Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: War and Peace (not about the book) (07/07/11)
TITLE: Grace Under Fire
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I almost pulled the pin last week…really. Just a little tug and I could stop sweating it out, but I looked down at my treadmill’s timer and it was too early to yank out the key that shut if off. Only fifteen minutes had passed. Soon my old nemeses Guilt broke through, like a thunderhead reverberating in my ears, insisting that the prescribed time for optimal results is thirty minutes.
“I can’t do this anymore,” I cried out, arguing with Guilt that the garage, where the treadmill resides, wasn’t air conditioned…that it was the middle of summer for Pete’s sake! But did that shake her off? No! Guilt persisted in pointing out that I had barely broken a sweat.
I usually muffle Guilt by avoiding the areas in my life where she nags the loudest: Exercise, Time with the Lord and Writing. These disciplines are where she can hurt me the most, because she knows I desperately want to succeed in them. But it doesn’t matter to her. She resides in my head and eventually breaks through, hovering over me like a bad ‘thought cloud’ from a villainous tirade in a comic book, punishing me for my slothfulness.
Every morning I awake with good intentions of spending time in the word and prayer, but life sometimes takes over. Outside interference derails my good intentions. What ideally starts out as sixty minutes of quality time with God, becomes thirty, or even fifteen. Before long Guilt buzz saws through my brain with the accusation that I’m short-changing God. I can’t even pray at every stop light anymore without her incriminating boney finger pointing at me and telling me that it’s a poor substitute!
Similarly, I’m attempting to write my first novel. It’s a worthy story, but it has become the singular most difficult task I’ve ever attempted. In frustration, I’ve walked away from it more than a few times. However, my condemner drags me back each time, making sure every wasted moment of my day is played backed in HD!
I declared war on Guilt and discovered that the enemy is me! My loving but strict parochial upbringing resulted in a PhD in guilt, magna cum laude. Recently, while listening to a Christian speaker, God began to gently minister His grace to me. I learned that I’ve been trying to be too perfect. Imagine that! In trying to please God, I had set unrealistic goals for myself. He showed me that he loved me whether I spend 5 minutes with him or one hour. ‘Chewing’ on one good Bible verse, is just as admirable as reading several chapters. Also, small amounts of time spent on writing and exercising are quite alright. A little daily will get me further to my goals than quitting altogether in rebellion to the voice in my head. And, if some days I can’t accomplish this, He won’t be my accuser. He promised that His grace will be sufficient for my war-weary spirit.
I got on my treadmill today for twenty minutes – not thirty. I mulled over one Bible verse, which spoke volumes to me. And I began to write, not on my book, but on this short story, and it was a glorious day! Stinking Guilt has finally left, like a bad house guest who’d stayed too long. In her place sweet peace resides.
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