Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Character in the chrysalis: preparing yourself for your destiny


Recently I watched a message by Joyce Meyer on TV. She talked about the many people who are waiting for God to “promote” them – to open the door to their destiny. This grabbed my attention immediately. Like so many of us, I’m waiting on a dream: the dream of one day being a published author. Perhaps Joyce had some key to share about how to reach our dreams more quickly and effectively?

I turned up the volume on the TV and leaned forward slightly. Joyce pointed her finger directly at the camera, and with great intensity in her voice, she said something to this effect: “You’d better pray that God doesn’t open that door for you until you have the character to walk through it.”

That line stuck with me. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. The truth of it, however, resonated with my spirit.

Image by Nattavut, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
The blessing of the closed door

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past decade of my life banging on the closed door of publication and praying fervently for God to open it.

But am I truly ready for him to do that?

Could it be that during this waiting time, God has been protecting me from… myself? He intimately knows my weaknesses. He knows the strength of character I’ll need in order to walk through that door without self-destructing. And so, with infinite tenderness and mercy, he forces me to wait.

I’m reminded of Saul, a man promoted to kingship who lacked the character to fulfil the call on his life. His reign was characterized by jealousy, insecurity, fits of rage, and rash decisions. Reading his story is like watching a car careening out of control in slow motion. The wreck is inevitable. It’s easy for us to judge Saul – but let’s not forget: this man was called by God. Chosen. Gifted. Annointed to be king.

How many of us are called, gifted and anointed to write… and yet sabotage ourselves in the same way Saul did because we never develop the strength of character to match our gifting?

The boy who dreamed

The story of Joseph gives me hope. Like many of us, he too was a dreamer, called by God to a destiny beyond his ability to imagine. And yet, at the beginning of Joseph’s tale, we find a prideful young man who thought his dreams were all about him.
Image by sakhorn38
freedigitalphotos.net

Remember the way he boasted to his family about the dreams God had given him? Joseph thought he was pretty hot stuff. Through this attitude he demonstrated his unreadiness to step into the very destiny he was bragging about.

First, he had to be humbled and tested. Joseph needed to learn how to serve God with excellence and humility in the lowliest of positions: as a slave in a foreign land, and then a prisoner. He needed to do this even when no-one was watching and the world had seemingly forgotten his existence. He developed his character through suffering, obscurity, and endless years of waiting. And through this painful process, Joseph realised his dreams weren’t all about him. They were about what he could do to help and serve others.

When Joseph had learned this lesson – when his character finally measured up to his calling – it was then that God promoted him.

A call to character

Let’s be Josephs, not Sauls. In this in-between time of waiting on our dreams, let’s make a conscious choice to grow in character so we’re ready to step through the door of our destiny.

Here are some things to work on as we wait:

1. Pride
The world esteems people with gifts and talents, and it’s easy to get sucked into this mindset and let ourselves get a big head from our achievements or the flattery of others. But actually, we can’t take credit for our abilities. They’re a gift from God. We didn’t do anything to earn them. What we should esteem is character, because that’s something we have to work at to develop.

How we handle praise is a test. If we let it puff up our egos now in obscurity, how will we handle the praise of many? The pressure of notoriety? The Bible teaches that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Like Joseph, we won’t be promoted until we’ve learned the lesson of humility.

2. Insecurity
Paradoxically, this often goes hand-in-hand with pride. God doesn’t want us to be insecure any more than he wants us to be proud – one day up, the next day down, blown about by the winds of others’ opinions or the conflicting voices inside our own heads. He wants us to be humble and confident. Humble, because his gifts are undeserved. And confident, because He is a good God and has given us everything we need to succeed.

Saul suffered constantly from feelings of not being “good enough” to be king. He hid amongst the baggage at his own coronation ceremony. Because he was so insecure in himself, he felt threatened by anyone else who came along displaying any sort of ability or gifting. If only he had realised that his worth didn’t come from his title or his abilities as king. Our worth never comes from what we do. Our worth is inherent, because we’re children of God.

3. Jealousy
You can see already how this flows out of insecurity. It’s all too easy to compare ourselves to others on the publication journey – “She found an agent before me” or “He’s finalled in more contests.” Stop the comparison game. If we don’t nip this in the bud, later on we’ll be comparing publishing houses, advance sizes, marketing budgets, copies sold, and number of contracts. The jealousy battle won’t stop once you’re published – the stakes will just get higher, the comparisons more marked.

4. Discouragement
Likewise, this won’t stop once you’re published. I’ve heard a successful author published in the CBA say, “This industry will chew you up and spit you out.” Another one says, “Rejection doesn’t stop once you’re published. It just hurts worse.”

Our joy and contentment can’t come from our circumstances, or life will be a roller-coaster ride of disappointments. We need to learn to be content where we are before God will promote us.

In the face of rejections, can you encourage yourself in the Lord? David did this in his darkest moments before he became king. And once he learned how to do that, everything turned around for him (1 Samuel 30:6). God responds to faith and thankfulness, not fear and ingratitude.

5. Abide
Lastly, develop the ability to abide in him. Make God the center and the compass of your life. If he’s not, you’ll be thrown off course the minute the first storm hits. Do you have what it takes to ride out the rough waters of the publishing industry? With God as your center, then yes, you do. Practice this when it’s easy, so you have the steady strength to stand firm when it’s hard.


Image by Christian Meyn,
courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
The chrysalis

The chrysalis is a chamber of waiting. A place of transformation.

In the chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly, the caterpillar literally dissolves into slime. It has to die to itself in order to enter the next phase of its destiny.

What are you doing in the chrysalis to prepare your character so you’re ready to step into your destiny?










Karen Schravemade lives in Australia. When she's not chasing after two small boys or gazing at her brand-new baby girl, she spends her spare minutes daydreaming about the intricate lives of characters who don't actually exist. Find her on her website, on Twitter or getting creative over at her mummy blog.


22 comments:

Sherrinda said...

Karen, this post is brilliant! It spoke to my heart more than you know, because in all truth, I need work in every single area that you mentioned. The closed door can be such a blessing and I pray that we all learn from them for the Glory of God.

Karen Schravemade said...

Sherrinda, ME TOO - I definitely need to work on all those areas. I'm so glad this spoke to you. God's been speaking to me also as I wrote this post.

Jill Kemerer said...

Karen, I nodded throughout this post. I think often of Joseph, his faith, his strength, and his wait.

Sometimes God takes a strong-willed, want-it-now gal like me and gives me one purpose. To wait.

Praying for the wait to end soon--for both of us!

Karen Schravemade said...

Jill, yes, I love the story of Joseph. It's spoken to me often over the years.

I have a feeling that if we prepare our hearts right, that open door will be worth the wait. :-) Praying for you, as well!

Jennifer K. Hale said...

Karen,
Beautiful post today. Thanks for sharing. I needed to read it!

Pepper said...

amazing post, Karen.
Simply amazing!
There is such spiritual depth (and a few pride- kickers) in this.

Pride. Ohhh, ugly word when focusing inward instead of upward.

What a great reminder to keep our focus on the true God, instead of the little gods we usually pacify ourselves with. They will never be enough - whether it be our own glory or self-promotion, publication...whatever.

This hits at the core of me! Wow!

It's also a comfort to keep our focus on Him. We are loved. Adored. beautiful in His eyes.
Thank you for reminding us that His timing, His plan, His door is the perfect timing, path, and way.

B. B. Granville said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. B. Granville said...

Karen,

Thank you for this thoughtful and prayerful post. It is very timely as I’ve recently been struggling with the idea that my passion and desire to write is more than my talent for writing but an opportunity and means for God to demonstrate His love for me through it. That by stretching my talent – peeling back the layers – exposing the depth – the gift of talent itself, He is shaping my character and drawing me closer to Him. Your post is an affirmation of what my heart has been meditating on for some time. I plan to save it in my inbox to reflect on it and with your permission would like to post a link to it on my blog. What greater satisfaction can we find than to look to His word for examples of what He has done in the lives of others and to know by sharing His word the same is true today.

B.B.
http://bbgranville.blogspot.ca/

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Powerful post, Karen! Certainly can identify with the truths you spoke of here.

I laughed with a friend on the phone recently how I'm thankful my Google alerts is a little funky. I get notified whenever I'm mentioned but I can't for the life of me figure out who did the mentioning or where...I think this is God protecting me. From myself. ;-)

~ Wendy

Carolyn Byers Ruch said...

Excellent writing. Excellent content. I'm sharing with many. We all struggle with this, writers and non-writers.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Karen, thank you for this post! I know for a fact God has protected me from getting ahead in this industry before my time. That he has used this time to help me grow and become the writer I am now. We all have periods of waiting, it's what we do during that waiting that makes us who we become later on.

Melissa Tagg said...

This is such a wonderful post. That Joyce Meyer...I love how she tells it like it is. There's definitely been times in my life when I've wondered WHY in the world God waited so long to open a particular door...but then I look back and can see all the stuff He was doing in me, the ways He was preparing me...His timing always has a reason!

Jeanne T said...

Karen, as has already been said, this post resonated with me! Isn't God gracious to keep doors closed until He knows we're ready to walk through them and live out our callings well? I've struggled with (and will no doubt have to struggle with again) every area you mention. Your words were profound and gentle.

In answer to your question, I am learning craft, but even more, I'm learning to trust in and depend on God for my identity and value. If I look to anyone else to help with these, I'll end up off the mark God has for me.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us today!

Karen Schravemade said...

Jennifer: thanks, friend. I need to remind myself of these things often.

Pepper: little gods - I like that. So very true. Self-glory can't hold a candle to the soul-satisfaction that comes from glorifying God.

Karen Schravemade said...

B.B. Granville: Yes, He has so much to teach us through this journey. Thanks for your thoughtful reflections. I'd be honoured to have you post a link to your blog.

Wendy: Love it! I'm still pondering my stance on Google Alerts and holding an internal debate over whether or not I'll read reviews when my time comes. Every part of me knows it would not be a good thing for me - but the self-control required to not check would be nearly impossible. I'd be so consumed with curiosity. Something to pray about.

LornaFaith said...

Great post and wonderful reminder :-) It's funny, I just posted about Joseph on my blog this past week too. I feel like I have sooo much to learn about growing our character and becoming the person God wants me to be :-) Abiding...

Karen Schravemade said...

Carolyn, thank you so much! I appreciate your sharing this post. I really feel it's one of the most important lessons I've ever had to learn. If it helps others in the same way, I'd feel privileged.

Cindy, such wise words. What we do in the waiting is so important.

Karen Schravemade said...

Melissa, Joyce Meyer is awesome, isn't she?! And yep - hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Jeanne, thanks so much for your kind words. I love what you have to say about finding identity in God.

Karen Schravemade said...

LornaFaith, I love those God-coincidences. :-) "Becoming the person God wants me to be" - that's my recurring prayer and desire. I pray those words nearly every day. So cool that you used that same phrase. :-)

Krista Phillips said...

Oh my goodness, what a FABULOUS post, Karen! I much needed this reminder!!!!!!!

Karen Schravemade said...

Thanks, Krista! Mwah!!

Christy Truitt said...

You're amazing....