Hands and Knees Navigation

“Perhaps the greatest achievement of writing is to become less sure of oneself.”
~ Brian Doyle

The aged rarely hurry. Time and use and strain deplete muscle and bone and marrow of youth’s vigor, suffusing the void with a dichotomy of uncertainty and wisdom which beg measured steps.

Writing likewise begs an unhurried pace. My fingers manage about 70 words per minute when I transcribe the exact words of someone else. My own thoughts might read in my mind with equal clarity and run toward a clear destination, but they’ll crowd over one another and onto a page at a somewhat slower WPM.

What’s more likely is a meeting between a sheet of white before my eyes, strands of understanding and feelings in my mind and heart, and a gripping compulsion in my soul to bring concrete shape to the altogether abstract. My fingers then wander and grasp for each word as they crawl across the page.

For fiction and non-fiction alike, whether my outline and components are defined with precise or rough edges, the navigation of crawling requires the use of both hands and knees. Whatever gift I have, however developed my writing craft, no amount of raw talent and polished skill can bridge the spiritual and mortal without divine empowerment.

“I am like a little pencil in God’s hand. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.”
~ Mother Teresa

Do I believe I can present some worthy work that originates with me? Or do I simply offer myself to God, asking Him to use me for His work?

If our writing is His means of conveying stories and ideas and a purpose bigger than the entertainment or information transfer we’d otherwise compose, then allowance must be made for God to be actively engaged in our writing.

The suggestion to pray throughout the process of writing may be stating the obvious to you, or it may be a great new idea. Either way, this reminder comes with a few practical pointers:

• Before sitting down to write, check with the Lord for other priorities.
• If writer’s block strikes, be still and wait for the Lord’s leading.
• Allow God to take an idea in another direction than you had in mind.
• Edit with a spiritual eye, asking God’s Spirit what is pleasing to Him.
• Work toward deadlines with intentional room for chats with the Lord.
• Seek God to resolve conflict (with schedule, editor, outline, etc.).
• Prioritize time with God’s Word to sharpen your power with words.
• Shelve preconceived ideas of God’s intent and timing for the end product.
• Recognize, thank, and praise the Lord for every blessing along the way.
• Before considering a work complete, ask God if you missed anything.

[May God] make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
~ Hebrews 13:21 (NKJV)

What other specific elements bring the Lord into your writing?
Do you have a testimony of God at work through your words?

Is it my whim or God’s Will?

I’m often either asked this question or have discussed this with other Christians. With so many gray areas in life—where doing a variety of things would fall inside the will of God—we long to know the choice God would have us make. What’s the best path?


I’ve met a number of aspiring writers who wrestle with this issue, too. Many people “have a book in them.” Perhaps they start writing as an experiment to see if they can really get some words down on paper. At this point it’s more of a whim. Some people give up relatively quickly; they find the idea of writing more fun than writing. They never make it a priority, letting other interests in life take precedence. For them, writing is probably a whim.


But there are others who find writing exhilarating. They delight in exploring and expressing what’s on their heart, something they’re certain will benefit others. At some point they become convinced God is blessing their efforts, and they want to share what they’ve written on a larger scale, often through publication.


So at this point does it cease being a whim and become something they’re just beginning to realize was God’s will all along? Has God called them to be a writer?


I’ve heard it said there are only three answers to our prayers: Yes, No, or Wait. But even when we get clear answers, the results aren’t always what we expect.


Sometimes when we think God is leading us in one direction and we come upon a closed door, we might think that means No. For example, if publication doesn’t happen is God saying no to your writing efforts? Every writer I know, regardless of how talented, has been rejected in one way or another. I know one writer who worked toward publication for twenty years. How many of us would have given up on a goal long before that?


I’m in the midst of a wonderful Beth Moore Bible Study right now, and one of the personal examples she gave included how she seeks God’s will for her own life. They include these ideas:

Begin by making a really specific prayer request. Don’t be shy when asking God for direction!


Look to Scripture for an answer. The Bible is how God talks to us these days. It’s always amazing to see how timeless the Bible is; people who lived two or three thousand years ago really aren’t much different, at least on the inside, than we are today.


Ask God to help us recognize the answer. Staying in the habit of being in continual communication with God is always a good idea!


Ask God for confirmation.


Did you notice a couple things? All of these steps demand a certain amount of time, as well as a lot of prayer.


I would add one more thing. I’ve always thought it a good idea to consult other trusted Christian friends. With writers, it’s important that we seek outside input with our projects—from trusted and experienced eyes. Is the input from others confirming the direction we feel led to take?


So what kind of methods do you use to determine whether your next project, the next turn in life, the choices you make, would be a whim or God’s will for you to follow?

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