(This is a devo I posted in the Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild weekly newsletter today. Though written for writers, it clearly applies to each of us who are striving to authentically live out our callings with focus and tenacity, even when it seems we’re spinning wheels.)
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15
Knowing your audience is key to being a successful writer. You may craft incredible stories and articulate life-changing truths, but, if you remain ignorant to your audience, your efforts will flop. However, as I discovered in a shack in Africa, sometimes there may be less obvious audiences for whom we write.
Liana, Maria and Phuti gathered in what can only be described as a living room. Mud and tin walls blocked the wind but couldn’t do anything to temper the cold. Dirt floors spread out like cement under our feet, packed hard over time and meticulous sweeping. Conversation were awkward as we struggled to think of appropriate questions to ask and then waited for Rebel, our interpreter, to translate. These obstacles made dialogue slow, somewhat unnatural and exhausting. After one particularly long pause, Maria asked me, “What do you do in America? Do you have work?” I hesitated while contemplating which of my many roles should be the answer. Mom of three? Conference Coordinator? Home remodeling business owner? Writer? This last hat seemed the least likely one to don at the moment. In order for it to be considered “work”, shouldn’t I be making at least a little bit of money? HA! Make money as a writer?!?! The thought almost made me laugh out loud.
“I’m a writer.” Did I actually say that???? A few minutes later, their next question came back at me: “What do you write about?” Almost without hesitation, the words poured forth, as if they would evaporate if not unleashed pronto: “I write about things that have to do with my faith Jesus Christ. I believe He alone is the reason for hope. He has rescued me from a dark prison of sadness and I write to encourage other people with the truth that He can set anyone free who will seek Him.”
What followed was beyond words as all awkwardness vanished and Sasotho words fired rapidly from the women. Rebel couldn’t keep up! We talked and smiled and nodded with animation for another thirty minutes, celebrating the faithfulness of a loving God who called us each for His pleasure and purpose.
I doubt Liana, Maria and Phuti will ever read a single article or story I’ve written. And yet, the very fact that I write became an unlikely platform for ministry. Sadly, I often judge my value as a writer according to publishing history, readership and—yes—dollars made. I easily limit the calling and underestimate God’s power by being narrow-minded and—dare I say—self-centered.
We are writers. This what we “do”, what we are called to whether we ever make a dime doing it or not. Our writing is for purposes we may not fully comprehend—today or ever. We may see the fruit of our efforts from time to time, but the “how” and “when” really isn’t up to us. Is it enough to just obey and write? And can we release all the audiences and results—seen and unseen—to the Author Himself?