By Ashley Larkin
Doubt and insecurity can cling heavily to those who experience the stirring to create. Even for those who confidently call themselves writers, the process of bringing forth words can at times breed feelings of discouragement and loneliness.
Writers of faith, like other writers, may ask, “Who cares about what I have to say? Is anyone listening? Do I have something unique to share with the world? Is it worth making myself vulnerable to do it? What if I put myself out there and fail?”
In large part, the Faith and Culture Writers Conference exists to speak to those very places of unbelief and struggle. To proclaim that God is doing a good thing – a new thing – in and through you, as you partner with him in bringing forth words.
This year’s conference theme verse proclaims this very truth: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
The conference planning team desires that each one who attends leaves feeling not only equipped with useable skills, but also with a new sense of confidence and hope in this God-given calling to write. In short, we desire for you to be encouraged.
In Acts 27, we see a powerful picture of encouragement, as the apostle Paul speaks confidently about what he knows to be true: God controls the situation and will bring a good end.
Though Paul has advised against this sea voyage, soon he finds himself on a ship with 275 other people, thrown about by a violent storm. Days pass, and eventually those on board lose all hope of being saved and begin to throw their provisions overboard.
In the midst of this impossible-seeming situation, an angel of God visits Paul and assures him that none on the ship will be lost. Paul returns to the men and tells them that God’s hand is upon the ship and none of them will die. They do not believe him at first, but Paul continues to encourage them (in verses 33 and 34) and tells them to eat. Paul takes the lead, breaking bread, giving thanks to God and eating.
His example inspires those aboard. Verse 36 says the once hopeless men are encouraged and take in enough food to fill themselves. In fact, after eating, they believe they will make it to shore and proceed to lighten the ship further (by tossing wheat overboard) to ensure this will be the case.
The men feel encouraged when Paul proclaims to them the good God has spoken to him. It is a good even Paul does not yet “see,” but he chooses to believe and move forth in faith with hope. When the men are encouraged, they take in what they need for their sustenance. Then, they willingly lighten the boat’s load, getting rid of what is no longer needed, not from a place of defeat, but of hope.
For you who walk with Christ and embrace this calling to partner with the Word made flesh in sharing words, you, too, can believe in what God says, though you do not yet see the outcome. You can freely take in that which you need for your encouragement, including the emboldening, support and care of others on the journey. Once encouraged, you can walk in new lightness, gradually casting aside what is no longer needed.
We do not know all the pieces of the story, but like Paul, we can choose to agree with and believe in the good end that God knows.
Ashley Larkin writes several times a week about the good of living fully awake at her blog Draw Near.