Friday, December 3, 2010

A Chance to Write

The following is an essay I recently submitted to a writer's contest. Winners have since been announced and although I was not one of them, I am deeply grateful for the contest and its theme "When Writing Made a Difference." I was encouraged to take a look at why I write and who I write for. God revealed many things to me that I had long since forgotten. I encourage each of you to ask yourselves "When ____ Made a Difference." Fill in the blank with something that encourages and motivates your life. Ask yourself how God has used that to make a difference in life. Praise Him for it and ask for His continued guidance in fulfilling the gifts He's given.

Words are always present. I find them floating around in my head throughout the day. They swim across my dreams at night. They call to me in the quietness begging me to write. I hear them, but I don’t always listen. I want to write. I’ve been told that I write with such heart and conviction. When I stop writing, readers ask for more. Something inside of me is set free when words finally make it to paper, but so often they remain hidden within my quiet soul. The enemy fills my mind with doubts and despair, whispering, “You’ll never be good enough. There are so many publishers; you’ll never find one to take a chance on you. Blogs don’t count. E-mails aren’t credible. Look at all of the pages that you’ve yet to publish. Stop while you can and find a real job.” I fight to escape these lies, but they take hold and I stop mid sentence leaving pages void of thought.

This was the writing void I found myself in before I discovered the writings of Amy Carmichael. As a young woman, Amy recognized a call on her life to take the message of Jesus Christ to people in distant lands. In her mid twenties, Amy found herself taking on a lifelong position as a missionary in India. It was for this reason that a close friend of mine encouraged me to read Amy’s biography entitled A Chance to Die written by author and missionary Elizabeth Elliot. I picked up the book expecting to be filled with an excitement and yearning to head to the mission field overseas, but instead I re-discovered the writing mission God placed within my heart years ago. Amy Carmichael was not only a great missionary, but she was also an extraordinary writer.

The most unique part of Amy’s life as a writer was that she never intended to be a published author. She simply wrote because of the passion within her to express the need of the ministry and the people she served. She kept a daily journal, wrote letters of praise to staff, sent encouraging words to friends, and mailed hundreds of newsletters home to family and friends. Amy followed no guidelines. She went against tradition and wrote from her heart sharing the harsh realities of missionary life, the desperate need for workers, and the miraculous ways God provided for the people both spiritually and physically. She would often receive letters back from the mission offices at home asking her to edit and reconstruct her words to fit within the guidelines of the church or community. On one occasion, when her work did go before publishers, Amy was asked to re-write her manuscript making missions work more appealing to readers. Amy refused and instead sent back a new title for her work, which was Things as They Are.

Amy Carmichael did not write with the intention of making money for herself, raising money for missions, or to become one of the greatest writers of her time. God gave her a gift with words and she honored that gift by writing. She devoted hours upon hours to using words to express her heart and love for the people and God she served. The only guidelines Amy Carmichael adhered to were the ones written within her heart. She left the end results of all of her writings to the will of God and it was He who ensured that her writings caught the eyes of the publishers in order to reach a greater multitude of readers.

The writings of Amy Carmichael re-ignited the writer within me. I’ve come to realize that I write because I’m a writer. A passion burns within me to communicate the words God has given me. I write not to raise money, make a living, or become a well known author (although that would be nice). I write because it is my life, my soul, my very being. If God so grants me the privilege of becoming a published author, I will be ecstatic beyond words. Should my words never reach a published market, yet somehow find their way to the one reader that needs them most, I will be in awe that such a mighty God would allow me to be part of such mighty works of His love!

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