Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To Toil, Or Not To Toil: That Is The Question.



I was ready to upload an article here this morning. I had poured hours into what was 600 words ready to go – or was it? Reading again I wondered what on earth was in my coffee that day! Oh dear, why did I leave it to the last minute to recheck it? I know I was busy – right?

This is a jumbling mess - what do I do now? I’ll have to scrap it and start again. Maybe the Lord wants me to write something else? Hey, that happened to my pastor this week and what he said was great!”

“Striving again Kayleen? You don’t have time to create a whole new article. Do you really want to be doing this when you have so much to do already?  Should you have had that coffee break this morning - now how are you going to fit the day in? Blah,blah, blah!” 

“STOP!” “Whose voice am I to listen to anyway?” “Not one of doubt or guilt that’s for sure!”

Heavy Laden: My interpretation of Matthew 11: 28-30
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

On some days the ideas seem to write themselves, whilst on other days, I think my mind is too busy to focus on the keyboard. Writing takes considered time and then there is rewriting - a necessary part of the process. I am discovering that an over-busy life can sabotage creative endeavours such as writing. Busyness can interrupt the flow, inviting rushed work and shortcuts, or even worse: an overdose of procrastination that can kill an assignment all together. I nearly didn’t upload anything today but I persisted.

I never feel creativity is active toil even when I am reworking, but in some life situations (lately) toiling seems to be central and unconducive to creativity. If I am too anxious about the challenges going on around me it shuts down my creative side and literally blocks productivity creating feelings suffocating oppression, helplessness and unworthiness but today I have good news.

This morning I had a coffee with a very wise friend and found myself inadvertently sharing my bemusement. She discerned something of incredible value, “Do you know what the real biblical meaning of evil is?” she said. I thought it meant malicious intent, and generally associated it with an attack from an enemy, but I was wrong. 

“Evil” or “wicked” is almost always translated asponêros (poneros). This means “oppressed by toil,” “burdened,” and “worthless.”  Of things, it means “toilsome,” “painful,” and “grievous.” In a moral sense, “worthless,” “base,” and “cowardly.” “Evil” in the sense of malicious, very seldom used is kakia and the term used for “corrupt” or “rotten,” another uncommon term is sapros.

Historically, writing was never been a fluid talent of mine but I believe it is God inspired, directed, and an anointed passion in my life so I don’t really stress over it. I know it is a developing expression, and technically in need of growth,  but something God wants to use and will develop more and more over time. Demands on my time elsewhere are more of a puzzle to me; overwhelming at times and can feel incredibly oppressive.

I find myself toiling in particular challenges with our two youngest boys, heath issues and various financial and time demands that seems beyond our resources or perceived strength. Unintentionally striving provokes a sense of inadequacy. When I can’t meet the demands on me personally I find myself wondering, “Am I enough?” Does this sound like the description of evil above to you? 

What my friend shared today spoke volumes to me. While I am still figuring out what to illuminate and what to keep on my agenda I must guard against the deception of busyness and seek a healthier lifestyle to be effective in the kingdom. Stress is a weapon of the devil and doesn’t belong in our lives. Jesus asked God to deliver us from evil[i] and says his yolk is easy and burden is light[ii]. I have to acknowledge that if I am toiling in this way and it is interfering with my creativity that I have something God needs to show me – bondage to loose. I am confident that if I am to have the time to pursue a creative path like writing that I am to do so with balance and not to toil.

In this season of my life I thank God for the gift that is writing because through it, (like these words today) I can explore new revelation in addition to creative imagination in story. As long as I keep looking to “the Spirit to guide me into all truth[iii]” I will gradually unearth the answers, overcoming obstacles and embrace balance and surely my writing will follow me to a place of harmony.


[i] Matthew 6:13
[ii] Matthew 11:30
[iii] John 16:13

Kayleen West is a children's book Author and Illustrator from Victoria. 
Her new picture book Adoptive Father can be found at www.adoptivefather.org
Her portfolio can be seen at: www.kayleenwest.com.au 

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great thoughts, Kayleen. It really is worthwhile to study semantics and delve into words at times. The definition of evil you've just given really broadens the scope of the frequent biblical advice to speak or think no evil. When we're quick to say we never do, maybe we should think again.
    And I can surely relate to and understand your examples.
    Blessings,
    Paula

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    1. Hi Paula,

      It is amazing how much our words have power over our lives and how misinterpretation always leads to confusion. It is a learning curve for sure.

      Blessings,
      Kayleen

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  2. Thanks Kayleen. Really confirmed something to me that I have been writing about lately.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      Don't you love it when another Christian confirms what God is showing you? I love this about the Lord. Repetitive confirmation gives us security and courage to move into bolder territory. All the best!

      Blessings,
      Kayleen

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  3. Thanks for making us think Kayleen. I think we Christian writers have it good - since writing is such fun. It's awesome having a job that one enjoys. Big difference from toiling on something that doesn't give one much pleasure.

    But yes, you are right - it's easy enough to turn it into burdensome toil. Something we do need to guard against.

    Thanks Kayleen,
    Anusha

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    1. Hi Anusha,

      I think we enjoy anything we are passionate about. The challenge comes mainly in things we would rather not be doing, however, our occupation is not without hard work and a degree of frustration as we want to honour God with what we do.

      Blessings,
      Kayleen

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  4. What a wise friend and thanks Kayleen for sharing both your doubts and those wise words with us.

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    1. Thanks Dale,

      I think as a Christian we need to be real and honest with our struggles. We are not immune to life's trials and far from perfect but equipped (through Jesus) to overcome it.

      Blessings,
      Kayleen

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  5. Kayleen, I love your painting - what a beautiful picture of a beautiful truth. The image reminds me of what it feels like to be carrying burdens. We forget so easily that Jesus wants to take them from us.

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  6. Hi Adam,

    Thank you. I felt like that until Jesus rescued me. Now I remind myself not to take any of them back!

    Blessings,
    Kayleen

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