Living in Faith, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Acting with tenacity – thanks to Amelia Earhart

For the last several years, I’ve bought a daily tear-off calendar for my desk; one was Bible verses, one was great books to read, one was beautiful photos. This year’s is called “Seize the Day” and has inspirational quotes by people ranging from professional athletes to authors, historical figures to models, TV personalities to scientists.

Last weekend’s quote was from Amelia Earhart:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity.”

Do you find that to be true? I often do, especially when the decision is faith-based.

I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to be the person He wants me to be. I want to go where He wants me to go.

But sometimes I’m so intent on doing what God wants that I end up doing nothing – because I want to be extra, extra sure that whatever I do is what He wants. So I pray about it. And I have conversations with God about it. And I pray about it some more. And I ask Him to help me know which way He wants me to go.

And in the course of all of this, I often stay right where I am instead of taking even a small step in one direction or the other.

As if He can’t readjust my path to get me where He wants me to be if my first few steps are in the wrong direction (because He definitely can).

As if sometimes both options I’m considering might not both be acceptable to God and usable by Him (because they can be).

As if I’m not old enough to know that sometimes He might just want me to take a tiny step of faith before putting all the pieces in place for me (because He’s done it before).

Amelia Earhart quote about tenacity
Was Amelia Earhart thinking about faith when she said that? My guess is probably not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still apply it to our lives as Christians.

Deciding to follow Christ is a one-time action: once you profess your belief in Him as Savior and ask Him to come into your heart, it’s done forever. But we still have to decide day after day – sometimes minute to minute – to put our belief into practice.

Following Christ can be hard. Living as a Christian in today’s world can be hard. We need to be intentional about following Him because it’s not going to happen if we stop paying attention. And we need tenacity – persistence, determination, doggedness – to help us stay connected with God and focused on Him instead of everything that pops up on our path.

Tenacity helps us keep moving forward in the direction we believe God is calling us, even if it’s just one tiny step at a time. Because then one tiny step can become two tiny steps, and two can become three, until we find ourselves taking slightly bigger steps as our confidence in following God grows.

A few blog posts back I wrote about the focus words we received at church in January and that mine was “faithfulness.” I like “faithfulness” and believe it’s a great word for any of us to focus on. I definitely need to, especially during a year as crazy as this one.

But the more I think about “tenacity,” the more I like all the ways it can apply to my faith. My spiritual life could probably use some tenacity, some persistent holding onto God.

David wrote about this in Psalm 63:8. Many translations use variations of “my soul clings to you” or “I stay close to you.” But this is one time when I really like the King James translations:

  • My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me (NKJV)
  • My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. (KJV)

And then there’s the Contemporary Amplified version:

  • My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.

I like the verb picture of following close behind God. It shows that I’m not just holding on for the ride, I’m chasing after God. And I’m following hard, making it a priority and trying to stay right with Him instead of just wandering along at my own place, checking occasionally to see that He’s still in sight.

Intentional following. Dogged, persistent, determined following. Tenacious following. Because it’s worth the focus and the fight to stay right with Him, wherever He’s leading me to go.

That’s how I want to be. What about you?

Your turn: What keeps you holding on and following hard after God?

Monday Musings, Scripture verses, Writing life

Shifting Gears

I’ve been writing fiction (or rather, learning how to write fiction) for about 5 years now. It’s an ever changing, always challenging part of life, which I love. And, for me at least, part of that “ever changing” has meant I’ve dabbled in genres from young adult to suspense to contemporary women’s fiction to historical romance. I really thought I’d landed with historical romance for good when God pointed me in that direction almost 3 years ago.

And then He changed the plan.

When I first started writing fiction, I began working on a story about a middle school girl named Paige. I joined an online critique group, learned a lot from those wonderful folks, and entered the Genesis, a contest for unpublished novelists through American Christian Fiction Writers. Much to my surprise (and glee!) my entry was one of the finalists in the young adult category. Now was it really “young adult,” with Paige being in middle school? No, but the Genesis didn’t have a category for younger readers so I went with what they had.

My entry went to the next level of judging, where a published author and an editor from one of the biggest Christian publishers read my measly pages. The author gave me some great suggestions but also heaped on the encouragement. The editor was much more succinct in her comments. So to-the-point that I nearly cried. That I said things about her opinions that I probably shouldn’t have. That I decided I had no business writing for kids.

So, once I recovered from that critique and started writing again a few months later, I ran in the opposite direction. I wrote the beginnings of all sorts of stories for all sorts of genres but never finished any of them. I learned a lot, so I don’t think of all those pages as wasted words. I was finally hunkering down with a story I thought I would see through until the end, and that’s when God let me know He had something different in mind.

Early this spring, I started feeling nudges toward writing for kids again. The nudges grew and things that made me think about it seemed to be everywhere I turned. I started praying about it and the feeling just got stronger. I got brave and pulled out that very first manuscript to see if what I’d written might be salvageable. I asked God for some very specific things if He wanted me to shift my focus to kids. He gave them to me in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. Now I’m following Him and writing for kids. And, yes, I’m loving it. 🙂

All this is to say — we never know when God is going to steer us in a new direction, no matter how good the path we’re on might look from our point of view. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). And I must say, although this plan to write for kids isn’t what I had in mind at the moment, it’s been a lot of fun.

Three things I’ve learned along the way: 1) Sometimes where we start is where God wants us to be in the end. 2) Writing for middle grade kids is more fun than I remembered. 3) When those little nudges and inklings seem to start coming from nowhere, I’m wise to pay attention and pray over them.

What about you? What are some things God has been teaching you lately? Let’s make this a week when we’re open to those nudges and learn whatever He’s trying to teach.