Friday, 14 June 2013

Blockage Removal

Writer's block is a terrible thing. Those of you out there who have been following my recent ramblings will have probably guessed by now that I have been suffering from just such an episode. Every time I have sat at my desk to pen some pithy lines, describe my recent activities, or merely attempt to communicate a thing or two about my day, I have simply stared into space, or more frustratingly, I have typed a bunch of prose that was simply unworthy of reading. Most of it was barely intelligible and would have been a clear waste of minutes of your lives had any of you had the misfortune of logging on.

The worst of it was that I have been very busy with a whole range of jobs and distractions over the past few weeks. I have had groups out ghyll scrambling, abseiling, rock climbing and walking. I have been out looking for the wonderfully elusive Roebuck, and the young Gunnar has been dazzling me with his trainability and overall giftedness. In church life preaching to the faithful has been exciting and stimulating, and I have had a couple of bookings to talk about my recently published book. I am also going to be teaching for a week at Capernwray Hall at the end of the summer. You can see a preview of this event by clicking here.

So, how do I get over this writer's block? Paradoxically, by writing of course, which sounds glaringly obvious. Even if I write drivel and then delete it, it is important for me to carry on thrashing away at the keyboard. As I realised this, it began to dawn on me that the same is true of other aspects of my life:-
  • When I cannot climb a certain grade or type of route I still keep climbing. Sometimes I go elsewhere and have a change of scene, but I still keep going out on the hill.
  • When I go out every day for a week and do not see any deer I keep on going out, analysing what aspects of my hunting I may have become sloppy at in order to improve my technique and get back on to the beasts.
  • When I swim for a couple of hundred yards in the lake and feel like my lungs are about to explode, I assess what I am doing wrong so that I can get back in to going for a few miles at a time, rather than quitting and going home to a log fire and a cup of tea. I get out there again and push through the problems until I come out of the other side, wiser, more able, and more confident.
In my Christian walk, I find I have seasons of great joy, great revelation and enormous productivity, both personally in my pursuit of holiness and being more Christ-like, and also corporately as I see those around me growing through the ministry of the church and the ministry of preaching that God has given me. At other times I do not see, feel, or experience any of that productivity. Indeed, there are times of great darkness and loneliness, dotted with feelings of isolation, misunderstanding; a sense of worthlessness and a complete lack of success, or so it appears. These are the times of my spiritual "writer's block" and it is important that I see them as such, and rather than give up and retreat to the log fire of my (usually self-pity filled) own little world, I push through this, seeing it as preparation for the next step of maturity in my Christian life.

I wonder if any of you are in such a season as a Christian? Or is it just me and I have just made the massive error of writing in cyberspace that as a minister I have difficult times (good grief Fralick, call yourself a pastor?) Perhaps you do not claim to be a Christian but you can relate to times of drudgery or low points. At least now you can understand that becoming a Christian does not preclude the possibility of having internal struggles and times of feeling deflated. The difference for me as one who follows Jesus, is that I can stand on many promises contained in the Bible. In difficult times, when inspiration has dried up, when trials are coming thick and fast and when my usual skills seem to be failing me or have temporarily left me, I can look at the book of Romans chapter 8 verse 28, which says,
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
That means ALL things, the good, the bad and the ugly things of life. God knows all of our ways, all of our problems and all of our struggles. For those whom He has called He will make everything work out for good. Absolute good. His perfect design and purpose.

Sometimes I despair at my own frailties and failings. I dislike being poor at something that I want to be good at. I dislike intensely that I cannot climb very well, that my body movement is stiff and lacks flair. I am highly irritable when I cannot figure out how to find an elusive deer that I need to cull for the good of the rest of the herd. I become despondent when, as a person who claims to be a writer, I cannot pen a single cohesive sentence in weeks of effort.

And most of all, I am excruciatingly embarrassed as a pastor, when I seem to have little or no spiritual vibrancy or Christian zeal in my life, robbed of joy and even love for a time. However, all of that vibrancy, zeal and joy comes rushing back in when I stand on His word, and refuse to let go of the promises contained therein: "And we know..." It will all work out for good, not because of who I am and what I can or cannot do, but because of who He is and what He has already done! He has paid for all of my failures, wrong doings, sins, crimes or whatever other words you can call them, and He has set my path towards Glory...and He can keep me on that path until the day I see Him face to face and He says, "well done, good and faithful servant..."

That'll do for me. How about you?

Ah, life's not so bad after all, writer's block or not!