“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”I’m writing this because a thirteen-year-old called my cell phone at ten o’clock last night. Had he not done so, I would surely be doing something else. But he called. So, here I am.
-- Hebrews 10:24-25
This requires some explanation. Let me back up.
Several weeks ago, following a sermon on investing in eternal things, my Ever-Lovin’ Wife (ELW) led our small group in a prayer exercise. We were to ask God if there was something He wanted us to invest in, either with our time or our money, and then to listen for His response. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and began to pray silently.
Instantly, I knew what God wanted me to do. He wanted me to write. Devotionals, blogging, curriculum, sermons…my books. He wanted me to invest in writing for Him.
I felt anxious, agitated. “But God,” I replied, “I don’t have time to write. If I were to do that, I’d have to give up some of my relaxation time. I’d have to watch less TV! You know how much TV means to me!”
Looking back on it, this reply seems somewhat childish and awfully silly. But in that moment, it seemed true. I had been convicted by the Holy Spirit to do something that I had no desire to do, and I felt angry that God would even ask. By God’s grace, I shared this experience with my small group and asked them to pray that God would change my heart.
Weeks went by, and despite my small group community’s prayers and encouragement, still no writing. But I could sense God softening my heart toward the idea. I went from loathing at the thought of it, to begrudging acceptance that it was a good idea, to some sort of vaguely eager anticipation of it. I even came up with a plan for how writing might occur. Each night after putting ELW to bed (I’m still tucking her in after twelve years of marriage), I would spend the next hour writing. It was specific, measurable, and not overly ambitious. In other words, it was perfect.
Except for one thing. I didn’t do it.
Enter my thirteen-year-old friend, Tyler Crane. Tyler is in the 8th grade guys small group that I lead at church. Last weekend several folks from our youth group, including Tyler and me, attended a local Summer Camp in the foothills. There, we heard a message on Ephesians 5:15-16 about making the most of the short time we have on earth, spending it doing things with eternal ramifications. Again, God brought my writing to mind. I mentioned this conviction with my 8th grade guys, both during our car ride home and at youth group this week, in an effort to model transparency. But God had more in store.
After youth group, Tyler came up to me and said, “So, your plan is to write after your wife goes to bed each night?”
“That’s right,” I said.
“So, what time does she go to bed?"
“Oh, between 9:30 and 9:45 I suppose.”
"So…if I called you at 10:00, you should be writing when I called, right?”
I hesitated. I could see where this was going. “Yeah, I guess that’s right.”
“Okay. I’ll call you tonight.”
And he did. At 10pm. On the dot.
I answered, “Hi, Tyler.”
Three words came back in response: “Are you writing?”
That was last night. I did write last night, though I was working on a Seminary project, and as my wonderful ELW reminded me this evening, God did not tell me He wants me to invest more time in getting my homework done.
And so tonight, I’m writing this.
I’m writing this to say that I now have a real life example of what the author of Hebrews means when he commands us to “spur one another on.” Spurring is aggressive encouragement. Help that can’t be ignored. A ten o’clock phone call to find out if you’re writing. That’s being spurred on. That’s love.
I’m writing this to say that while God filled the powder keg of inspiration and conviction that has led me to write, it was Tyler Crane who lit the match. (Tonight, I was three paragraphs in when he called. I don’t know what I’ll be in the midst of tomorrow night, but I know I’ll be writing something!)
I’m writing this to ask you if someone in your life needs this kind of spurring on. Maybe you need it yourself. For me, being spurred on is a nightly phone call and a simple question. What would it look like for you, or for the ones you love?
Because, if we’re honest, we all have times in our lives when what we really need is for someone to call us and ask, “Are you writing?”