Lord, reveal and remove my pride. Extend and expand my humility. Amen
A simple prayer but a powerful one. All work for God, whether writing, preaching, praying, parenting, teaching, loving, giving, sharing, all work that we do that bears fruit in the world starts with our humility.
Humility is being humble. The word, humble, comes from the root word, humus, which is soil. Like dirt, we aren’t much without God’s Spirit in us. When we recognize that, we become open to God’s work through us, and His power to do amazing things in the world.
Today, before you come to the keyboard, the office, the breakfast table, the bedroom chair, the classroom, pray for humility. It is a prayer that God loves to answer.
The Shepherd’s Song paperback is out and we are celebrating with a blog tour! Come by any of the links and visit us and leave a comment. We have prizes! We love prizes. You can sign up to receive a free Psalm 23 devotional and printable poster here.Then keep a lookout at the great sites below for free books, recipes and gifts.
Writing Tips From Jesus: Take Off Your Outer Garment
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. John 13: 3-4
Take off your outer garment. But we don’t like exposure. A writer’s ego is fragile.
There is a poet who hides her beautiful poetry under her bed in a box. Another writer burns her journals. A friend of ours will not tell his story because his sisters would not approve.
After publishing The Lord of the Rings Tolkien said, “I have exposed my heart to be shot at.” And there are those that would take target practice on our hearts.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. compared a critical reviewer to “a knight in armor beating up on a hot fudge sundae.” And there are those knights in armor waiting.
We are all protective of ourselves. Writers can’t be. We “take off our outer garment” and serve by being vulnerable. When we write, we show ourselves and connect with others by being transparent, allowing others to see inside of us. It’s risky.
There is a cost to the exposure that writing brings.
Knowing that God has all things under control makes us brave. We make a choice to be “shot at” and “beat up” and we expose our thoughts anyway. We let go of fear and use our one wonderful life for His Glory.
What power there is in the pen. The power to allow a reader to step into a world of our creating and experience truth, love, revelation, joy. Or with stories we can take a reader to a place of fear, hate, abuse. Our creator God has made us in His image to create. It’s up to us how we will wield that power.
Light or darkness
Love or hate
Building up or tearing down
“A farmer went out to sow some seeds . . .” Jesus begins a story that is layered with meaning but simple. The reader, even years after the telling, has room to move around in the story. Jesus loves the reader.
“A man had two sons . . .” Jesus begins again and our hearts are drawn into the narrative, listening and experiencing, not manipulated and controlled. In humility Jesus creates the world of a story and gives it to us.
In the best writing the author is invisible. The reader enjoys the story without awareness of the writer’s agenda. The author’s intent and focus as been on the reader, not on himself.
As writers, storytellers, mothers, fathers, teachers we use words every day. The most powerful words are spoken or written in love and humility.
According to Merriam-Webster surrender means: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed. to give the control or use of (something) to someone else.
One morning in a coffee shop in Madison Georgia we met to discuss our next writing project and faced a moment of surrender. Not a waving the white flag kind of moment but a sinking into the acceptance of God’s will. Were we going to be all in for God with our writing? In our faith journey we must reach that point of no return with God, “to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc.”
After writing children’s books for twenty years – writing hard, striving pushing, promoting – the success was good and sweet. Just the letters from children alone were worth the effort. When we started The Shepherd’s Song we had never written a book for adults – all our manuscripts had been less than 100 pages long. All of our contacts in publishing were in the children’s world. Writing a book for adults seemed a little ill-advised and crazy.
We had written down the title. We had discussed the idea. We fought it at first. But the idea sat before us on a piece of paper on the table of the coffee shop. Beside the paper an open Bible turned to Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Ps 23:1
The very words that prompted our idea challenged us as writers. Could we believe God’s promises in the psalm? Sometimes our first reaction to a calling from God is fear and resistance. “We can’t” “We have never” “There’s no way” We said all those things but as we let go of our resistance and surrendered to the idea, the fear was replaced by excitement.
Try to give your agenda to God. Keep saying, ‘Your will be done, not mine.’ Give every part of your heart and your time to God and let God tell you what to do, where to go, when and how to respond. God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God’s will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety in God’s love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God’s name. Henri Nouwen
By the next day we had each completed drafts of one of the first stories of the book. When we surrender we can let go of fear and accept any outcome.
In the surrender of any work there is a moment of fear, a moment of resistance, then a moment of relinquishing and finally the excitement and joy and peace. We have that peace as we move forward in our work trusting God and surrendering to His will. Surrender removes the fear of failure.
Can you relate to this issue of surrender? Where do you struggle with it?