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The Writing Fast


Anyone who knows me will know I am deeply stubborn. I have this innate tenacity that I can tap into to push past boundaries - to write that assignment in one sitting; to sort that spare room with fervour; to stick to a writing idea and finish writing the book in months, one time even in a week. So when I was two weeks postpartum, of course I thought I should snap right back into writing a novel.


Yeah...


First child. Traumatic birth. Living on barely 2 hours sleep and I thought I should be writing another novel.


I tried everything. I tried writing 'badly' straight into the blogosphere to take away the pressure of creating something eloquent or narratively strong. I even tried squeezing writing ideas out of my husband - who obliged - but after a while just kinda shrugged and said, 'well, I don't know what happens next.' I picked up old ideas. I journalled new ideas, including a story on postpartum anxiety and depression (because THAT was happening too).


Nine months later, in January, as we took our son for a long drive, God's soft whisper finally hit me - I want you to give up writing fiction for Me. Just trust and wait.


Woah! Give up? That wasn't even in my vocabulary. He wanted me to fast from fiction? This was what defined me. I was a storyteller, a writer - if I wasn't that, what was I?


I resisted at first. I cried. A lot. My husband was probably wondering what on earth was going on but he didn't ask questions. He drove. I cried and argued with God. (Note to self, that never ends in God saying, 'Okay, Okay, you win, keep your fiction, I'll bless it.' Never.)


At first I told him I would do it but that I would be bitter about it. (Stubborn, much?) Then, after about an hour's drive, we were almost home, and I sighed and just let it go. And for the first time in nine months, I felt at peace. I would fast from writing fiction, and God - as it turned out - wanted me to let go of how I thought of writing. He wanted me to close the doors on all those ideas I had swirling about.


In the coming weeks, I realised I had made writing an idol and if it was going to be used for his glory then he had to come first. I set it aside and went back to study at uni for a semester - Reformation Church History. There are too many God orchestrated moments to document here, but as it turned out God really wanted me in that class. And I ended up falling in love with a period of history I had known little about when I started. Then, part way through the semester, God revealed the novel I would write for Him - well, am writing for Him. And part of it had to be set in this historical period. He confirmed it in so many ways - after all, I wasn't going to dare try to write again unless He gave me the go ahead. Again and again over weeks He sent me signs all pointing to this story idea. But there were conditions. First, it would need to be Jesus-centred. Then, I would need to be content with working slowly. No stubborn tenacity required for this project, only the quiet commitment to slowly and steadily chip away at it as the Lord revealed. This was not the way I usually worked. But I was just so grateful to be writing again and dreaming again that I didn't mind. It was God's way and I knew that He would bless it, because He had called me to this project.


But first, however, He had to clear a path for it. He needed me to stop and listen. I needed to stop trying to do everything in my own strength.


'For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. "Why have we fasted," they say, "and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?" Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.'

ISAIAH 58:2‭-‬4 NIV


I was doing as I pleased with my God-given gift and calling. I wasn't seeking the Lord. I had made an idol of writing and God needed to take that and transform it into something that was God-honouring again. Then and only then, would come Isaiah 58 11...


'The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.'

ISAIAH 58:11 NIV


Guide.


Satisfy.


Strengthen.


Ever-flowing. Evergreen.


We have an eternal God who wants to give us supernatural resources, but sometimes, we just need to stop trying so hard in our own strength. Like John writes, I must decrease and HE - Jesus - must increase.


When we decrease, that is when God takes over. When He guides us continually. When He satisfies our needs as though we are a sun scorched land. When He strengthens our frames. We're not simply getting by any more, we're thriving. Flourishing. We become an ever-flowing spring by God's grace.


'The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.'

ISAIAH 58:11


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Elizabeth is a writer and the founder of Daughters of Love and Light. She has a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing and is studying a Master of Divinity. She has released a fantasy trilogy, two novellas (including The Battle for Harenburg Hill), a book of poetry, and most recently the standalone novel, The Watson Women (Elizabeth Calder, D.O.L.L. 2021). Elizabeth lives in South Australia with her husband and young son and is currently working on a novel set during the Reformation, a historical period she finds fascinating.