Sunday, February 3, 2013

EDITORIAL COMMENT: The Borrowed Book is very pleased to welcome Shannon McNear to our team. Shannon's publishing credits include former interview coordinator for Christian Fandom and several short stories in Christian Fiction Online Magazine. At the 2012 ACFW conference, she was awarded a first-time author contract from Barbour Publishing, for her historical romance novella "Defending Truth." It’s slated to appear in the 9-novella collection A Pioneer Christmas, releasing September 2013.

A resident of Charleston, South Carolina, for more than 20 years, she loves losing herself in local history, especially the colonial era. She’s a homeschooling mother of eight, military wife, and a member of ACFW. When not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she finds joy in women’s ministry, children’s worship, and encouraging whoever God brings across her path.

By Shannon McNear

I can’t do this.

So many times over the course of my life, those words have whispered through my mind. Sometimes they’ve even crossed my lips.

During a particularly hard year in my teens, trying to navigate life, the universe, and my own too-intense nature.

The loneliness of the last semester at college, awash in delayed grieving over my dad’s death.

The difficulties which always come during marriage, with a husband who seemed so obliviously happy, I didn’t feel I could talk to him.

In childbirth, during transition, that most awful part of labor just before the glad work of pushing.

Facing the possibility of a child who would be medically fragile his whole life—and then with the reality of having to relinquish him completely.

Rearing and schooling a houseful of very strong-willed and active children, often in the midst of military separations and later, the grief of losing one of their siblings.

In the long, long journey as a writer, during the years before that first coveted contract.

Now, dealing with a husband mostly overseas, uncertainty in regards to where we might wind up living, oldest child graduating from college, oldest daughter planning a wedding, youngest child still learning how to read, and God nudging me to step forward in a handful of areas.

I can’t do this.

So many times I’ve stepped out in faith, or what I thought was faith, only to have the thing falter and fail and crumble to nothing. I don’t want my life to be a string of nothings.

At last, after many years of saying I can’t, and knowing it was truth, I stopped and asked the Lord—why did You lead me on this path if I couldn’t do it?

And He whispers to me, So you would always be reminded that you need me.

The words echo inside me. Why would I need that reminder? I already know I need Him!

But do I really? Pride is a lifelong enemy. Would I not truly become puffed with my own importance, my own capability, if I had better apparent “success” in walking this journey?

And then, the next time I’m in a crisis, I find myself saying it again.

I can’t do this.

The Lord responds, You’re right. You can’t. But—I can, through you.

In my heart of hearts, I kneel, humbled, overwhelmed that He would choose me, that He’d think I’m a fit vessel for His Spirit and His work. Oh Lord, what is mankind, that You would set Your love upon us—upon me?

And then comes the process of surrender—because for a stone-cold will like mine, it always seems to mean breaking, and crushing, and being chiseled into something I don’t even recognize, before I can finally accept that He is God, and He’s good, and His plan is so far beyond anything I could imagine, let alone see as the thing of wonder He intends it to be.

In the process, I learn that I myself am meant to be a thing of wonder as well. “You must be so strong,” someone said to me just the other day.

No. Oh, no. I lost count of the times I’ve said “I can’t.” But I’m also learning that He can. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can take a soul once drowning in despair and bitterness and raise it, too, to life.

And then ... I can.

From Psalm 18, NKJV:

28 For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
31 For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.


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