Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Best Writing Comes from a Prison Cell


It's a quiet morning, I'm sipping my coffee from the mug given to me by my friend, DonnaPyle. And while I'm having my morning brew, I'm working through her  newest study, The God of All Comfort.

This day's lesson was about how losers are better givers. It's such a great study as it uses real life stories from various people Donna interviewed for each section of study.

This verse jumped out to me: 
"Those things were important to me, but now I think they are worth nothing because of Christ. Not only those things, but I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him, I have lost all those things, and now I know they are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ and to belong to him. Now I am right with God, not because I followed the law, but because I believed in Christ. God uses my faith to make me right with him." Philippians 3:7-9 (NCV)

Now, I've read it before. But this morning it stopped me in my tracks.

I'm not what you would consider a materialistic person. I'm not a fan of shopping. I don't care if I have designer clothes. I only know some of the names because characters in my manuscripts wear them. I don't try to keep up with Jones'. I laugh behind the backs of those who do. (That' s probably wrong.)

I do like nice things. I like my house to feel warm and inviting. But what I do whine about most, is writing space. "Lord, I can't wait for us to move because I know you'll provide me with a room of my own. A place where I can study, pray, and write without interruptions from people or the TV."

Right now, I have a nice desk and sweet office chair in the corner of my bedroom. I have my dry erase board and bulletin board tacked up. But I share my bedroom with my husband and that's where he likes to watch TV. It's where he gets ready for work. I've become accustomed to ear buds, but sometimes, it irritates me that he's there. Isn't that selfish? It is. You can agree.

As I read this verse this morning, it struck me that Paul penned his best work and spent some of his most intimate time with the Lord in shared prison cells with little to no lighting. And it's possible he had crummy eye sight. He wrote in chains. Seated on hard, cold, rock. No cushiony chair. No heating pad for a bad back--and most of the time he was bruised, beaten and bloody. Always interrupted by other prisoners and guards. Nothing to tune them out. And he wouldn't have wanted to, as it would have been a missed opportunity to share Christ Jesus with them.

No physical comfort.

But he was content. He was doing what he loved. And it didn't matter where he did it. As long as he had two hands and something to write with and on, he had peace.

Paul didn't have a laptop, iPad, or iPhone that helped him with his social media efforts. He didn't have scrolls at his finger tips to reference what he was talking about. He knew it from memory.

Having those things are a blessing. Blessings that should humble our hearts and be used to glorify Him. Blessings that can go at any minute through theft, fire, or small children with wandering hands. Or adults with butter fingers (not the candy).

Jesus stays. He can't be stolen away, burned off, cracked, broken, or lost. And truly, He's the greatest reward. He offers gifts that last.

I had a wonderful wake-up call this morning. A refocus. And if God decides to bless me with a home office all to myself, I won't say no. But I'll see it for what it is. A blessing. Not a necessity.


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What about you? Do you need a nudge every once in awhile to bring you back into focus on what is a need and what is an added blessing?
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**photo credit freedigitalphotos

38 comments:

  1. I absolutely need nudges. I often pray that if I'm on the wrong path that God will slam a door in my face because sometimes I'm not so great at taking hints.

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    1. I ask for slammed doors too, just not in my face. That hurts. :)

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  2. You nailed me on this one! I don't have an office yet, and I'm often trying to find a quiet spot and sticking my headphones in with lots of loud sighs. And yes, I've been known to even roll my eyes at Hubby for being in the room, so thanks for the bit-o-conviction with my coffee this morning. It was needed:)

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    1. Me too! We'll have to remind each other to chill out and relax. :) Glad you got what you needed this morning.

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  3. Nope, dont need nudges...I need shoves! And God is pretty good at giving me those. :) I'm often awestruck by Paul and his writing and where he did his writing. How does such beauty come from such a dark and painful experience? Well...I know HOW! But still...poor Paul. :)

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    1. I know. I've cried many times reading about him and then shaking my head in shame at my spoiledness. Is that a word? Thank God for mercy and grace!

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  4. Oh yes! I need those nudges. Actually, like Lacie said, sometimes I need shoves. Haha! It's so easy to get entrenched in an "I need this, I need that, me, me, me" attitude. Ridiculous. I love that God is faithful to keep nudging and keep pushing...he doesn't give up on us. I love that!

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    1. I love that He doesn't give up on us either, or I'd been out long ago!

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  5. I do, Jessica! I find myself whining all the time about the situation God has placed me in. Why can't I have a normal life? Why did you choose me for this task? Is it too much to ask just to be able to sleep without people yelling and galloping down the stairs next to my room every morning at the crack of dawn??? (I'm used to living with just hubby and a baby, not eight other very loud people.) But you're so right--Paul did the Lord's work and made the best of a very horrible situation. My circumstances aren't anywhere near as bad as a 1st century prison cell, so I need to suck it up, count my blessings, and do what God has called me to do. Cheerfully. :-)

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    1. Me too, Gwen! But I'll still pray for some peace and quiet for you. We do need that on occasion. :)

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  6. Awesome post! Anna Marie has been reading the book of Acts and today she told me about how in Acts 21:13 Paul said that he was willing to be injured or even die for the Gospel. We talked about how brave he was, and I marveled that we are so free from that danger in our country today. No matter how discouraged I get, I can remember that, if nothing else, I have that much security. Thank God for perspective!

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    1. I love that she's reading her Bible and actually taking stuff away from it at a young age! That's awesome!

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  7. I'm trying a new "trick" today, so let's see if I can get WP and Blogspot to speak the same language. ;)
    ----
    Paul is one of my favorite Bible heroes. When I'm having an off day and full of complaints, God brings Paul to mind every single time. He has a way of humbling us, yes?

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    1. I'm just thrilled you can actually comment! Yay! He does have a way of humbling us. Big time.

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  8. No, I don't, Jessica, because God richly blessed me this past week to do just that. I agree with you--it's amazing what we think we need and how, in the snap of a finger, God reveals what we really need.

    I hope you get that writing space. Something tells me you will :)

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    1. :) Thanks, Jill! And yes, I love the humbling experience when He shows us what we really need vs. what we think we do. Great insight!

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  9. I feel like what Gwendolyn said--I also find myself complaining and wishing for different circumstances...a dishwasher that works, an oven that works (you can tell we're having large appliance difficulties). But after our 10-day power blackout, in which we were scraping by, I realized I can live with a lot LESS, and as long as my kids are provided for, I'm okay. And Jessica, I don't like shopping either--totally with you on that!

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    1. Wow! 10 days. Instead of shopping, you and I can just go out for coffee! The good kind they can make when the power is on.

      I bet you did learn how to live with a lot less. That reminds me of a Blackstock book. Last Light. Did you read it?

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  10. It's so amazing to see how God's using this new study. I love your analogies here, Jess. As writers, we like a comfy place with Starbucks nearby to be productive. Paul didn't even have what we would consider the basic necessities. Although I'm getting better about discerning between needs and wants, sometimes I jump right off the ledge into superfluous comfort grabbing. Thanks so much for getting these rusty brain cells pumping again this morning! Love you, FIEND!

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    1. Love you too, fiend and I am loving your Bible Study!

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  11. Sometimes a nudge and sometimes a huge shove. God takes care of both at the appropriate times. Thanks for the nudge today.
    ~ Wendy

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    1. :) So true. He knows when we need what and with how much force!

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  12. I think I have that same wonderful coffee mug...

    Awesome thoughts this morning, Jess. I love when God gently nudges my elbow in the right direction, although, I have had - as Wendy put it - "a huge shove" every now and then.

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    1. Same here. Many times, He simply guides. Like you said, with the elbow. Love that!

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  13. Um, you pretty much gave me chills this morning!! How many times do I think, "If only..."? Way. Too. Many. Thanks for your honesty. It makes me miss you even more! Wah!

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    1. I miss you tons, Linds! Glad I could bless you this morning. :)

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  14. I have a good friend who is EXTREMELY ill. Like, he really should be in a hospital!! But they don't have health insurance. He and his wife have alot on their plates.
    A few weeks ago I had a no good, very, really bad day. Like, a move to Australia kind of bad.
    He allowed me to pour my heart out. Then he picked me up, cheered me up and sent me on my way again.

    He NEEDS to STAY ALIVE. I WANTED to FEEL better. He said "my problems are mine, you're still allowed to have a bad day and not feel guilty".

    Talk about grace.

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    1. Wow. That is amazing! And indeed: Talk about grace.

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    2. Wow. That is amazing! And indeed: Talk about grace.

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  15. Wow, powerful words, Jessica. (says the girl who is "working" at the kitchen table) Yep, I'd love to have my own writing space someday too, but thinking about Paul pretty much makes me feel like a selfish dork. I needed to read this.

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    1. I hear ya. That's how I felt. Perfectly put: selfish dork. And I giggled too. :)

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  16. Jessica,

    Thank you for the reminder - I always think of Paul asking Timothy to bring him his cloak and his parchments when he comes because winter is setting in and he's alone in the dungeons. I cry. And then I thank God for whatever corner I can find in my cozy little home.

    Spot on, today, Jessica.

    Blessings,
    Becky

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    1. Thanks, Becky. I'm sitting here picturing Paul asking Timothy for items, simple items just to keep warm. Thanks for more perspective!

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  17. Excellent post, Jessica! I must confess that sometimes I need a slap upside the head to knock some sense into me. Like you I am not into labels or shopping. But lately, I'm into cars. I so want a car that runs for awhile without something going wrong...something in the same century that we are living in. 4 cars and none of them are earlier that 1999. Sigh...

    Oh my...am I slipping into envy?

    I should never complain...three out of the four cars were given to us. How sad is it that I would ever long for a newer car?

    God blesses me in so many ways, I should never complain.

    Thank you for the reminder, Jessica. I love your heart.

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    1. I love your heart too, Sherrinda. No matter what you say whether in a post or a comment, it shines through.

      God knows what we need and supplies it. Love you!

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  18. Yup! Sometimes I need to be jolted into joyful appreciation of all I have. Spending time wanting and waiting and playing the woe-is-me game is such a waste.

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    1. So right, Keli. It is a waste and I've been guilty of wasting precious time. :) Thanks for coming by today!

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  19. WOW! This is so good, Jessica! Count me in on one who needs some nudging at times. How often I've caught myself and said, "Wow, my perspective is off in the ditch!"

    Thanks so much for sharing this. : )

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