November is a big month for writers and authors. It’s the National (American) Novel-Writing Month, a yearly challenge for people anywhere to write a novel in a month’s time, with a challenge of so many words a day. Other people have been inspired by it to create challenges to write daily during November for nonfiction and academic writings.
I like April when the National, and now Global, Poetry Writing Month rolls around, but November is the big month for writing challenges.
Humans like challenges and deadlines. Many if not most people live by competing against others, against the clock, against the current. This probably qualifies as eustress, Hans Selye’s term for beneficial stress:
Eustress occurs when the gap between what one has and what one wants is slightly pushed, but not overwhelmed. The goal is not too far out of reach but is still slightly more than one can handle. This fosters challenge and motivation since the goal is in sight. The function of challenge is to motivate a person toward improvement and a goal.
Into this context let us insert the greatest goal of all — totally within sight and within reach — the most serious challenge a person can face, the deadline of a lifetime or, perhaps, of the unannounced, undefined second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ:
You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1.8-9.
Faith is the great enterprise that defies the senses. Love for Christ presents us the most exciting venture of all. The challenge to save our souls for eternity appears daunting, but Peter says that Christians are right now attaining it. It has not been completed, but is in positive process. (The verb “attaining” is a present participle in the Greek original.)
The attainment in the process of realization is the cause of the joy that Peter qualifies as “indescribable and glorious.” Salvation is future, but in the present moment the saints hold it strongly in the sight of faith.
In our time we tend to think we are at a disadvantage of not having seen Jesus personally, as did Peter, or not having heard people like the apostle tell of his personal experiences with the Lord. But let us never distance ourselves from the attainment of salvation which is now being realized. It is happening, as surely as if Christ were bodily and physically walking us to the finish line. We are reaching the goal, as certainly as Peter and his readers were reaching it.
Let our present suffering serve as eustress, not distress, pushing us forward, causing us joy rather than grief. For by it our faith will be proved genuine, 1 Peter 1.7. And the attainment of our goal “will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
We may not finish in the month of November, but it will be a daily exercise worthy of our best thoughts and efforts.
Randal’s book Choose! guides readers to make the goal a present experience.