Bam. The man’s words hit me between the eyes. He had not pointed me out in the congregation, he had not mentioned me by name, but I knew the words, which he said God had given him, were meant for me.
I was in the middle of writing my first novel, a fantasy that totally enthralled me when I worked on it and during almost every other waking moment. Sometimes it even invaded my dreams. I knew I was obsessed with it and I knew that obsession was not a good thing. I was struggling with some issues in my life and trying to avoid dealing with them. The fiction writing became an escape, the pill I used to take the pain away, my refuge and my rock.
My fiction writing had taken the place of God in my life. It had become an idol.
When I returned home after that conference I knew I had to do something about it so I prayed. I prayed hard. God answered but I did not like what He told me to do - stop. So I didn’t do it. I tried to rationalize it – after all, I prayed before I worked, most of the time, and I had dedicated all my writing to God, hadn’t I? But God’s answer was still the same - stop. I struggled with it for some time, but finally, reluctantly, I obeyed. I stopped writing fiction. I continued to write the devotional column for a local newspaper and other non-fiction work, but I wrote no fiction.
He was merciful and took away the ideas, the scenes and characters that normally flooded my head, but it was hard. It felt like wandering in a desert and I had no idea how long it would last. That time in the desert was a time of growth and trust and learning to be obedient.
Then, one day, almost two years later, after speaking with a woman from a crisis pregnancy centre, an idea came to mind and a character began to take shape in my head. I was excited but resisted the urge to write it down. Instead, I prayed. I prayed hard. And God released me to write. He gave me a specific time and place in which to do it and as I wrote he helped me to realize it is not writing fiction that will heal me or keep me sane. Only Jesus can do that deep work. When I told my husband that I was writing fiction again, he said, “Now it will come from a place of strength instead of weakness.” Yes, strength that came from listening, waiting, praying, strength that flowed from the mercy and grace of God.
That novel, One Smooth Stone, won me The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award when it was published.
I’ve never forgotten the lessons God taught me during that time. What about you? Is writing your refuge and your rock? Perhaps you need a time in the desert.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has three devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia's second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards.