Spirituality for Today – February 2009 – Volume 13, Issue 7

Keeping the Faith

By Janice Alonso

God has always been at work in my life, and while I live each day aware of His presence, I remain unaware of His overall divine plan. For much of my younger life I felt the need to chart out and follow a direction I thought would be best so I could do what God expected of me. Over time I've learned that on those occasions when I didn't understand why something happened, or didn't happen, often I later had an "ah-ha" moment that made those situations clearer. More important, I've come to understand it doesn't matter when, even if it is never, that I receive that moment of enlightenment. What matters is that I keep my faith and put my trust in God's guidance.

A photo of an ink pen and ink bottle

For years I've been led to write for inspirational and religious publications. I've wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. When I grew up, life became busy, and then even more busy once I became a wife and eventually a stay-at-home mom. Add in children's activities, family moves, and volunteer work and writing time disappeared altogether. I was sad to think that I was losing my dream of becoming a writer, but felt perhaps being an author just wasn't my "calling." I tucked away my notebooks with their partially fleshed-out ideas and moved on.

Then one day writing time worked its way back into my life. What I soon discovered was that I had pages filled with potential stories to share with others. These stories evolved from experiences and tasks God had placed before me during those non-writing years. The blessings I've received from each of these pieces far surpasses the joy, and dare I say "pride," from having created a story that was deemed worthy to be published for others to read. I understand fully the writing is not about me nor is me doing the creating. It is about God choosing me to be His vessel to share these experiences. It was a long and discouraging road to that first acceptance letter, but it was an exciting and fulfilling journey made all the more so because I trusted in God's time. I believe God is pleased when we accept His gifts with a grateful heart, but this is only the beginning. He expects more from us, much more.

I'm guilty of getting comfortable with my life and love to remain in that place of security. However, God wants to me grow and learn from all He has placed before me, but for another reason: He wants me to use those gifts in new ways. After all, He placed me there to develop the skills and confidence needed to move to the next leg of the trip He's planned for me. Simply put, God knows the complete picture and He does not send His children out unprepared. In the new year God is nudging me from my comfort zone. I will not stop writing; I will be building on the foundation He is continually laying for my life.

I was asked to lead an inspirational writing class in my church. I prayed about it. Am I the right person? Do I know enough to lead others? What if I fail? These were just a few of the questions I lifted up. These are valid concerns, and ones that should be considered. I have accepted the challenge and have come up with a class tentatively titled: "Writing from the Heart." After all, that is what I have been doing for a long time. God has blessed me in so many ways with my writing experiences, and I feel He now wants me to share this knowledge with others so that they too can discover what God has placed in their hears as well.

What is not hidden is His Love for each of us.

God does not intend for us to be storehouses for His blessings. He wants us to pass these blessings on to others just as He has given so freely to us. The Bible is filled with passages explaining His desire for us to share our gifts. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) Jesus tells of three servants entrusted with varying amounts of talents to use in their master's absence. When the master returns home, he is pleased with the two servants who invested their talents to make more. But he is unhappy with the one who buried his. In verse 29 of this passage the master says:

"For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

Perhaps 1 Peter 4:10 states it most clearly:

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."

The idea of sharing gifts is exciting, especially when that gift has brought so much joy into one's own life. For me to be able to take my thoughts and bring them to life in a story is enough of a blessing in and of itself, but to have these stories published for others to enjoy has been the blessing that literally keeps on giving. Now God has channeled this gift into a new direction by allowing me to lead others in their desire to share their stories. May I be a worthy vessel.

Matthew 28:19-20 says:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded of you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Each of us has different desires and talents. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Each of us has gifts that lay hidden within, except not hidden to God. What is not hidden is His Love for each of us. If we keep our faith in His plan, place our trust in His guidance, and lift our eyes upward for His encouragement, Our Heavenly Father will reward us with joy beyond description.