February 26, 2019

A Poke in the Gut - Marnie Pohlmann

Did you notice this post is late?

Today is my assigned day to write for the Inscribe Writers Online blog, but I have successfully procrastinated as I am struggling with the theme.

"How are you spurring others in your faith and writing? How are others spurring you towards love and God-honouring writing?"

The other posts this month have many wonderful messages on how writers give and receive encouragement in their faith and writing. But I have to say, if I don't write, am I being spurred on? Am I spurring on others to live their faith out loud? Am I spurring on others to continue their writing no matter where they are in the journey?

I am not saying I have no support or encouragement to write or walk with God, or that I don’t inadvertently reassure or cheer someone else. My husband hands me pen and paper whenever he can tell I am in angst. Family and friends speak words of wisdom that encourage my faith, and words of appreciation for the messages of my writing. You, dear readers, often comment on my words as well as their form. I have come to believe I make a difference in the lives of others, and others certainly make a difference in my life.

Yet do I write? Do I write more? No.
I try.  ๐Ÿคจ Yes, I see that raised eyebrow showing your skepticism, but I really am fighting in the battle. Somehow, other activities replace writing time. Physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion refuse to let the words in my head seep through to the keyboard. 

Through the last few years of rebellion and hurt, healing and refreshment, I have neglected to enforce the habit of writing. I know it is what I need to do to sort the chaos that spins in my brain, to find the Truth of how to process and live life. But that is not what spurs me to write.

Knowing others look forward to my writing is encouraging. But whether my writing touches others is a side effect, a by-product of sorts. That is not what spurs me to write.

Of course, I like to see my name in print. (Have you read the latest FellowScript?) and I like to have hits, likes, comments, and followers online. But not even that is what spurs me to write.

When I think of "spur" I know the word is meant as “encouraging.” Yet the first thing I see is not a hug but the metal jangling on a cowboy's boot, meant to encourage his mount forward. There are other meanings, but I picture the Western spur.

Most times, that spur is a gentle nudge, an urging for the horse to do the rider's bidding. Some horses can be encouraged forward by a gentle tap of the boot or pull on the reigns. These soft hints seem to not register with me.

Sometimes a horse does need to be spurred on by more than a gentle nudge. Encouragement from others is what is needed to move us forward in faith or writing. These spurs of praise, encouragement, or opportunity are clearer, but still seem not to work with me.

Occasionally, riders use sharper, more pointed spikes on their spurs. These spurs are not meant to harm, (though often the movies will have a black hat character be the one to use them for cruelty) but more often to get the attention of a particularly stubborn or unruly horse.

God, too, often employs the sharper spurs that poke deeper. These spurs are not meant to harm, but to direct and teach. When I ignore the other kinds of prompting God employs His Word, that sharp two-edged sword, to poke me in the gut.

Today I knew I had missed my deadline and was okay with that as I was still sniffling and coughing with the remains of my grandchildren's visit. Then God once again spurred me on. 

One of the many devotionals I do (some daily, others when I can, others only when I see them in front of me) has italicized the words of Isaiah 41:13. 

"For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'"

This was the verse God spoke to me moments before I was first diagnosed with cancer. I was reminded of all God had done in my life and I knew with certainty that He would hold my right hand throughout what was to come. God has fought for me, comforted me, given me a physical and eternal family, provided healing kisses to my unseen pains... throughout my life.

I felt conviction from the Holy Spirit (not the condemnation of the evil one.) How can I worship God, who holds my right hand? God loved me before I knew Him and loves me even as I still discover who He is. Recognizing that Truth is when I am spurred to write, filled with a desire to write.

Whether journaling, praying, lamenting, praising or imagining, the deep need God has placed in me to write is awakened and I pick up the pen. I get excited. The words begin to flow. I am moved forward in the direction my Master wants me to go, at the speed He wants me to grow, in the company of those He wants me to know. 

I am spurred to write by God who uses His Word to poke me in the gut and move me forward in His path. Even if I struggle with disobedience at first and am late meeting the deadline.

 *photos courtesy of Pixabay, CCO license

Marnie writes from the British Columbian north, which is actually the center of the Province. At this time our land is white, which is kind of like the center of an Oreo cookie where all the deliciousness is. Being raised by God from a valley time of dry bones, she is being spurred to share her writing here and, in her blog, Phosphorescent.


  1. Thanks for this honest and heart warming post ... I struggled with the theme as well, and had many of those same questions and issues you mentioned. I also was thinking of the spur that you pictured, the spur is often more harsh than hug. I'm glad you responded to the spurring on and put your questions to type. I've been blessed. Hope the sniffles subside.

    1. Thanks, Jocelyn, for letting me know I am not the only one who questioned what spurs me to write.

  2. Another great post Marnie. It was a tough subject for me too. Many of the difficulties you describe are also what I go through in my lack of writing consistently. All I know is that everything I've read from you has been so good and I hope you keep writing as often as you feel led or 'poked in the gut' as you say.

    1. Gloria, I think that even if we wrote more, or even more consistently, we may still be questioning if we spur on anyone else. Some writers never get the feedback Inscribe writers share to support one another. Thank you for encouraging me to pay attention to the pokes in the gut.

  3. Thank you once again for this thought provoking message Marnie. I write something most days except Sunday but it's not because I'm on my way to being a world known writer. It's because of my insecurity as a writer. At times even the poke in the gut may not be enough to get me going. These are times when the ghost of depression may stop by for a visit. Perhaps this is my poke in the gut. In an odd way this spurs me on to keep writing. I also cherish being encouraged by other writers Keep writing my friend. We do indeed need each other as we send words into the world to try and make a difference.

  4. Alan, I find it difficult to write during depression- yet I was still able to maintain my posts on Inscribe. Maybe because they were for others, not my own blog? Interesting what writing does for us, isn't it?

  5. Earlier this winter, I wrote my fourth and final column in a series for Fellowscript. The theme I chose for the four issues was "Encouragement: Spurring One Another On." I strongly identify with the topic, because I find that encouragement, Christian encouragement, is one thing that helps the members of InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship thrive. I believe God works among us and that he cheers us on when we congratulate and spur each other on rather than compete with one another.

    What you've said about encouragement in this post, Marnie, has touched me, as your writing often does. Life isn't always easy and still you write. I love the image of your husband handing you pen and paper when he sees you are in angst. This is so loving and beautiful, so encouraging.

    You definitely do make a difference in the lives of others, Marnie. I can identify with your conundrum of writing. If we love writing, why don't we write? Why does it take a spur of the pointy kind to get us going? Why do we need a poke in the gut from God's word or a harsh word from someone else before we put pen to paper?

    You aren't alone in stalling when it comes to writing. This puts me in mind of Paul's letter to the Romans where, in Chapter 7: 14-25, he complains about not understanding what is going on. "For I do not do the good I want to do. . ." Inspired by your writing, I read this passage again in NIV and in The Message. It's too long to put in here, but it is something to think about, if you follow my logic.

    May God continue to bless you and guide you, Marnie.

    1. Sharon, thank you for such kind words. I think as writers we often "get" each other, but having Christ in common extends that from understanding to encouragement.
      I, too, like to read Scripture in various versions as part of my study. I am aware which are translated by word, which are translated by thought, and which are paraphrased, so all together they make for greater understanding, I feel.
      You, too, keep on writing and sharing. You have a gift of encouragement.

  6. Funny, I delayed in commenting because I had nothing that sounded fresh and creative to say to you Marnie. But I can say that I appreciate your candor and vulnerability. So thank you for spurring us - and me - on by your example.

    1. Bob, doesn't Scripture say there is nothing new under the sun? Fresh and creative is something we all struggle with, isn't it? I hope my spurring was not too sharp ๐Ÿ˜‰


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