About mindyferguson

Mindy Ferguson is an author, bible teacher, and conference speaker. She is the author of five books, including the Eyewitness Bible Study series published by AMG Publishers. Her newest Bible study, Eyewitness to Glory: Moses, is now available. Mindy enjoys spending her spare time with her husband and their two adult children.

God’s Goodness in the Rearview Mirror

What a strange sticker, I thought to myself as I glanced at the rear window of a small car sitting in the lane next to me at a red light. At first glance, the sign was illegible because the words were backwards. The sticker had been applied on the inside of the window rather than the outside, as it was designed to be displayed. But as I focused more intently on the words and read in reverse, I realized the sign read, “God is Always Good.”

For a moment, I wondered why the petite, middle-aged woman driving the car would have applied the sticker improperly. Surely she recognized that other drivers would have a difficult time reading the awkwardly displayed sign. But as I gave the scenario more thought, I realized she hadn’t applied that sign to her window for other drivers. She had placed the sign there for herself. It was positioned slightly off center so it could be seen (and easily read) every time she glanced into her rearview mirror.

I felt an immediate sense of kinship with this unknown woman. I too have experienced seasons in my life when I needed visual reminders of God’s goodness. I taped “[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11) on the dashboard of my car when I received a letter from yet another publishing house saying, “Your study is well written, but we aren’t accepting new Bible study authors at this time.” I wrote “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) on my bathroom mirror when my heart was broken over a tragic loss. I’ve even written Scripture passages on my hands when I was feeling particularly down or discouraged.  

As the traffic light changed from red to green and we drove in different directions, I lifted up a prayer for this mysterious woman who chooses to keep God’s goodness ever present in her rearview mirror. I would imagine her focus upon the goodness of our God will give her the strength she needs to make her way through whatever challenges she encounters on the road of life.

You may not want to paste a sign on the rear window of your car, but during seasons of disappointment or trial, I encourage you to write Scripture that testifies to God’s goodness and faithfulness in prominent places around your home, in your car, or at your workplace. You’ll find greater strength and courage for whatever lies ahead in your writing journey.

What passages of Scripture encourage you most when you are feeling discouraged?

Sitting and Receiving

How is your writing going?

I usually feel uncomfortable answering that question. However, I’ve discovered the answer is often linked to an even more intimidating question. How is your quiet time going?

Thankfully, I have people in my life who care enough to ask me that question. I must admit, there have been seasons when my quiet time wasn’t going well at all. There have even been periods of time when I yielded to the temptation to skip my time with the Lord all together.

At one point last year, after about a month of whispering arrow prayers to God as I rushed from one task to the next, I broke down in tears. I missed my connection with my Lord. I was exhausted and weary. I knew I desperately needed unstructured time with Him. I finally put my to-do list aside, opened my Bible, and just started reading. I longed to connect with God and sense His presence. I was hungry for His Word and thirsty for His Spirit. As I read in John chapter six, I came across the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand and noticed something unique about John’s description of the event.

Crowds of people were gathered, and they needed to eat. When one of Jesus’ disciples identified a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, Jesus said,

“Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place and the men sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish (John 6:10-11 NIV).

Our Lord told the people to sit down, and about five thousand men sat on that grassy mountainside, anxious to receive what Jesus had for them. He distributed to those who were seated. As I read and re-read the words, “to those who were seated,” it occurred to me that some of the people on that mountainside chose not to sit down. If you are familiar with the account of that amazing event, you know those five loaves of bread and two fish miraculously fed everyone who was seated, with twelve baskets of leftovers to spare.

As I questioned why some of the people would choose not to sit down and receive the sustenance Jesus was offering them, God’s tender conviction washed over me.  I realized I had been just like the people who chose to remain standing. I had been so busy writing and checking off tasks from my to-do list, I hadn’t taken time to sit and receive the spiritual food Jesus had to sustain me and strengthen me and inspire me.

Are you taking time to sit and receive the sustenance Jesus has for you? I can relate to a hectic schedule and deadlines that make setting aside time with our Lord seem difficult. However, if your writing isn’t going well, perhaps you need to have a seat on a grassy mountainside with your Lord. Whether you need inspiration or direction, or simply a few words of encouragement, Jesus has more than enough to sustain you with baskets full to spare. Sometimes, we have to sit in order to receive.

So, my fellow writing friends, how is your quiet time going?

A Gracious “No” and a Greater Glory

Do you have difficulty telling people “no” and setting good, healthy boundaries in order to stick to your writing schedule? I have to admit, sometimes I do. But in order to meet my current writing deadline, I have to be more diligent about protecting my time. I am a morning person, so my designated writing time is from eight in the morning to noon, four days a week.

Just after determining my weekly word count for the year and setting goals to meet my December deadline, some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile invited me to join them for a long lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.  I needed to say no. I stammered. I paused . . .  I caved. I went to lunch and thoroughly enjoyed catching up. However, as a result, I got behind and ended up spending Saturday at the office, missing family time, in order to stay on schedule.

I would venture to say, most Christian writers do what we do from a deep sense of mission. We feel “called” to write, and we want to glorify God with our work.  Jesus glorified God on earth by completing the work He was given to do (John 17:4). In order to complete His mission, Jesus had to stay focused, and there were times He had to say “no” to what appeared to be great opportunities.

One time, after teaching and performing miracles in the synagogue at Capernaum, word spread, and by evening the entire town gathered at Simon Peter’s house where Jesus “healed many” and “drove out many demons” (Mark 1:34). What happened next serves as a great example for those of us who need to stay focused and struggle to say “no.”

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’  Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (Mark 1:35-38 NIV).

Jesus said “no” because he needed to remain focused on his mission. If we want to complete the work God has given us to do, we also have to be willing to say “no” to wonderful, yet distracting opportunities.

So, I’d like to share a few tips I’ve found helpful in my effort to graciously say “no” and remain focused on my writing mission:

  1. Pray. Spend focused time in a solitary place, talking with your Father. Prayerfully plan your schedule; seek His guidance for your writing and the way you spend your time.  It is easier to say “no” without feeling guilty when you’ve prayed over your writing schedule.
  2. Protect your writing time. Set aside a specific time to write and schedule it in your calendar (or your phone) just as you would record a doctor’s appointment. When someone asks you about your availability, you can avoid facing a perplexed stare or wrinkled brow as you apologetically explain why you need to spend the time writing. Instead, you can simply say you are booked at that time.
  3. Present alternatives.  When an invitation interferes with your writing schedule, offer alternative times when you are available, or make an effort to arrange something at a later date. It’s easier to say “no” now when you are offering to say “yes” later.
  4. Plan some flexibility. Some interruptions are inevitable and necessary. There will be days when the urgent gains our attention. So, prepare for interruptions when you set your writing goals. For instance, my daughter graduates this May, and she will be going off to college in the fall. I’ve incorporated gaps in my writing calendar during the months of May and August. Plan some flexibility. Get ahead when you can. Catch up when you get behind.

What additional tips can you offer to help all of us graciously say “no” so we can stay focused and complete the great works God has placed upon our hearts to write for His glory?