NOTE: My computer has been down for repairs for two weeks. Although I lost some valuable files, praise God, I’m now back up and running again!
At a writer’s conference, I participated in last winter, I saw a fellow author wearing a T-shirt emblazoned as follows: “10,000 Words – One Day!” Is this guy bragging? I wondered, Or is this his goal?
Ten-thousand words is the equivalent of fifteen of my weekly InSights & OutBursts blog posts. That’s a lot of words! For years, I have been keeping track of all my major writing, not just blog posts, but letters, stories, prayers and diary notes. My goal is 1,000 a day, 7,000 a week and 30,000 a month. I usually surpass my monthly goal, except during vacation or when I have trouble with my laptop. (Like just recently!)
In June, with a travel-filled summer vacation looming ahead, I was aware of numerous auto-biographical stories rolling around in my head. So, having talked it over with Jo, my partner in everything I do, and with Jesus, the Source of these stories, I committed to meet this 10,000 words goal, not just one day but several days in a row. I had no idea if I could do it. I might run out of stories to write, or get physically or mentally exhausted. I just didn’t know. But I did know it would take intense, uninterrupted concentration, so I made a plan.
The following Monday morning I set up and plugged in our motor home behind the barn on a friend’s farm. No Internet, phone shut off, and several prominently displayed “Do Not Disturb” signs to keep me focused. By 9:00 a.m. I was writing. After a couple of hours, I went for a brisk thirty-minute walk, then wrote again. I kept doing that and by evening, I had logged 10,000 words of first draft, original writing, and had walked five miles. Yippee!
The next day, I did it again! And the next! By Friday, late afternoon, I had written 50,000 words, and walked 25 miles! I felt great, both in body and in mind, satisfied that I had a good first draft start on my next book of God-honouring stories. Also, I was very surprised. I had no idea I could do this. I hope to do this again after summer, I thought, as I drove home with gratitude to Jesus in my heart.
How to Surprise Ourselves
We all know that our enemy, Satan, loves to discourage God’s people from using our talents and native abilities to accomplish things that bring God honour—things we may have done successfully in some small measure, but hesitate to do in a major way. Sometimes he fills our hearts with a false humility, and makes us think, Oh, I could never do a job that big!, blotting out of our minds the Scripture that says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I have leaned on that affirmation numerous times in our decades of ministry. Translating a collection of stories from the life of Jesus is one thing, but to tackle the translation of Romans is quite another.
It’s one thing to lead a Bible study in a small group, home meeting, but quite another to travel to a foreign country, and speak ten times at a deeper-life conference to a large congregation, through interpreters. That is certainly another case of needing to lean strongly on Jesus’ strength. And being surprised at the positive result!
Many of us would happily take a Saturday to help a neighbour or a church member renovate his basement, or fix up his garage. But what about going on a two-week missions trip at our own expense and be part of a construction crew to build a church somewhere on the mission field?
Others of us routinely cook meals for our families and occasional guests. What about leading a team of volunteers to prepare 300 meals for destitute, homeless men and women once a week?
Most of us church-going folk put something into the offering plate each Sunday. But how about committing to give a substantial amount regularly to a special project, becoming partners with a missionary, or helping to get a major missions program started?
To surprise ourselves by accomplishing a great task for God requires commitment, and reliance on God’s Word. May God daily remind us that we really “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
But first of all, we need an inspiring vision—maybe from a T-shirt!