Friday, February 15, 2013

The Plot Thickens

The Plot Thickens

If only we could plan our lives as easily as constructing a plot graph for a story. I had a discussion with a friend about prayer the other day and she said prayer is a process, not just a one off event. Pray=result. Done! Instead, she suggested this equation:


She said we begin with a promise. God has given us many promises in our lives and we believe them. A big problem comes along and we call out to God. We wait. More problems come along. It looks worse than it did before, often for months or years. We give up and lose faith at a moment of intense crisis. We lose heart and try to figure things out, forget God and try to force a resolution.

If we were able to write the plot for our own life story, we would begin with the exposition, describing the setting and background to our character. Then, we would give ourselves a few challenges, conflicts and problems to overcome and create a satisfying resolution. A very neat, tidy process.

I’m sure we would be easier on ourselves than our fictional characters. In fiction, we can create the most amazing scenarios. However, in real life, our problems and conflicts defy imagination and can take us to the edge of despair and sanity. Sometimes, we are not even the author of the problems that come our way.

Creating a plot and completing a book are processes. We plot, we sketch out details, begin to write and develop the ideas. We reach the end of the first draft with a sigh of satisfaction, only to enter the next phase-editing, rewriting and reworking, which takes longer than writing the first draft. The manuscript then goes through many more conflicts before reaching the climax when we scream, ‘I can’t do this anymore!’

This is where we often give up, as writers and in life generally. 

‘It’s too hard.’ 
‘It’s taking too long.’ 
‘I can’t even remember why I thought this was a good idea.’ 
‘God gave me the inspiration to write but the cost is too great.’

If we quit right there and put the manuscript away in a box, the process will not be complete. The resolution will not be satisfying.

Isn’t this how we deal with some things in life? Along come problems, conflicts and crises and we wonder what is going on. If we quit or avoid the process, we will not feel satisfied. In the short term we may feel relief from the pain, however, bitterness, disappointment and hurt will be there under the surface.

In writing and life, we need to persevere in the process. This harks back to the old Creation, Fall, Redemption story in the Bible. God is the original author and he created a plot graph with a process. Our part is to trust in the process and to do the work required. 

Provision or resolution comes when the plot is played out. Psalm 31:24 says, Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.

Ah, the struggles of life and writing. It was never promised life would be easy, but the sweetest stories are those where the characters have lived through hardship and suffering and see the provision come.

Elaine Fraser


  1. Even after writing and self-publishing my novel, I still almost want to hide it and I think to myself I am not any good. Yet I do believe God gave me this talent, so I trust in his guidance and leading.

    1. We all feel like that. We just have to let it go and get on with the next one!

      Even rereading my blog made me see mistakes and feel inadequate.

  2. Oh Elaine. Thank you for that excellent post. It really resonated with me and I identified with all you shared. How right you are. And how blessed we are to have Prayer as one of God's amazing gifts to us. Loved your title too.

    Bless you for the way you shine His light through your writing and through your life.

    1. Thank you Anusha. Your writing blessed me too! May God give you space to write whilst you recover. X

  3. Hi Elaine
    I keep nodding my head as I was reading this. So often we do expect God to instantly fix things and then get discouraged when this doesn't happen. About 5 years ago when I was experiencing a how swag of health issues, disappointments, bereavements and difficult situations (most not of my own making), the more I prayed the more it seemed that God would pile up on me. I would pray for healing for one thing and end up with an additional health problem to contend with. At the same time, as I was facing the death of a long term vision which I had put years of effort into, my partner was beginning to soar as doors sailed open for his dream. I began to feel that God had given up on me. I began to feel bitter and abandoned (something really unusual for me as a natural optimist).
    It took 2-3 years of God whispering hope and love into my life and then one very vivid encounter before I could just accept (once again) his great love despite the circumstances that surrounded me. He is still at work in my life - as you say, it's a process in which the Holy Spirit is at work not just pat solutions handed ready made for heaven.
    And as you say, it's so easy to get discouraged on the writing journey. I'm trying these days to give my dreams to God and allow him to work them out in his perfect timing (which I can tell you is not always the one I would have plotted!)
    Thanks for your post. I enjoyed reading it.
    Jenny (Jeanette) O'Hagan

    1. Dear Jenny, your story is a testimony. You have been through the mill . You have kept listening to God and persevered.

      One of my personal issues took 20 years to resolve. After about 10 years I finally let it go. The next ten years were better. Since then things have been amazing.

      It's hard to persevere and wait for the provision.

      Patience is more than a virtue!

      Bless you for sharing. X

  4. Hi Elaine,
    Excellent post. It's something we'd do well to remember at all times.

  5. Thank you Paula. You are so encouraging.

  6. Hi Elaine - Great blog. God's been speaking to me about perseverence lately. I had a big setback a couple of years ago that saw me doing a lot of questioning. Not the plot twist I would have written, but I can see now that God is bringing good things out of it. Not always easy though. Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Lovely viewpoint and encouraging teaching on a very human problem. Thank you, Elaine.

  8. I agree, prayer is indeed a process and act of faith. We all have those struggles that prompt a desperate "Pretty please?" approach to prayer at times. I may have had one of those today.