One afternoon recently, I sat down to write. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And none of it was usable.
You might be thinking right about now that I am probably being overly harsh and self-critical. But, it really did all need to be rewritten or reworked. I had some decent ideas, but when I tried to flesh them out, they just would not come together. The thoughts were scattered and incomplete. None of it was even in the “oh, this was mediocre, but at least I can still publish it” category.
But it was still writing. It was still trying. It was still practicing my writing muscles. And, finally, after several hours of thought, prayer, and effort, the work led to some solid ideas that could be more easily developed in later writing sessions.
Sometimes when I try to push the writing, things just get worse and worse. I lose whatever momentum I had, and I just become frustrated. But more frequently, if I keep trying – even if hours of my efforts end up in the “trash” – I come around to something useful and productive.
It’s against my nature to believe that something “bad” is actually productive. If it’s going to end up in the trash can, is it not a waste of time? Should I not be just giving up and pouring my effort into something more constantly productive?
That’s my inclination. And it’s a dangerous one, because I have never been able to start off with only good results. I was a toddler once who had to fall quite a few times before I walked successfully and consistently. I had to say things the wrong way before I could learn to speak properly. And, if you could only see some of my high school papers! Mom “bled” them, marking them up with a red pen until there was more red than black on the page. Ouch! But, by my senior year, the red had become much less prominent.
The failures – the bad work – morphed into successes.
I can’t help but connect this to the idea of spiritual growth. In every stage of this life, we start on the immature, failing end of faith. Yet, where else would we start? Many of the things I struggled with twenty years ago are no longer an issue. But I wouldn’t be hashing through today’s issues if it had not been for the Holy Spirit’s work in me then. There were many failures. Many attempts that ended up with me in a heap on the floor crying out to God for help. For His hand. For His mercy. For His peace. For His strength. If not for those times, would I know Him like I do today?
Sometimes, life is just bad. Circumstances hammer us. Our failures pile up. The choices of others break us.
But if we do not experience those seasons of life, how will we see the Holy Spirit produce faith in us? How will we grow closer to our Lord and Savior? The bad paves the way for Him to work for good in and through us.
Does if feel as if everything you put your hand to meets with resistance or failure? Keep working, my friend. Keep praying. Keep seeking His perfect will and wisdom. He will use this to make something good in you. What a glorious promise!