I was driving my daughter to school one morning when, just as we were about to turn a corner, a huge buck bounded out in front of us. We both caught our breath as I slammed on the brakes. Then a tiny little black and white dog came charging out after the buck. We both cracked up with laughter. That little dog looked so ridiculous, so confident that it was he that was in control, yipping at the heels of that magnificent creature.
Sometimes, as a writer, I think I’m like that little dog, chasing after something beautiful - the reality of Christ in my life, for instance - trying to capture it, foolishly thinking it is I who controls the process and what happens with the words I use to express it. I put them down carefully, striving to capture with clarity and power the incident or thought or image I am trying to use to convey something about Him.
Sometimes I’m quite proud of myself when I’m finished. Sometimes, when I’ve finished writing my devotional column, for instance, I’ll think, “Ah yes, this piece is well crafted and will accomplish good things. People will respond to this one.”
And my inbox is noticeably silent.
But other times, when I think, “Well, Lord, there’s really not much there, but this seems to be what you wanted, so I pray that you can use it in someone’s life today.” I hit the send button with that prayer on my lips.
And my inbox overflows with comments like – “you have no idea how much that meant to me,” or “This one is exactly what I needed today.”
Over the years I’ve learned that it is God who controls what happens with my words. He’s the one who knows the deep needs of my readers and the words that will draw them closer to Him. He’s the one who has the plan. All he requires of me is that I show up and type.
That’s good to remember when the realities of publishing hit me square in the face. When I realize that I may not ever make money writing fiction, it’s good to remember that it was God who led me to write it. When I realize that
Max Lucado has an audience of millions while mine is less than five thousand, it’s good to remember what God has done with my words, over and over again. Like the young woman who read my novel One Smooth Stone and called her mother to say, “I think I finally believe God does love me in spite of everything.” Or the one in Iraq who read my devotional and wrote to say “I have to deal with the bombs and fighting every day, but this was beautiful – it made me look outside the box I’m in and thank God for every blessing.” Or the woman in the Middle East whose husband won’t allow her to leave the house but allows her access to the internet. “I think I am loving this Jesus you talk about,” she says.
It doesn’t take a big audience or a big bank account to be part of what God intends to accomplish with our words. All it takes is obedience.
So I try to remember that little black and white dog. I try to be obedient and just show up and type.