One of my favorite Old Testament stories is about Moses and the Israelites when they’ve just left Egypt. They’d only been gone a short time when God directed Moses to turn back and camp by the Red Sea. God planned to harden Pharaoh’s heart and have him send armies to pursue the Israelites – not so the Israelites could be destroyed, but so they could see God perform a miracle and so the Egyptians would see that He was Lord.
Moses did as he was told, and God took the plan from there. Pharaoh sent all his horses, horsemen and troops to overtake the Israelites. The Israelites were stuck between Pharaoh’s army and the sea – and neither option looked good. They immediately began to whine at Moses, demanding to know why he’d brought them out into the desert to die and claiming they had wanted to stay in Egypt as slaves. “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” they cried (Exodus 14:12b).
Then Moses gave an incredible answer: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).
What happened next? God told Moses to hold his staff out over the sea, so Moses did. The Lord drove the sea back with a mighty wind and dried the ground so the Israelites could cross in safety.
Not exactly the answer the people had expected, but it sure did work! And God definitely showed everyone exactly Who He was and what kind of power He had.
I wonder how hard it was for the Israelites to stand there, watching Pharaoh’s army bear down upon them and wondering what in the world was going to happen next. Did they have enough trust in Moses yet to believe the message he passed on, or did they still tremble in their sandals? Then when the wind came and the sea parted, did they nearly collapse in shock, or did they jump for joy? And how did it feel to walk through two tremendous walls of water that you knew were only being held in place because of God’s hand?
Lots of questions, and lots of lessons to be learned. But how does it all relate to writing? In quite a few ways, when I’m honest with myself.
I write because I believe God has called me to, just as He called the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. It looks like a grand thing and I’m excited about doing it, but sometimes my excitement can get in the way. I want to plot and plan and whip out things to submit. I love an idea and can hardly wait to put in on paper and share it with someone. I hope and pray for acceptance instead of rejection, and do whatever I can to “help” the process along.
But maybe that’s not my job sometimes. Maybe my job is to listen for God’s voice and just stand still. Stop worrying about plot points or character bios or how to write for a particular publisher. Stop wondering if I’ll ever need an agent and who that person might be. Stop trying to plan it all myself. Wait for God to take over.
Of course, sometimes I fall to the other extreme, and want to stop when God wants me to go on. I get discouraged when someone rejects an article or query, or when a reader gives me comments that aren’t what I’d hoped for. I let writer’s block get the best of me or let other things take away my writing time.
For whatever reason I find myself there, I need to turn away from the army that’s bearing down and look at the open, dry ground instead. I need to remember that if God has called me to this, then it is my job to follow His direction and do the best I can with the gifts He has given me. No matter how many rejections or disappointments I might face, God has laid out a path for me to follow – straight through the seemingly impossible obstacles and on to the version of the Promised Land He has for me.
I don’t know exactly what’s there or when I’ll arrive, other than it will be just the way God wants it. The God who has the power to move heaven and earth is the same God who will see me through. I just have to be still – and then follow.
What kinds of writing obstacles are in your way this week? Are you stuck between the army and the sea, wondering what to do or which way God wants you to go? We’re here to encourage and uplift each other, and consider it a privilege to pray for each other. Share your requests with us in the comments section, and know you’ll be in our prayers this week.