Yesterday, in my new series, Law & Gospel for Writers, I introduced a few distinctions about the Law and asked whether you are thinking in terms of enough. Today, in Part II, a central concept will be binding. Are you binding yourself under rules? Are you sometimes tempted to think that being bound is actually better, more productive, or more successful?
Again, if any part of this gives you pause, let me know. Let’s discuss it and I’ll be happy to amend what I’ve written or reassure you of the power, grace, and full-coverage of our Lord and Savior’s merciful salvation and cleansing! These posts aim to air things good and helpful to hear, hopefully to strength us in our expression and solace in the “consolation of the brethren” among fellow writers.
Law & Gospel for Writers, Part II
Let’s quickly summarize our previous post: As sinners, we cannot fulfill the Law. Yet, Jesus fulfilled the Law for us! The Law is good, but life under the law for sinners is a burden too heavy to bear. While we may twist and strain the Law in our lives in pursuit of being enough, Jesus Christ has already fulfilled the Law. He offers us everything we need—and I do mean everything: forgiveness, new life/fresh starts, identity, solace, serious thoughts, better perspective, etc.! Yes, love and serve, but, no, don’t look to yourself rather than God’s gracious gift(s). And, both Law and Gospel, affect us in every area of our life, even if we sometimes compartmentalize certain bits and pieces!!
Today, please consider if you feel bound. And, what binds you? Is it God’s Law or something self-imposed? I think sometimes people underestimate how much, and how often, they bind themselves.
I suspect it is due to the nature of sin. Binding feels like control . . . at first, but it ends up enslaving, separating, and restricting. Like it was after the fall in the garden, binding causes distance in relationships and twists the goodness of creation as we try to make things do what they were never intended to.
Have you ever written in hopes of saving a soul? It can be like trying to channel a heartfelt prayer. At the same time, if you hope to save souls with your writing, you also have to contend with the revelation that faith only comes from hearing the Word of God. Faith only comes from the Spirit, who has not bound Himself to your writing, no matter how impassioned or correct it may be.
A writer can drive himself to despair trying to accomplish what hasn’t really been given to him. But large lofty goals are not nearly the only way to bind oneself as a writer! Goodness! We could write a list!
Write Every Day
Methods can be binding! Even habits can seem to narrow one’s freedom until we’re like gears wound too tightly!
Write every day? It’s a good practice. It’s a great idea. Guarantees practice, dedication, and frankly probably helps churn out words and content without overthinking too much. I’ll lend an analogy: in theory if you weigh yourself every day you’ll get so used to the numbers that you’ll be glad when the numbers are healthy, happy when they’re improving, and perhaps breathe a sigh of renewed commitment if they go up too many days in a row.
People, let’s be serious. That is not how I react to my scale. Nor is it how I react when I hear the words, “Write every day.” I hear it as law. I hear that I am not enough, my piddly amount of writing time isn’t enough, and I am too weak and wretched to fix it myself. I hear that there are only certain ways things get done and my ways are somehow excluded.
Right Every Day
I’m not going to say, “Don’t write every day!” “Writing every day is wrong!” “People who burden others with suggestions like that are terrible!”
Those people are not terrible. They are not binding you. Rather, their words may be triggering far more within you then the people realize.
“Write every day” is fine and not writing every day is fine. What is truly RIGHT every day is that the Son of God became man for you and for me. He entered the waters of the Jordan and sanctified all baptismal waters. He suffered, died, and was buried. Then He rose again in the flesh after reconciling us with the heavenly Father–the heavenly Father who is now our own!
Your writing, and your desire to be a writer, is not a piece of you that is distant from any of this. God is giving you gifts! And, yes, you may do things with those gifts and possibly touch many, many people! Even so, God’s work will be, and should be, dominant over your own, not only on Sunday mornings, but even as you are typing into the night.
Methods can be great. But they don’t save. Practice can be extraordinarily beneficial! It just can’t compete with the free gift of God’s salvation or, frankly, many other gifts God is giving you in your life right now.
Let’s look at a few ironies. When we bind ourselves, we think and feel like we’re in control: in control of ourselves and our actions. But, being bound, lines blur. We overlook our own bindings until we trip over them. And, whether we stumble around or step proudly, we look away from God and the more important things He promises and provides in His Son.
What is it called when we cross a line? A trespass. Thanks be to God that we have one who “trespassed” on our behalf. Not by sinning in any way, but by going into the devil’s domain and taking our bindings off us, freeing us. Our God, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, sent His Son to die. And, while the devil delighted in death and betrayal, our Christ descended into hell in victory over all the judgment calls of he-who-doesn’t-deserve-a-capitalized-name!
It always strikes me that our God displays perfect irony. Perhaps it’s a personal pet-perspective of mine, but allow me a moment of humor to point something out: Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, but even He didn’t, and doesn’t, write everyday. 😀
What is far more important is that He is Right every single day, reigns every day, and even finds time to pray for us! Marvelous!
Methods, Not Madness
It seems ironic to me that “practice makes perfect” when perfect rarely exists in this world. Still, we practice!
We are given to practice. We are given to work, even to struggle, and sometimes to fall short. But let’s repent when we have bound ourselves. And, after we repent, let us praise the Lord, for only the Lord reveals sin! Even our repentance is a gift from God, given through His Word for our good in both body and soul.
Are there things that continually seem to rebind you? Does life seem to get harder when you expected it to get easier?
Me, too. Me, too, my friend. Thanks be to God that He remains at work, forgiving sins, cleansing us, enlivening our hearts, redirecting our minds, reworking our circumstances, etc. He is our very bread from heaven, coming to us as daily bread one day at a time.
How can we remind ourselves as writers of our freedom in Christ? How can we set our eyes on things above even as we set our eyes on our own words and works? Here’s a hint: it won’t be by pressing ourselves even harder to do x, y, or z! Maybe it’s a matter of receiving our rest and reassurance through God’s Word and His winsome emphasis on rest for body and soul.