Goals have always been fuzzy for me. Whether we're talking about soccer or football or basketball or life, I really just haven't been very clear about goals. There aren't goals in baseball. That's probably why baseball is my favorite sport, but I digress...
My sister, like a true first-born child, was always the sort of person who knew what she wanted to do. And then she did it. I, on the other hand, like a true second-born child, waited around for someone to tell me what to do and how to do it. If my sister and I had been more alike, maybe that would have worked out for me. Heck, I'd be a rocket scientist. But my sister and I are not alike at all. Not at all. I love her and am very proud of the woman she is (she's a rocket scientist AND a mommy to the greatest kids ever), but she and I are about as different as two sisters can get.
I feel sorry for my parents who had to deal with me growing up. They had my sister who joined the Marching Band and National Honor Society and held leadership positions in clubs and such. She knew what she wanted to do with her life when she was like 15 or something...at least that's how I remember it. Maybe my memories are fuzzy. I, on the other hand, stayed at home a lot. I read books. I watched tv. I moped a lot. I think my parents would have been excited to learn that I was out causing trouble with friends because 1) it would mean that I was out of the house and 2) it would mean I had friends.
And then, I was the kid who stared at her ceiling every night for YEARS (every night, mind you), and I pleadingly prayed that God would just show me what He wanted me to do with my life. I expected a lightning bolt to come out of heaven, and poof! I'd know God's will for my life.
That's not how it works. At least, not with me. I have a feeling it doesn't work that way for a lot of people.
So I went through adolescence and into young adulthood with this vague sense of purpose, not really knowing what I wanted. I dropped out of college, went back to a different school, got a degree I couldn't use--but I got an education, and that's really why I went in the first place. Went to seminary. Dropped out. Now I'm working...
...when I can find time to write.
And lately, I've been feeling a lot like a hamster on a wheel. I'm running with all my might, but I'm not going anywhere. I'm not sure I know where I want to go, and even if I do know, I'm not sure how to get there. So I just keep running. And I'm wearing myself out without making any progress.
A few years ago, it suddenly hit me that the Holy Lightning Bolt theory just wasn't gonna happen. And that's okay. God shows us what He wants from us in the Bible--if we're doing the little things we should be doing (including the hard things like loving our enemies, trusting and obeying), then the rest is going to fall into place. And if there's something that God's given us a passion to do, then we should do it with all our mights and trust God to show us if that's not what He wants. And I have a passion and a talent for writing. I've been given these gifts for a reason. It's time to use them.
For the first time in my life, I have a clear goal. I want to be a published writer. I want God to use me and my writing to do something...I don't know what. I just know I want to be a published writer. So I'm trying to work towards that, but I still feel like that hamster. I'm still running on that wheel trying to work my three jobs, carrying my responsibilities, keeping up with my diet and exercise plan, trying to stay in God's Word as much as possible...
When exactly do I have time to write? When exactly do I have time to figure out the query letters and synopses and sample chapters?
Last night, I had a little bit of an anxiety attack. It wasn't a full-blown one. I've never had one of those where I felt like I was having a heart attack or dying. It was a little one--where I couldn't catch my breath and couldn't calm down and started thinking I was literally going crazy and should ust shut myself up in a loony bin so I wouldn't be an annoyance to anyone else. I've had those small attacks before, but it's been years...
Well, I finally calmed down and immediately went to bed. This morning I went back and read the passage we studied in Bible Study on Sunday morning:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
(skip a bit, Brother Maynard)
For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:18-21)
Sometimes, I get so close to being right that I think I'm right, but sometimes being close to being right isn't close enough. And I missed something big. I'm not sure if it's the first time I've "gotten" this, or if it's just something of which I desperately needed to be reminded.
What is my goal? My ultimate goal? Is it to find the literary agent of my dreams who thinks all my books are wonderful ideas that he/she is dying to represent? Is it to sign a book contract with a major publisher who wants to send me a large book advance? Is it to write a book that will remain on the NY Times Best Seller list for several weeks in a row? Is it to have a following greater or equal to Twilight or Harry Potter? Is it to have my books made into a wildly popular film series? Is it to win a Newbery Medal? Is it to make sure that people three hundred years from now remember the name A. R. Campbell with fondness and awe?
Those are great goals. I'll admit my biggest writing goal right now is to just find an agent and get something published. But even that isn't my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal has nothing to do with writing, and I almost missed that because I wasn't thinking along the right lines.
My goal is to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Everything else pales in comparison to that goal. There are times when I am tempted to think that the things down here are of ultimate importance. In these times, I start thinking my destiny is something temporary--doomed to eventual destruction. I start feeding the god of my stomach--of what I think I want or need at the moment. I start thinking my glory is in something I can do, but when you really think about it, I haven't done a lot of which I should be proud.
It's hard to think along these lines, but when I'm in heaven, all the great works of C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle are going to be revealed for what they are: dirty rags. J. S. Bach's amazing music: worthlessness. Mother Teresa's generosity: rubbish. Compared to the glory that is in Christ Jesus, there's nothing we can do that amounts to anything.
My goal, my ultimate goal, is not to write something brilliant and have it published for the world to see. My ultimate goal is to lose my life so that I can be found in Jesus. It is He that makes us glorious in eternity--and I think right down here, as well. When we're in Him, that's when the great composer's music becomes beautiful. That's when the acts of love and kindness become notable. That's when the poets words become poetry, the singer's notes become song.
And that's when the scared little girl can take up her pen and slay Dragons.
Not that I've attained this.
I'm...pressing on towards the goal...standing firm and rejoicing in the Lord...striving to be anxious for nothing...praying with supplication and thanksgiving in all circumstances...letting God's peace guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus...thinking about things which are true and noble, right and pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy...knowing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength...trusting that He will supply all my needs according to His glorious riches...
Soli Deo Gloria.