Discouraged No More

I finally put down the book. But the tears don’t stop flowing. These tears, though, they’re tears of joy. Joy over grace—God’s grace, God’s goodness, God’s glory. Joy overflowing.

I finally finished reading of Alex Malarkey, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. Read of his accident, and surgeries, his boldness and bravery, his love for the Lord and for people. I am inspired. And though I’m already crying at this point when I read these words, the tears flow more freely now. I’m already shedding joy in salty, liquid form when I hear of God’s goodness to this boy, and the goodness of His people to this boy, and this boy seeing the goodness of God always and everywhere, inspiring others to do the same.

It hits me why I’ve picked up this book. On more than one occasion have I been compelled to pick up this book, as though there were something waiting to speak to me in the coming pages, or rather Someone, knowing they held a message I needed to hear.

I sat on the porch swing and read of prophecy in 2 Chronicles 20, led there by a concordance search of “discouraged.” Was I feeling that way this morning? Yes. So I needed to be reminded of all the places in Scripture it says not to be. Jahaziel prophesied that Judah would not be defeated by the armies that rose against it. King Jehoshaphat praised God and said, “Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” (v. 20, NIV) I remembered how young Alex had prophesied, and how what he spoke of had come to pass. It was enough, this remembrance, to compel me once again to pick up this book. To read more of prophecy? Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps what I needed to hear was unrelated. But I needed to hear it nonetheless. Was I sure that something would jump out at me at any given time that would cause me to say, “Aha! This is JUST what I needed to read!” No, not sure. But I knew I needed to be reading.

I said I was discouraged this morning, and I was. Here I am, all talk of writing, writing, writing, lately. How I believe, in part, anyway, it’s what I’m made to do, and I’m ready to pursue it, and just be faithful to write, write, write—leave the outcome to God. So I sit on the porch swing on my day off, ready to do just that—or am I? I set fingers to keys, but nothing comes. So I get caught up. Lies slither in and tell me I’m not good enough, start to choke me. Ungratefulness. Like Ann pens in A Thousand Gifts. It starts to grab hold of me, and I start to doubt His goodness. His gifting me. I try to shake it off. Pray, repent, surrender, submit—be still. Let HIS words wash over me before I try to form my own. Thumb to the back of the Book and refer to every reference that speaks against it, tells me why not to be discouraged: because He is with me. He goes before me. He’s already in the outcome; He already knew of it when He called me. It’s this search that leads me to 2 Chronicles 20, where I read of the faith and the prophecy and God keeping His Word, as He always does. And this leads me to Alex. I pick up where I left off, and read on. Page 204 is where I stop, where I know this is the something that Someone wants me to know:

(Speaking of the countless interviews Kevin, Beth and Alex Malarkey gave regarding Alex’s undergoing the same surgery as Christopher Reeves): “Another reporter with the Associated Press listened as his interview was consumed with my half-conscious son rambling on about the Pittsburgh Steelers. The reporter didn’t seem to mind. He then said something that caught me of guard. ‘You should write a book.’

‘You really think so?’

‘Yes, I do.’

‘Do you have any specific advice about the process?’ I asked.

‘Yes. Work hard and never be discouraged. That’s it.’

Good advice for just about everything in life, I thought. It was on this day that I made the decision to write a book about Alex and his experiences. I had thought about it before, but that AP reporter’s encouragement was the beginning of the book you now hold in your hand.”

The AP reporter might as well have been speaking to me. I couldn’t even muster an unspoken, “Okay, Lord. I get it. Start writing, work hard, and don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged.” Nope. I just let salty joy wash over me freely, flowing, down over freckles and now upturned corners of the mouth that doesn’t speak. But my spirit does, and rejoices in knowing this is just what it needed to know, and in knowing the One who knows just what I need to know—knows me, better than I do.

So, there it is. I’m going to write a book.

In the meantime, I’d like to try to blog more consistently. My aim? Once a week. For now. Keep your eyes peeled? I’ll try my best. And to those of you who have shown your support thus far, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It helps immensely, and means more than you will know. To know that God has used this gift thus far to bless even one of you, blesses me so. It’s why I write. All for His glory. And in the times, like today, that I have been tempted to be discouraged and allow that to keep me from writing, your encouragement to keep going has inspired me to do just that. I’m thankful for all of you.

Even today, as I write, I’ll confess: I’ve been tempted to think, “Do people really want to hear my whining? Do they really want to know about how I’m all down about thinking I can’t do this writing thing? Wahh. Yikes. Grow up a little, Tamara. There are bigger things to worry about.” And there are. Yet I could not write, or I could just not write about this specific thing and pretend like I’m never tempted to get discouraged. But the unwillingness to be transparent is part of what has kept me from writing for so long. And I know that part of the call to write is letting you all in to see. Because if me working through flaws and sin, and receiving grace and forgiveness, will in part help you to do and see the same, then it’s worth it. I must decrease, and He must increase (John 3:30). I was tempted to be discouraged. I was reminded not to be. And I share because maybe you’re tempted to be discouraged at times. I hope that by sharing with you my experience of how God can turn that around so quickly, you may be compelled to allow Him to do the same for you. When you’re tempted to be discouraged, wrongfully angry, vengeful, untruthful, _____________, let Him remind you why not to be? It’s worth it. He’s worth it. And in the end, you just might be all the more inspired to pursue what He’s called you to. All for His glory.

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