symbiotic relationship between working hard and resting in God, but it’s the only way to live a productive Christian life.
There are at least two dangers, however, and both are extremes. The first is the mistaken notion that God does it all, and we are free to sit back and receive his gifts like a king accepting tribute from his subjects. This makes us God and him our servant.
The second is the equally false belief that it’s all up to us. We work hard. We create opportunities. Our efforts determine our success. Like the first danger, this mindset also places us on the throne, only instead of God doing all the work and us reaping all the benefits, God’s not in the picture at all.
Paul, Jackie, and Seth understand the symbiosis—that a believer is to work hard while simultaneously trusting God to lead, guide, and bless his or her efforts. A hearty dose of sweat and effort, combined with earnest, humble faith produce a grace-filled life that God is pleased to bless.
The next time you’re tempted to think another person’s writing success just fell into his or her lap, look a little closer. I bet you’ll find a whole lot of effort behind the grace they are enjoying. And if you’re looking for a success model to chart the course of your life, why not adopt Paul’s?
“I worked harder than all of them-- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).
How have you see work and prayer come together and bear fruit in your life or those around you?
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Overnight #writing success usually carries years of work & prayer behind it - @LoriHatcher2 (Click to Tweet)
Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books. Her second book, Hungry for God…Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women released in December. A blogger, writing instructor, and women’s ministry speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God…Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).