If you’ve been in the church for a millisecond, you, most likely, have heard this verse. It’s simple, yet it is powerful. The promises in it sound too good to be true, and if I truly believed this verse 100% of the time, I would never be afraid.
But I have some things to work on.
I began to cling to this verse this past summer. As I thought about heading into my final year of college, the pressure reached a level that was unknown to me. In a few short months I would be finishing school forever. I would have to get a real person job. To make matters worse, I studied writing in college. We all know that’s a gold mine of a profession. The unspoken truth about writing is that it is actually terrifying. Many of my friends wouldn’t guess it, but writing is an incredibly vulnerable thing. Don’t believe me? How about you go into a room, spend a couple of hours writing about something that’s important to you, and post it on the internet. Then let me know how vulnerable you feel.
I have been ready to give up on writing before I truly began.
Because it’s risky and scary and makes my stomach feel weird.
If there is one thing I’ve been taught, though, it’s never to give up. So this past weekend, I went to the Indiana Faith and Writing Conference at Anderson University with other students from the Professional Writing department. I sat in fantastic lectures given by talented writers. I met people with incredible stories and visions. I found myself thankful that some of the tips sounded more like review because of the courses I’ve taken at Taylor.
And I found myself encouraged.
I’ve noticed a pattern in my life. I always feel closest to God when I am out of my element. When I found myself in a room with writers who seemed a million times more confident than me, I was out of my element. I felt like a blind person being led through a crowded room.
“Alright, God, I don’t know what you’re doing, but I feel like I’m about to hit a pole. Can you just make sure I don’t hit a pole?”
Guess what? He kept me from hitting a poll, and in the midst of it all, he handed me encouragement. Every speaker at the conference reiterated all of the things that my parents and friends have been telling me for years. “Just keep trying. You have a story, so write.” Sorry, Mom and Dad, but I guess I just needed authors like Ken Abraham to tell me that. At the end of the conference, as I sat in the final session, eyes glazed over and brain mussy, a clear thought formed in my mind. I know it was from God because I was no longer thinking in complete sentences at that point.
It was a simple phrase. “Stop writing what you think you should write. Write what you ought to write.”
Write what you ought to write.
Sometimes, I become so focused on what I think I should be doing, on what I should be writing. In those moments, I wonder if God shakes his head and wonders when I’ll realize that it’s not about what I think I should do. It’s about what I ought to do. Recently, James 4:17 has been kicking my butt because it’s harsh and sounds politically incorrect. But it’s a piece of truth nonetheless. “Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” Attending the conference this past weekend reminded me of this truth. Sometimes I worry that I hide behind what I think I should write because writing what I ought to write is scary and risky.
Yet, God called me to write. He called me to trust. I believe this calling is still on my life.
So each day I’m choosing to wake up and write what I ought to write.