The Letter

Sometimes, I don’t think we as “Christian” authors give credit to how extraordinary our calling is. I’m speaking specifically to those writers who feel it is God’s will for them to write. We write because we feel burdened to do so. Not burdened like a chain around our necks but restless that if we don’t write then we are not fulfilling what we are here to do.

dark portraitSometimes that calling in light of our circumstances is hard to manage.

Long hours at the keyboard. Perhaps long hours banging your head against the wall when the words don’t seem to be flowing as they should. Managing two careers and likely a family. Wondering how long you can keep up the pace of working two jobs (yes, writing is very much a job) when one’s maybe not paying you as much as you thought it would. No, I haven’t gotten a James Patterson paycheck. Wondering when, if ever, we’ll hit it “big”. Wondering what “big” is?

I think, too, there is added pressure if we consider ourselves Christian authors. Now, there’s a whole other level of worrying/thinking. Is this what God wants me to write? Why did God take me down this path if I can’t survive on this income? Am I writing when God wants me to do something different? Am I still working my “real” (and paying) job when all God wants me to do is write?

LampPost

And so we look for God’s little lampposts along the path. Something—anything to affirm that this is the right, chosen path. That our typed words on a white screen would make a difference to someone, somewhere, in a Godly way. That someone’s faith would be affirmed—strengthened. That maybe our words would give sense to what Jesus did on the cross in a way that someone could then believe in that sacrificial offering for their own lives.

Now, after being on this journey for a couple of years, this is what I know. Sometimes these lampposts along the path are not what we think they will be. Maybe my affirmation is not in selling a gazillion copies of my book or hitting the bestseller lists.

But in a letter.

One of the smartest things I did as an author was leave an e-mail address in my published books and ask readers to e-mail when they finish with their thoughts. Some authors don’t do this for fear of spamming, privacy, etc. You can list your own reasons.

So far, I haven’t received any creepy/concerning e-mails. I have gotten over fifty letters from readers which is nice when you’re also getting one star reviews (particularly on Christmas Day—yes, that did happen!)

I’ve only sobbed over one letter—thus far.

It was written by a woman who had just finished Proof—my debut medical thriller. Proof, at its heart, is about Lilly Reeves, an ER doctor without faith and her journey to coming to know Christ through a trial- by-fire series of events.

In the novel, a physician friend tells Lilly the story of Lazarus. How Jesus waited three days to respond to his good friends’ cries for help. At first, this seems unusually cruel. But in the end, when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Jesus does a miracle he’s never performed before and gives a prelude to his own forthcoming sacrificial offering.

The letter that brought me to tears was from a woman who was in the midst of her son being diagnosed with cancer. He’d just been through the surgery to retrieve lymph nodes and the surgeon was fairly certain of a lymphoma diagnosis—they were just waiting for the final biopsy results. She specifically mentions this passage of the book and what it meant to her at that moment – “. . .we are praying for healing for our son, but completely trust him to God’s plan, whatever that is . . .”

So humbling.

Remember, God communicated his presence to us in two ways. Through his creation and through his words.

Typed words on a page.

Consider this and the smaller lampposts along your path when you’re wondering exactly why you’re on this crazy writing journey. Maybe it’s not for a James Patterson type paycheck.

But simply for a letter like this . . . and the impact your words will have for one person.

Would this be enough for you to keep going if God has placed the call to write on your heart?

This post first appeared on Elaine Stock’s Everyone’s Story. Check her blog out.

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11 thoughts on “The Letter

  1. Thank you for reminding me to look for God’s lamp posts (great term) I have been impressed to write of my own journey to faith in Jesus. My memoir of a life of abuse as a child and an adult and finally hideous betrayal, Yet throughout it all.. God kept reaching for me.
    I have found your words very encouraging. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for the reminder. I write because God has directed it. And I will leave my email address in my next book. It would be nice to hear hiw God used my obedience.

  3. Jordyn, thank for a wonderful post. I think as Christian authors, one of our missions is to touch people’s lives. Before my novel was published, one of my first readers sent me an email saying not to take a particular scene out of the book because it ministered to her and brought her closer to God. In my spirit I heard God say, “If this book never gets published, it has served My purpose because it brought her closer to Me.”
    I include my website in my books so readers can contact me. Now, I’m thinking the email address my be more effective because it seems more personal.
    Thanks again.

  4. I like your term “God’s lamp posts” too, Jordyn! It’s comforting to remember why we write and to look for the lamp posts along the way! Thank you!

  5. I’ve come to think that the bestsellers may indicate less than we think. If we do not write merely for entertainment–which popular reading so often does–then the impact our words have on one individual, or a series of single individuals, is our calling.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Jordyn. Wondering where God is taking us, I think, is a common experience for Christian writers. Your words confirm the prayer in my morning devotions today – that the Holy Spirit will grant me the Spirit of Wisdom to look beyond the perishable things of the world and aspire to the things that are eternal. Blessings on you!

  7. Wow, Jordyn, you crawled inside my skin. Your words resonated. It seems like my mind travels in circles regarding my writing life, and each time the circle gets larger. It may take longer to reach the lowest point, but the bottom is lower. These circles happen for me when I’m between contracts. After that, I’m too busy to even think. Ha. But I needed to hear this encouragement because I do have reader-moments. I think I’ll put more tokens around my desk to remind me of the readers who have touched my life.

    • That’s a great idea! I know– I’m in that book proposal getting ready to submit phase too– plus editing. A time when I wonder if there is anything redeemable about my writing! I guess we need those periods too to appreciate the high points– like supportive letters from readers.

  8. Beautifully stated, and perfectly timed! Thank you for sharing your “lamppost” moment with us – so encouraging. I am slowly learning to pull myself out of the way, and let God command who is touched by my words, what those words must be, and what fruits are gained. For they are always gained, but as you stated, not always in the ways you perceive. Great post, thank you!

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