Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Better Than Average

Today I am participating in the meme, In "other" Words, hosted by Deborah at Chocolate and Coffee. She has selected a quote from A. W. Tozer as this Tuesday’s topic.

"Refuse to be average. Let your heart soar as high as it will." Aiden Wilson Tozer

Six years ago the Lord put on my heart a “calling” to write. I began writing for my own discipline and pleasure, in obedience to what I felt God was asking me to do. It was what consumed my private hours, but I had no intention of sharing my writing with anyone.

Only a few months into my writing, through an unusual set of circumstances, I began leading a Women’s Sunday School class. Again, this was not something I set out to do, but I did feel compelled to do it. I found that preparing for the Sunday school class inspired me to write even more. It was another way for me to interact with the Scripture lessons I was teaching. Still, I was very reluctant to share any of my writing. That would be like allowing others to peer directly into my heart and soul. I was uncomfortable sharing so much of myself. Besides that, I didn’t want to seem boastful about the gift and ministry God had given me.

Slowly, apologetically even, I did begin to share some of my poems and essays as they matched the day’s topic. Instead of boasting or opening myself up to contempt, as I had feared, I found that through my writing I was better understood -respected, even, for my transparency. Better yet, other women began to open up and share their gifts with me.

Before long I discovered Faithwriters, a wonderful online organization where my writing skills could be practiced and honed. Through the weekly writing challenge I became accustomed to receiving constructive feedback on my writing, and grew in confidence as a writer. I quickly moved up the ranks from beginner, to intermediate, on to advanced, and finally to master’s level. This year, after only two and a half years of participating, one of my poems placed second in the “Best of the Best” annual contest.

“Refuse to be average,” Tozer says. When I consider my writing journey, how could I have ever believed that the God of greatness would call me to do something “average”? Sure, I may never write a best-seller or win a Pulitzer Prize, but then again, why not? Who knows where this godly adventure will take me, and what His pleasure will be?

My favorite part of Tozer’s quote, however, is the last part, “Let your heart soar as high as it will.” This speaks to me of the freedom and joy God allows me to experience when I am acting in obedience to His calling on my life, and the resulting praise that wells up within me.

“I will praise you, O lord, with all my heart.”* Psalm 138:1 (NIV)

My Sunday school class once spent some time considering this verse from Matthew:
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”** Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

This was during my early writing days, and I wrote the following poem to illustrate its meaning. No, it isn’t my best poetic specimen, but I do like its message, and I think it fits with the rest of what I have shared here, so I will leave you to ponder it.
Let Me Shine

What if I refused to let God’s glory shine;
hid it under a bushel basket, denying it was mine?
Would Jesus smile upon me and say I’m doing fine;
a withered leaf just barely clinging to the vine?

What if Daniel thought it odd, interpreting a dream?
What if John the Baptist feared wading in a stream?
Would Jesus smile upon them and say they did just fine;
two withered leaves just barely clinging to the vine?

What if David had refused to write his poetry?
What if Noah said, “I’m not too good at carpentry”?
Would Jesus smile upon them and say they did just fine;
two withered leaves just barely clinging to the vine?

What if Saul declared, “You can’t possibly use me”?
What if Lydia hid her gift of hospitality?
Would Jesus smile upon them and say they did just fine;
two withered leaves just barely clinging to the vine?

God, like those saints, help me reflect your glory day and night,
shining like the stars you flung into the darkest night.
I want to be a beacon of the glory that is mine;
a healthy, vibrant leaf, drinking deeply from the vine.

--Sharlyn Guthrie


  1. Sharilyn,
    Awesome as always. GOD BLESS YOU as you continue to write HIS heart through your pen!!

  2. What a beautiful interpretation of this quote. I love the poem you shared, too. May God continue to use your dream to bless many. You are soaring high, shining brightly for Him.

  3. This is really good!!! Sharlyn, I'm so glad you joined us in this meme. You have so much to contribute. It's obvious that you're using the gifts the Lord has given you and it blessed me today. Thank you!

  4. Very good.
    I always enjoy reading about other writers' journeys. Never apologize for sharing what God has given you!
    I like the full quote from Tozer, which says,
    . . . Refuse to be average or to surrender to the chill of your spiritual environment.
    . . . the "chill" of our environment too often is what discourages us.
    Thank you for sharing with us today.
    Please be a regular!!!
    Kindest Thoughts,

  5. Just beautiful, Sharlyn - so much to ponder. So glad you followed God's call.

  6. What an amazing testimony and encouragement for anyone who is timid in responding to God's call!

    I didn't become bold until I realized "it's not about me":-)

  7. Thank you so much for sharing. I've recently joined Faithwriters, so this is an encouragement to me! :)


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