ringing alarm clock by paul, freedigitalphotos

This year I work under the pressure of a looming double-deadline for fiction and for bible studies. Each March-April, my pastor, my husband, and I plot the timetable for the coming school year, and I begin studying and writing the bible studies. As I write this year, I await the return of my novel’s manuscript from my editor at Koehler Books.

When it arrives, I will work through the suggested revisions. While I wait, I scurry to get all my summer’s writing done. This is my novel journey. Writing theology and writing fiction are two very different tasks. I cannot do them simultaneously. 

I have no idea when the manuscript will come back, and I don’t want to be in the middle of bible-study writing when it returns. So I press forward with haste.

Rescue Time, 6,30, 2013

My efficiency results in high productivity, which I monitor with RescueTime, seeking to use my time wisely. The need to finish these tasks also forestalls my preparation of past material for sale this summer, since I have no assistant to deal with copyright permissions and formatting. I juggle these obligations, striving to produce quality content for every venue, paid or not.

Sahara Desert by James Barker, freedigitalphotos

Once more I feel as if I’m running up sand dunes. The going is tough. I’m pressing down the panic. A bare week ago my mother-in-law’s funeral occurred. Grief has robbed me of acuity.

Life happens while I do my work.

Back in 2008, when I first drafted Refuge and imagined my existence as a published author, I didn’t comprehend the challenges that accompanied publication. It’s not glamorous. It involves strict time management, social media use, and prioritization.

Teenagers Reading Sms by Ambro, freedigitalphotos

These three principles keep me in balance:

1) My family is my top priority.

God has given me the gift of a large family. They rank before all work commitments, and I intend to keep it that way. My family takes precedence. Around them, everything else revolves. This week I will cease my labors to play with a precious granddaughter and to spend time with our son, daughter-in-law, and daughter. I can’t wait!

family members lying on the carpet by photostock, freedigitalphotos

When people tried to rush his schedule, Jesus always said, “My time is not yet at hand.” The family of God was his priority. Obtaining us was his foremost task. To do this, he worked on God’s timetable. Jesus set his face like flint to achieve the goal.  He never sacrificed God’s family for the deadline. He sacrificed himself. Jesus is the model for the Christian laborer.

happy family having a pillow fight by photostock, freedigitalphotos

2) The Master must be in the project. 

We do our work for him. Therefore, his priorities are most important. He ranks the needs of people first. As he helps us to prioritize this rightly, he produces character in us. We learn to recognize that we must rely on him to do it. We strive to be like him.

3) The interruptions are not random, but are God-ordained.

The obstacles are predetermined to produce Christlikeness in us and to bring about the outcome he desires. He is as invested in our spiritual growth as he is in the final product of our service. We work for him. We are slaves of the Master.

This is Christian service. It’s nitty-gritty. It’s done with babies on hips and kids in tow, pressing a deadline. It’s behind the scenes, out of the limelight, in the middle of the night, hunched over the computer, the sick, or the dying. It’s listening to a teen at midnight. It’s rocking a child or traveling 30+ hours to arrive at a faraway land. It’s travelers’ diarrhea. It’s striving for excellence. It’s pulling it together just in time, then turning to smile at people as they come in the door.

It’s complete dependence on the Savior, and he gets all the glory.

Knowing that allows me to take a deep breath, deliver my schedule to him, exert my supreme effort, hold to my priorities, and trust him for the outcome. When I forget, everything crashes down around me.

How are you managing your time pressure?

 

All photos: Free Digital Photos. Click on each photo for information.