Recently I got an email from a writer friend who was struggling with a piece she was writing. The message of the piece was important to her but when she went back to edit the completed piece, it didn’t feel right. She wanted to scrap it and start over to make it flow better.
Most writers will understand what she was feeling. I know I do! Right now I’m working on my 4th novel. Each day I try to write several hundred words, but so far, the story feels flat and lifeless. At this point in I’m struggling with the process of writing, even though the story line has captured my heart.
As I crafted a reply to encourage my friend, my writer’s imagination kicked in and I began to wonder how the writers of the Bible books felt when they wrote. I always pictured them sitting at their scrolls, quickly penning each word, engrossed in listening as God dictated it to them. In my imagination, they couldn’t ink their quills fast enough.
But today I saw a different picture in my mind. I saw John, an uneducated fisherman turned disciple sitting down to write his Gospel of Jesus, a manuscript about the Son of God who physically walked and talked to him for over 3 years. It’s quite possible that John experienced feelings of being overwhelmed and inadequate with the task of writing his Gospel account. He wasn’t a scribe, trained in the precision of copying the ancient writings. He wasn’t versed in the law like his fellow disciple, the former Pharisee, Paul.
I can imagine John praying, “Lord there’s so much to tell. Where should I start? What should I write about next?” Jesus had been his closest friend on earth and now was his Savior in heaven. He could have written many books about the Son of God. As he prayed, listened and relied on God’s Spirit to guide him, sometimes the words just flowed because John had seen God’s heart and felt the Lord’s passion as it poured through him. He was writing what he had experienced firsthand. But because he was human, I can also picture him agonizing in prayer over each word and waiting for the Spirit’s confirmation as he quoted Jesus to be sure he remembered it exactly right!
John wasn’t some “super saint.” The Holy Spirit became his mentor, helping him to remember the events clearly and set his words down in a way that would speak to people for generations to come. As a writer today, I must strive to be like John. I must always pray first with a listening heart. Sometimes under the Spirit’s inspiration, the words and ideas will flow so fast I can’t keep up. Other times I know it will be hard work requiring a lot of thoughtful listening and prayer to get it right. Thankfully, the same Holy Spirit who mentored John is available to mentor me today as I practice the writing craft to do the best I possibly can for the Lord.
Lord, send your Spirit to us – to mentor, inspire and help us in those tasks that we struggle with. Show us how to do them in a way that will bring glory to you. Amen!
Have you struggled with a task – feeling overwhelmed and wanting/needing to get it right? How has the Lord helped you? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear your story!