Right now, I am wrapping up a writing project that God put on my heart. Finishing a manuscript is a lot of frustration and a lot of fun. In a couple days, it will be time to begin my favorite part: going back to page one and reading through everything I have written, tweaking and rearranging and deleting.
I have written four manuscripts in my lifetime. Twelve Clean Pages (2011) was self-published, Hunting Hope (2016) and Everyday Genesis (2017) were traditionally published, and one finished manuscript has not been published at all … yet. The one I am now finishing will be my fifth. Yet, this project is different from any other writing project I have done because it is fiction.
I have always wanted to write fiction, but I never have because it scared me. When I say I have always wanted to write fiction, I mean ALWAYS. My earliest writing memories are of me at 10 years old, sitting at a typewriter in my bedroom, inventing stories about the high jinks of Texas teenagers who go on a school field trip to London, England. And another one about a girl who moves from Mississippi to Fort Worth and doesn’t get a chance to make friends because she catches a deadly case of the measles.
After elementary school, I never wrote fiction again. Never even attempted it. I told myself I wouldn’t be any good as a fiction writer. That some people are meant to write fiction, and I am not one of them. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that fiction was what God had next for me. I sensed that He wanted to partner with me, and we would have fun. He kept following me around like an eager neighborhood kid, saying, “Can you come out and play?”
But I didn’t see fiction as a playground slide that would be fun to climb. I saw it as a mountain that would be hard to climb. So I kept closing the door in God’s face and telling Him, “Not today. Come back later.”
Then, a few months ago, I got this text.
My reply was something along the lines of: That’s a cool thing to ask, and all, but I’m not really afraid of anything, so I’d have to think long and hard to try to figure out something for you to pray for. How about I sleep on it and tell you tomorrow?
And when I hit send on that text, God replied in my heart before Allison had a chance to reply in my phone: You’re afraid of fiction.
So I wrote back right away and told her I was scared to write fiction. As I typed it to her, my upper lip started to sweat. I shivered with cold chills. My heart raced. I felt nauseated. Even texting the word fiction made me afraid. But in giving that answer to Allison, I was facing my fear for the first time, and if that was the shaky place I had to start, then so be it.
I tell you that story to let you know I understand what you are feeling if God has put a project on your heart that scares you out of your mind. And I came across two verses this morning that you just have to see. I believe they skate together gracefully.
Here is the first verse: “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the One who sent Me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end” John 9:4.
And here is the second verse:
“The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way!
The water of the Jordan River turned away.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs!
What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?
What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?
Why, mountains, did you skip like rams?
Why, hills, like lambs?” Psalm 114:3-6
Obviously, in the first verse Jesus is saying we need to quit wasting time and get after it because we aren’t going to be here much longer. You can read that verse and still feel afraid. You can know that you need to start a project and still see nothing but obstacles between you and finishing it.
That is why I love the second verse. When God’s people were on their way to the Promised Land, they became terrified about all the obstacles on their journey. But they didn’t have to be afraid! When they approached the obstacle of a sea, the sea hurried out of their way. When they approached the obstacle of a river, the river retreated. When they approached the obstacles of mountains and hills, both of them skipped away! Nothing was left in the Israelite’s path. Nothing was going to stand between the people and the promise.
Your project may be writing a book. It may be starting a business. It may be homeschooling your kids for the first time. It may be applying for a job that feels beyond you. Go ahead! Approach that obstacle and watch it move! Nothing is going to stand between you and the promise.
That is what I am declaring over you today because I know it has been true for me. In only five months, I have completed a project that I spent 35 years avoiding. And why did I finally begin? Because a friend dared me to. And she prayed that God would provide all I need along the way.
So let me be the friend who is daring you to start. And let me pray that, very soon, you will be able to say of those rock-solid obstacles in your path:
He turned the rock into a pool of water; yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock. Psalm 114:8