Dave Meigs

David Meigs is a novelist with a background in youth outreach, specializing in ministry to at-risk youth and their families. Though his writing is enjoyed by all ages, his novels provide a unique, life-changing quality, critical for the youth of today. David and his family lives in Seabeck, Washington.

God Told Me So

Several years ago, a colleague asked me to take a look at a collection of writings he had compiled over the years. He said he intended to put them into a book someday. I cringed. This man was not a writer and may not appreciate an honest critique of his work. I smiled and agreed to meet with him again soon to discuss his project.

Later, when I opened his notepad, it took only a glance to see that I was in for trouble. There was little, if any, punctuation, and it appeared to have been written in some kind of metered format, like poetry or proverbs. After reading a couple of pages, I was in shock. It was mostly written in first person, as if spoken by God Himself; seemingly directed to my colleague, but often switching on the fly to all believers.

When we next met, and as gently as possible, I told him that in my humble judgment most Christians might have a problem with anything written as if penned by God Himself. Next, I recommended a book on grammar and suggested how he could rewrite his project into a more common devotional format. Feeling a little sorry for what must have felt like a bomb going off in the man’s heart, I offered what little encouragement I could.

Gracious as always, he kept quiet until I had finished. If he was upset by anything I said, he didn’t show it. He asked if he could take a brief moment of prayer before responding. He bowed his head for what could not have been longer than ten seconds. I was not prepared for what happened next. He lifted his eyes and announced that he took my concerns before the Lord, but God had commanded that it was to be printed as written. I was dumfounded. If he really believed that his writings were the very dictation of God, then why bring them to me for my input in the first place?

I wish I’d had the wisdom to keep my mouth shut. But that has never been one of my strong points. I opened his collection to one particular line that was especially confusing and asked him what it said. Without punctuation it was impossible to divine if it was a question, a statement, or, for that matter, what it was even trying to say.

He seemed genuinely surprised. It may have made perfect sense to him when he had first written it, but now not even he could figure its meaning. He acknowledged that it was flawed, and for a moment, I had hope for my minister friend. But then he bowed his head in prayer, but for scarcely more than a second, and confirmed that it was to remain as written. This time I kept my mouth shut. Evidently, at least a few of the mysteries of God would have to remain so for a while longer.

I felt sorry for him. Was it his ego that kept him from accepting the flaws in what he had written? Perhaps. Had my criticism caused some kind of crisis of faith? I sincerely hope not. I only know that in all good conscience, I had done what I felt was right. I hope that with time, my words might find their way into his mind and heart.

Does God speak to His people? Absolutely. In John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (NKJV). I would be lost (literally) without God’s comfort, encouragement, and, yes, even His life-giving rebukes. After all, experiencing a living relationship with God is what makes Christianity different from every other religion.

God speaks to writers too. Between the ACFW,, and the various writer groups I have participated in over the years, I have had the joy of meeting many wonderful folk. I never tire of hearing the stories of how they got started writing and especially the dynamics of how God interacts with their creative processes. Many said that, like me, they felt that God has called them to write. Others said their calling was limited to a special project of one kind or another. I have many friends who write outside the Christian market but still take their faith seriously and seek God’s input as they write.

A few days ago, I came across a message on by one of our newer members that made me smile. She had just finished the first draft of her first novel and was eagerly seeking advice as to agents that she might choose from. I could almost feel the excited anticipation of untold fame and riches that would surely soon be hers.

I chuckled as I read the gentle but cautious advice by some of our more seasoned members. While showing excitement at her accomplishment, they encouraged her to take a few days to celebrate, and then get to work perfecting her project. They advised her to submit her work to our critique workshops. Good advice all.

As I read this new member’s thread, it brought back memories of my own excitement after finishing the first draft of my first novel. I remember seeking the input of a few of my best friends and family members, all of whom offered the highest of praise. Then, while still feeling the afterglow of their tributes, I took my “baby” to a writer friend who had several published novels under her belt. She congratulated me on finishing my novel, promised to give it a read, and then offer any helpful advice she might be able to give me.

When the fateful meeting did at last came to pass, I remember sitting on the edge of my seat awaiting her feedback—my heart in my throat. She started by repeating her former congratulations for actually finishing a novel. But nothing could have prepared me for what she said next. “I think this would make for a nice outline for a complete rewrite.” Then she went on to share a few important rules such as “show, don’t tell” and recommended a few books on writing. Trying not to show my devastation, I smiled and thanked her. My mind spun as I watched her walk away.

It was bitter medicine, but I sucked it up and thanked God for sending me someone with the wisdom to tell me what I needed to hear, painful though it was. Then I did just as she suggested—I rewrote the entire novel using the old one as an outline. As she suggested, I added scenes to better show the story rather than tell. When I finally finished a month or so later, I had something I could be proud of. It was a long way from being finished, but now I had the keys needed to get it there.

Oh the joys of being me. I hope that my own story might help lessen the sting of your first critique, or at least make you chuckle as you go about your day. Until next month, God bless you. Keep writing for Jesus.