Marcia Laycock is the author of One Smooth Stone which won her the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. Her devotionals have been widely published. Her writing is endorsed by Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.
My daughter sent us a YouTube video recently, featuring the prowess of a few NFL football players. They were ‘strutting their stuff’ to prove they were worthy of being picked for the Fantasy Football Team. My husband loved the video and even though I don’t follow the sport much, I was impressed. The young athletes were able to do amazing things. One even leaped through two open windows of a car, landing unscathed on the other side, with a football in his hands of course.
As I watched it I thought of the pressure these young men are under to perform. They have already achieved amazing things as athletes. They have trained every day, honed their skills until there is very little left to learn and then been able to put it all on display on a football field in front of thousands of fans. No small accomplishment. Yet they are still trying to prove they can do it. The refrain in the video was, “Look what I can do. Pick me.”
It reminded me of times when I have been in a classroom full of fourth graders. They are anxious to prove themselves too, waving their hands energetically at every question. (Even when they don’t know the answer!). Often they would come to me with the work they had finished, looking up with hopeful eyes for the teacher’s praise. Even those who were able to do excellent work never ceased to try and claim the approval they were never totally confident they would receive.
I have talked to many writers who are a lot like these football players and fourth graders. Even when they have accomplished amazing things – many articles published in magazines, or books circulating all over the country – they still have doubts about their work and feel they have to continue to prove they can really do it.
Some time ago I discovered I had fallen into this group. Though I have managed to accomplish what many do not – publication in several areas – I am plagued with self-doubt. I hold my breath with every submission. I also discovered I was using my writing like those football players and fourth graders – as a means to gain approval. I realized I was waving my hand to try and attract God’s attention, then holding out my accomplishments and saying, “Look what I can do. Pick me.”
Sometimes I forget that God isn’t looking at how many by-lines I have in how many magazines. He isn’t keeping track of the number of books published and sold. He’s not looking at what I’ve accomplished at all.
He’s looking at what Jesus did. For some unfathomable reason He showered His grace upon me and opened my eyes to what happened when Jesus died on a cross more than 2,000 years ago. He picked me. And now the Father sees a heart changed and His Holy Spirit living in me.
And now He’s smiling.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast”( Ephesians 2:8 &9).