Posted on May 21, 2014 by Bill
The book is entitled, Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t Agree. I will turn in the manuscript to Thomas Nelson on June 1. Release date is March 2015. So I thought I would give you an excerpt. This week will be the first part of the Introduction and next week will the rest of it. Let me know what you think!
I awoke in the dead of night. Glancing at my watch, I saw the time. 4:30 AM. Nope, not time to get up. Perhaps I can roll over and go back to sleep. Instead, my mind quickly veered in another direction, to a book I had tried to start writing. And with that one mental turn, anxiety began to trickle into my stomach. The book had not been going well. Starting it had felt like an old car jerking into motion and then sputtering out. I fretted over the thesis, I was confused about the chapters, and after repeated attempts, I was getting nowhere. With that realization coming on me in the dark, anxiety now began to grip me like a steel claw. “Could I pull off this book off? Perhaps this is beyond me.”
Then my thoughts took another turn, to my present circumstances. They weren’t good either. With the help of some friends, I had spent the last year trying to forge a new ministry to men. It had felt like trying to hack my way through tangled undergrowth. Nothing about it had been easy: structuring small groups, planning events, promoting on social media, attempting to find a niche. On top of all that was the fund-raising. I had had so little previous experience, yet I plunged into it with the necessary calls and conversations. That too had been difficult, harder than I could have imagined with the undergrowth refusing me passage. And now the reality was becoming starkly clear with the bank account. We were running out of money.
So much seemed at stake now, not just the ministry, but the future for our family, our living situation, our stability, our security. It all seemed on the line. The level of anxiety turned up another notch and rose to a screech. But now it had another companion, one that had stalked me so often in the past. Fear.
Realizing that I was never going back to sleep, I got up, made my morning coffee, and took it out on the back porch. Like most early mornings, I opened my Bible, trying to hear it attentively. But this morning, all I could hear was the fear, and it was screaming at me. Reading the Scriptures felt like trying to focus on a textbook in Swahili. It was print on a page, making no impression, offering no help. Instead my thoughts kept circling back around to the book. I had gotten the green light from an editor to submit a proposal for it after a lunchtime conversation. It was a remarkable opportunity that I was not going to let slip away. At first it seemed like an exciting topic, one that was so interwoven with my story, one that I had already taught to others. Here was something I could really pull off, something that could help others and expand God’s kingdom. But at every turn, I had met obstacles, roadblocks, detours, and then dead-ends. I couldn’t get it moving.
Abruptly it all came to me–why I was so fearful. No matter what I told myself, I really wasn’t writing this book for others or for the Lord. I was writing it for myself. I was writing it for the potential money it could offer. I had already figured out how the book advance could tie me over, stemming the hemorrhage of funds from the ministry account. But with no book coming, there would be no money. The more I tried to think my way out of the mess, the more fear rampaged through me.
Then it happened. I suddenly jolted up out of my fear and saw it. I couldn’t believe I had missed it. Everything I was now wrestling with was exactly what the whole book was about. All the truths concerning God’s provision, all the commands not to be fearful, things I had known and taught–it all seemed like life on an alien planet. Instead what felt painfully true was my anxiety over the book and my fear of financial ruin. And underneath all that was a tenaciously held belief: it was up to me to figure it all out. The truths of Scripture seemed locked away in some mental closet, inaccessible, with no doorknob. What I knew had nothing to do with what I felt. I was a divided man.
Next week: Part 2 of the Introduction
Comments are welcomed and wanted!