A few friends have asked me recently, “Have you stopped writing?” I’ve been blogging for a decade and have written well over 1000 articles on my own website and contributing to others, but I’ve barely written anything over the last year.
Except in my private Growth Book.
King Solomon, with his special gift of wisdom, tells us there is a time for everything. “There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7b NIV) I have been speaking on paper for a decade, but this last year has been my time to be silent. It’s not because God has been far but because suffering has been close. I’ve picked up my pen often, but the ink has been used to call out to the Lord in the darkness of night. Calling out lament. Calling out for understanding. Calling out for instruction on how to respond to the most trying of circumstances in so many directions.
On Spotify, I created a playlist called “perseverance”–an eclectic collection of songs that coach me to love strong, to forgive, to keep a soft heart toward people, to keep going when I want to throw in the towel, and to choose joy on the dark days. I have listened to these songs privately hundreds of times, begging God to turn my heart in the right direction–just me and my AirPods and Jesus.
It has been a long season of laboring, until my spiritual muscles have turned to Jell-O, to deny my own emotions about different situations and reach for obedience to God instead.
All of my writing this year has been underground, where my roots in God’s word have been growing down, down, down–searching for living water. Ann Voskamp says, in The Broken Way:
. . . you press your back up against the steadying strength of an oak tree on a humid Thursday out in some far-flung place and you look up into those tree limbs and realize half that tree is underground, and you can only see the half rooted in the light.
There is a time to do heart work that happens in the cold darkness of soil.
In being silent for so many weeks, the risk has been that maybe I will fade away as a writer. Maybe readers will stop caring, stop following, stop looking for me in their inbox. The risk is that if I am quiet for a season, no one will see me, and my little platform will crumble for my lack of presence. But Jesus constantly took this risk. He “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NIV) Jesus knew when to teach the crowds and when to get alone with his Father, not worried about the loss of time in the public eye.
There was a time for Jesus to heal people and calm seas and turn water into wine and speak eloquently, to baffle the greatest scholars.
And there was a time to withdraw.
In her book Unseen, Sara Hagerty says:
. . . there was this second storyline, the most important storyline. The first might have been “Sara published a book” . . . but the second storyline has a title that I can’t even share here or it might lose its weight and beauty. And all the images that stretch across my mind as I write about it are mostly to be shared between God and me.
This is a season of God writing my second storyline–the one I can’t even share because it’s just between God and me.
A simple question, to end this post: what is it time for in your life?
A time to be born or a time to die?
A time to plant or a time to uproot?
A time to kill or a time to heal?
A time to tear down or a time to build?
A time to weep or a time to laugh?
A time to mourn or a time to dance?
A time to scatter stones or a time to gather them?
A time to embrace or a time to refrain?
A time to search or a time to give up?
A time to keep or a time to throw away?
A time to tear or a time to mend?
A time to be silent or a time to speak?
A time to love or a time to hate?
A time for war or a time for peace?
There is a season for everything.
(Adapted from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
I pray the Lord will help you identify, receive willingly, and thrive in the season in which he has placed you.