you ever write a word in print, it’s important not to despise
obscurity. I’ve written in journals for twenty-six years, recording
silly things like which boy I liked in seventh grade or my misgivings
about moving. When I became a Christian at fifteen, my journal became a
place where I could pray, lament, study, and ponder spiritual
questions. Because I’ve always been in the habit of writing, it has not
been hard to establish a daily writing routine.
Henri Nouwen, in his book Reflections
on Theological Education, emphasizes how writing helps us
discover what’s within us: “Writing is a process in which we discover
what lives in us. The writing itself reveals what is alive. The deepest
satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within
us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is
to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know.”
Like the psalmist, I’ve written
for an Audience of One—for the ears of my King: “My heart overflows [is
astir] with a good theme; I address my verses to the king; My tongue is
the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45:1 NASB). Having the experience of
laboring over words in obscurity before the tender gaze of Jesus has
helped me find my voice—that elusive commodity for which writers pine.
So, write when no one sees. Write things no one will read. Write
because you have to. Write for the sheer joy of it, and leave your
career in God’s capable hands.
you get discouraged, remember Joseph. He became a powerful man—a savior
of his people—but not before he endured horrendous trials. He labored
faithfully in Potiphar’s house and then in utter obscurity in prison.
Still, God saw him. Through the trials, God built character and empathy
and courage into Joseph. In our celebrity-driven society, we tend to
view Joseph in the latter chapters of Genesis, skipping over the pain.
We want to be Joseph, but we don’t want to walk the rocky path he
journeyed on. Don’t despise your current circumstance. Don’t disdain
your humble beginnings. These are places God can build upon, brick by
to be faithful in the
smallest writing tasks. Do editing for free. Send meaningful prose to a
struggling friend. Write a poem to your spouse just for the sake of
blessing him or her. Jesus said, “He who is faithful in a very little
thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very
little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10 NASB)
No matter where you find
yourself today—a successful novelist, a freelancer who can afford paid
housecleaning, or an obscure journal writer—thank God for the place in
which He has planted you. The Message renders
Zechariah 4:10a this way, “Does anyone dare despise this day of small
beginnings?” Revel in your obscurity. Just as Moses tended flocks forty
years, Jesus labored relatively unseen for thirty-three years, and Paul
spent fourteen years (Galatians 2:1) in self-imposed exile, we—if we
are to attempt great things for God—must not despise humble beginnings.