Years ago, when I was struggling against self-sabotaging fears about the worth of my writing and my ability to finish a novel, I labored in prayer. I wasn’t interested in marketing in the sense of gaining the most sales possible. If that were my sole aim, I’d have chosen different content. I wanted to be sure that God was really calling me to this endeavor. Writing is big in my family, my father was a writer and editor, then a publicist, who made his living with words. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t merely doing something that came naturally.
Sounds pretty pretentious to think one can hear from God on specific matters, I suppose, especially on the bland, secularized diet most religious institutions feed people. There may be homey stories that make us feel good about ourselves, perhaps teaching on morality and ethics, the ten commandments and maybe the two that Jesus gave on loving God and each other. But God’s will is better understood as a relationship demanding total surrender which transforms the heart, which in turn leads us to turn toward goodness, and delivers us from deeds of the dark. In His Presence we rejoice in His grace, we walk by faith, giving secondary consideration to what we see, feel, and hear. We develop our spiritual sixth sense.
Psalm 19 gives wonderful insight into hearing from God. “Day to day utters speech, and night to night reveals knowledge,” it states, further explaining that the voice of God which is always ready to reveal more to us is speaking in a universal language: “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”
Further, God is capable of tailoring His utterance to each heart. God has a specific will for each of us, a plan which can be discerned, a path which has many turns and twists but in which we have His imminent guidance. Check out John 16:13, Jer 29:11, Jn 10:27; the many examples of Paul in the book of Acts including Acts 18:9-11. “Oh, that’s just for Paul, Peter and John, and Jeremiath was a prophet, they were all special.” Yes, they were, but the word of God is clear that we, too can have the same closeness with God, albeit unique missions.
“And let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (NKJV)
This is one of the verses which I have prayerfully adapted to my writing. Appropriating Jesus as the Author and the Finisher of my books, I write what He’s shown me to write. Every part of the process is subject to Him, to the best of my ability (it’s always going to be through me as the imperfect filter and the lens). It’s my job as an author to keep consulting with Him, and in this He is ever faithful. I know I will always have a ways to go in hearing accurately and fully, but at least I’ve left!
I wonder what scriptures Paul was leaning on as he ministered with Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus? What did he mutter to himself as he was making a tent? Surely his letters are full of the utterances of God for the new covenant. We know what the verses were that were flowing through David, as they are documented in the Psalms, Chronicles, Kings, and by Solomon in Proverbs.
My verse is not a formula, some mantra I began to say before and after every writing session. It is a meditation of the heart. As I meditated on its truth while writing, God spoke to me through it. He showed me how to write, led me to resources I could learn from, gave counsel on how to budget my time, advised on character, plot and dialogue. God is an awesome writer. Just look at the bible!
This is not meant to imply that my books have the validity of scripture. No one may add or take away from the canon that makes up the law and the prophets, or the writings of the new testament which emerged from them after the life and finished work of Jesus the Christ.
Gathering it firmly in my mind the truth that Jesus is the author and finisher of my novels has helped me to rest in His guiding hand over my writing sessions. I want only to communicate how this has allowed me to co-create with joy, in a rich flow of His Spirit. As revisions mounted in number, I had to place my faith all the more on the great Finisher that the story would one day be done. And eventually, with each piece of fiction, there has come a time when I knew that it was ready.