Friday, November 25, 2022

Like Those Who Dream: Chapter 32, Lose to Gain, Die to Live

Like Those Who Dream: Chapter 32
Lose to Gain, Die to Live
Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” John 12:24-26 NJKV

God ways are very different from our ways, His Spirit operates differently than our flesh, and His kingdom is completely upside down from the ways of the world. The world cries out, “Get all you can; gain all you can; be all you can be.” The kingdom of God proclaims, “Let go; lose your life; surrender all.”

The only way we can understand what it means to be like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies” is to go through something in life that brings about a death in us. We don’t “fall into the ground and die” theoretically, we “fall into the ground and die” experientially. We die to our own way, to independence, and to self-sufficiency. The Cross of Jesus Christ brings to an end everything about our old way of life—our good points and bad points, our pride and our plans, our reputation and our self-centered ambition, and even our timelines—The result is that real life, in all its fullness and fruitfulness in Christ, comes forth. 

In the late 80’s the Cross of Jesus Christ worked in me in a deeper way. God had to deal with some things that had entered my heart that were not right.  It happened slowly, over a period of time. Because of my position within the company, I tried to wrap my arms around all the creative writing that needed to be done. I had been doing this for sixteen years and I didn’t want to let it go. In a subtle way, I had shifted my worth and value to what I was doing and not to who I was in Christ. I began working for the approval of people instead of the approval of God. With this, came a great deal of striving in my work because I did not want to lose control.

God knew I needed to step away from what I was doing and He worked through some major changes in the business to deal with the issues of my heart. A process began that eventually took me out of the writing ministry at DaySpring.

I was devastated and couldn’t understand what was happening. A cloud settled over me and I found myself having difficulty going to work. There were times when all I could do was plop down on my bed and not move. Eventually, I came to a place in my heart where DaySpring died to me and I died to DaySpring. At that point it seemed like my time at the company was over. I thought I would never write again.

As I started to think about a new direction in my life, I was asked if I would be willing to work in a different division of the company called Best to You.

Best to You was a direct sales operation that sold products through a catalog. When the idea was first presented to me it did not sound appealing. I knew nothing about a catalog business and wondered what I could do there. When I was told I would write catalog sales copy, it sounded even less appealing. I was about to turn down the offer when I sensed the Spirit of God prompt me to say “Yes.”

This went against all my reasoning, but I knew it was better to obey God than to find something else to do on my own. Without any excitement or fanfare I reported to work.

Best to You was located in a large office area containing about 15 cubicles that were used primarily as customer service stations. At one end of the room were two private offices which were used by the leaders, Phil and Diane. There were no windows in the main office area and no place where you could get alone or have any privacy. Every cubicle was taken and the office was abuzz with activity.

The only place they could fit me in was located toward the back of the room. There was just enough space for a small desk and a chair. There I sat, surrounded by a roomful of women, in a place that was far different from my once private office that overlooked the meadow. The important thing was that I was at peace and content in the place God had put me.

I was very warmly welcomed into Best to You by the leaders and the women who worked in the main office area.  Phil was very honoring and Diane was extremely encouraging. The others in the department were friendly and very supportive. After settling into the new environment, I was given my first catalog assignment. I did the best I could and turned it in to be approved. To my surprise, everyone liked it. Catalog copy assignments continued to be sent my way and I was able to keep up with the pace and do an acceptable job, however, the work did not deeply excite me and I wasn’t sure how long I would continue. After a few months on the job something happened that changed everything.

Best to You was working with an out-of-state consultant from Colorado. During one of her visits she met with Phil and Diane and suggested they offer a premium for the upcoming catalog.  Her idea was to create a gift book and offer it for free with any order over a certain dollar amount. By the end of the meeting all of them not only agreed to do the gift book, but decided that I should write it. When I was offered the assignment I was thrilled. It was the fulfillment of a desire I had carried for years. The Lord, without any effort or striving on my part, dropped the devotional book opportunity into my lap.

As I sat in front of my computer screen and looked at the blank space on my word document, I became anxious about the book. It had been a long time since I had written anything for DaySpring and my experience of letting go of my creative writing was so complete that I thought I had nothing left to give.

“I don’t know if I can do this, Lord.” I prayed. By faith, I put my fingers on the keyboard and began to type. Before long I finished the first page, then the second and the third. Within a few weeks I had completed the manuscript and titled it Never Forgotten, Always Loved.

As I was writing Never Forgotten, Always Loved, I sensed the Spirit of God began to resurrect the writing gift that had died within me. It was during this time that God spoke something to my heart that transformed me as a writer…

God showed me a river. “What does this mean, Lord?” I asked.

“This is my creative river, and the river represents the Holy Spirit. The headwaters of my creative river begin at my throne and flow from there.”

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.

“I want you to get in.” He answered.

“That’s what I desire, but how do I get in?” I responded.

“By faith,” He said.

It was at that moment that I, by a simple act of faith, stepped into God’s creative river. I was amazed to discover the changes that began to happen in me as the days and weeks went by—I sensed the river wash over me, cleanse me, refresh me, and renew me.

The creative river of the Holy Spirit was always new. The water that touched me one moment was gone the next, only to be replaced by new water again. The river that touched me moved downstream to touch others. The river was on-going, never ending, and always in the moment.

Within God’s creative river there was no strife, only rest. I realized that everything that happened was because of the activity of the river. It was not up to me to make things happen. I noticed the width of the river and was amazed how much room there was for everyone who wanted to enter in. The idea of competition disappeared. There was room for every individual, every business, and every ministry that God had called. I knew that the depth of the river would take my writing to a whole new level and bring His heart to others in a way I had never known before. I found that my place in the river created a whole new expectation of faith within my spirit. It was as though my eyes were fixed upstream to see what the Holy Spirit would be sending my way. I realized that there were other things coming down the river that were not for me, and that I should not covet another person’s work or ministry, but rejoice that they were also receiving their work from the Holy Spirit as He chose to release it.

I took great joy in the experience of working in God’s creative river. I sensed God’s anointing and freedom in so many new ways. The first devotional book I did for the catalog turned out to be a success and I was asked to write another, then a third book, and then a fourth. (One of my greatest publishing joys came when a Messianic publishing ministry in Israel printed in Hebrew all four of the devotional books I had written for Best to You. After publication they distributed them to the soldiers in the Israeli Army.)

The creative opportunities continued to grow within Best to You, and in time, I became part of a creative team that developed exclusive product for the catalog. I was there for over three amazing years, and enjoying my best days creatively when things suddenly changed.

In the late 80’s DaySpring had been sold to David C. Cook, a Christian publishing company in Colorado Springs. In the early 90’s they decided to move Best to You to their plant in Colorado. It came as a big surprise to all of us on staff to discover that Best to You would be closing down and moving away from Arkansas. I had no idea what would be next. As I thought about other options I was contacted by DaySpring leadership.  

Once again, I was faced with a decision that created a struggle within me. Did God want me to return to DaySpring? Was God going to bring back to my life something that had come to an end? The opportunity was before me, but my heart was not drawing me that way. The more I talked about the possibility of returning to work at DaySpring, the more I struggled. I had several meetings with leadership but no progress was made. Rather than try and force something, I decided it would be best to turn down the offer.

As I was about to give DaySpring my final answer I was asked to have one more meeting with the new leader of the Product Development department. We met in my office at home and talked for over an hour. The more we talked the further apart we were in our views. I decided to end our meeting with a “no” when God stepped into the conversation. After a week of praying, talking, and thinking, I heard from the Lord for the first time on this matter. Once I heard His voice, further talking was no longer necessary. What I heard the Lord say was simple and clear, directing me to say, “Yes.”

Saying “Yes” meant that I would now be managing the Editorial Department. There were many things within the department that needed to be fixed. Although I was a company founder and had worked in the creative area for years, I had never officially worked in the capacity of a manager. It was new ground and I knew there would be new things to learn. I sought the Lord for His wisdom and direction and He began to direct me and give me wisdom. After a few months things started falling into place, and step by step the Editorial Department was returning to where it needed to be.

My work in the Editorial Department continued for two years. My interests in managing began to dry up, and the joy I had in doing the job started to fade. My desire to return to a more active writing ministry once again began to increase. I realized that when the Lord led me to manage the Editorial Department it was an assignment, but not a calling.

A short time later a new leader for the Editorial Department was raised up. He couldn’t have been a better choice. After mentoring him for a few months I was ready to move on.

(Join us next week as we continue this journey of Roy's memoir, Like Those Who Dream. The book is available through DaySpring and Christian retailers everywhere.)

#memoir #likethosewhodream #meetinginthemeadow #roylessin #roylessinmemoir #cofounderdayspring #dayspring 

©2022 Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow. ©2021 DaySpring, used with permission. 

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