Friday, October 18, 2013

Walk What We Write by Nola Passmore


 
A piece I’d written on hospitality appeared on the Upper Room devotional site recently.  Is it a coincidence that we had a rush of guests and requests for visits round about the same time?  My parents stayed for a weekend, my cousin flew out from England for a week-long visit, a missionary friend asked if she could stay for a week in November, and a New Zealand friend asked if she could visit in January.  Now it’s great to see all these people, but we’d never had so many house guests in such a short period.  I couldn’t help thinking that God was prompting me to apply the hospitality lesson I’d advocated in that devotion.

One of the editors from the Upper Room also asked if I could do an additional blog post for the web site.  I wrote a piece about how God had challenged me to go part-time in my job so that I could spend more time writing.  As I sent off my faith-filled blog, I joked to my husband that I wouldn’t be surprised if God tested me on that too.  A few days later, God did indeed challenge me to take an even bigger leap of faith.  How could I fail to do what He’d asked, knowing that my article was about to appear?  So I took a deep breath and stepped out again.

The lesson in all of this is that we should just write bland, unchallenging material so that God won’t ask us to do anything about it.  No wait, that’s not it!  Though my husband did say I should check with him before sending anything else out. J

God wants us to practise what we preach, or maybe in our case, “walk what we write”.   I’d like to say that I have this principle nailed, but I don’t always get it right.  For the last few years, I’ve contributed pieces to an American devotional book and I often find myself reading something I’d written a year before and thinking, “Whoops … haven’t been doing that”. Fortunately, God is ever patient and merciful.  He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does want us to try to live the things we’re writing about. 

In James 1:22, we’re told “do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”  Maybe as writers, we could add, “do not merely write the word … do what it says”.  It’s not always easy, but it certainly makes for a more authentic witness.  Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is so intimately concerned with our writing endeavours, that He takes them seriously and uses them to mould us into the people He wants us to be?

I'd be interested to hear about times you’ve been challenged to apply something you’d already written.
 
 
Nola Passmore is a freelance writer who has had more than 90 short pieces published in various magazines, journals, and anthologies (including true stories, devotions, poetry and short fiction). She has a passion for writing about what God has done in her life and encouraging others to do the same. (Some call it "nagging", but she calls it "encouragement").

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for that Nola. I agree that God often challenges us through what we say and write. It's very confronting sometimes. I find in my writing about a character's walk with God that I'm challenged, either to add something that I'm a bit nervous about writing in case it offends someone, or to reflect on that issue in my own life and act on it. God is so clever, isn't He?

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    1. Thanks Carol. God certainly is clever the way He does that. It must be interesting dealing with different character qualities and plot lines when you know that God's going to walk you through it as well. I'm working on my first novel and the heroine will have to decide whether she'll stand up for a social justice issue even though she knows it could cost her life. I'm only 15 000 words in at the moment, so I'm nowhere near that part. But it's already got me wondering whether I'd be willing to do the same. An interesting process :)

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  2. This is a good challenge. I remember a few years ago, a friend who writes worship songs shared a similar sentiment with me. He felt a great sense of responsibility to live out the lyrics that he was writing.

    The main theme of the novel I am working on at the moment is trusting in God's purposes when things in life go wrong. This is a big challenge to me as I'm not always good at that. In a way I wrote this book to myself.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that Adam. It will be interesting to see how your novel pans out and the journey that God will take you on. It's interesting that you say you wrote the book for yourself. I find in my own writing that I sometimes tackle things that I'm also working through. It can be good therapy.

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  3. Oh dear, Nola. Aint that the truth! Practise what we preach, walk the talk, don't write it if your just spouting platitudes. A good reminder. I think I'll go and write something about taking time to enjoy good food. I think I can follow through on that one. :)

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    1. I like the way you think Meredith. And you've given me ideas for my next few pieces. As long as I stick to the joys of old movies, Pomeranians, and Prince Edward Island, I can't go wrong ;)

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  4. Challenging post, Nola. Great reminder to not limit what we write, might be the motivation we need to ensure we step out in faith.

    Thanks for being vulnerable sharing your own examples.

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    1. Thanks Ian. I'd like to get to the point where I don't limit anything I write. A bit scary at times, but it's one step at a time. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Wow Nola! Do you have to rub it in??? :) Just kidding. Great post - in total agreement with all that God's been teaching me the last month or more. He often gets me to write something (the easy part) ... but then gets me to live it - the difficult part! :) Sounds like you have been learning the same lessons. Thanks for reiterating truths that God means I hear from Him. Let's walk the talk together! :)

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    1. Hi Anusha - yes, I remember you talking about that a bit at the conference. It's not always easy, but it provides lots of material for blogs! Look forward to sharing more of your journey with you. :)

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  6. Hi Nola, That's a great warning for all of us, especially when the written word is a more permanent record than the spoken word, and people can more easily quote what we said :)

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    2. Thanks for that Paula. The written word is probably even more permanent now that we have the internet - we never know where it will end up. Okay, I'm officially scared now. Think I'll take Meredith's advice and write about food. But it's also great to know that when we get it right, it can really encourage others and that our words can last long after we've gone. Thanks for your comments.

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  7. Hi Nola
    Love it - I'm going to write it up on my wall - "The lesson in all of this is that we should just write bland, unchallenging material so that God won’t ask us to do anything about it." Just kidding ;) Thanks for the challenge to live out what we write about while realizing that we all fail - and that's okay because God is patient, kind and forgiving. But it is a big responsibility to be genuine and true. Thanks again.

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    1. Hi Jenny - Glad to see that you're taking the most important sentence to heart (LOL). It is a big responsibility to be a Christian writer, but also a great privilege. And yes, we're so fortunate that God is patient, kind and forgiving. Thanks for your comments :)

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  8. I find I tend to give my characters the same issues I'm struggling or have struggled with. And yes, as I reread things they've said it reminds me to also walk the talk.

    Thanks for the reminder Nola.

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    1. Thanks Rita. Sounds like a few of us do that. It's a great way of working through things isn't it? Thanks for your comments.

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  9. Yes, Nola ... so true!
    I have been thinking about this very same thing since I rushed home yesterday to prepare for evacuation mode if need be. I wasn't quite prepared for this ... had been contemplating making a fire plan and getting things together, but putting if off as there had been no fires in sight - until yesterday. I was over an hour's drive away from home when I saw the billowing smoke towering over the landscape in our direction. Out came the fire app, and yes, the fire was at the village next to us. My friends prayed while I worried, mentally rushing about and thinking whether I'd have enough time to get to the most important things like papers and photos etc etc etc... As it turned out, the wind changed and blew the fire away from us. But not before I raced around and got things together. And having peace while praying wasn't part of my experience ... a definite 'Whoops' for me! Today I am reflecting...

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    1. Hi Margaret - We were just watching all of that on TV. Glad your house is okay and hope the fires stay away from your area. It's often in those crunch times that God shows us the things he wants us to learn. Had another one of those myself earlier this week regarding an issue I thought I had already worked through. God put his finger on it again ... ouch. But it's great to know he has our best interests at heart and is helping us in our journey. Not always an easy lesson to learn though. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Thanks, Nola. Love your mixture of honesty and humour. Will be interested to see that novel develop--very exciting! Re my own writing, it's really out of such challenges that I write my weekly blogs, thus reinforcing the lessons God is teaching me at the same time as sharing them with others.

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    1. Thanks for that Jo. It's a great two-fold benefit isn't it, when we can help others with something God is also teaching us. I really appreciate the honesty in your writing, as do so many others. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Had to smile. Know exactly what you mean Nola. The number of times I have written something and then God has expected me to put it into practice. But that's the way we learn best. Not always easy though.

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  12. Thanks Dale. It certainly is a good way to learn a lesson. Though I might hold off on writing anything else on hospitality until our current list of guests has run through :) Blessings.

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  13. Hi Nola,

    I am not as brave as you; I blog/write about lessons previously learned :-D I am always challenged though, and like you, I have read over past articles only to be somewhat convicted of my ability to follow through on my lesson of faith.

    May God bless you and guide your steps accordingly as you keep on following him and his plans.

    Helen

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  14. Thanks Helen. I don't know that it's being brave. It often catches me by surprise. But I think you are very brave in your writing. Most of the blogs of yours I've read have been extremely honest and I've appreciated the way you've shared your struggles. I've been helped by them and I'm sure many others have been as well. God bless.

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