Friday, September 28, 2018

I Can Only Imagine How God Wants to Use Your Writing


by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

I hope by now you’ve watched the movie I Can Only Imagine, which tells the story of Bart Millard, MercyMe’s lead singer’s relationship with his father. A hauntingly beautiful tale about pain and forgiveness, the film’s central message displays God’s ability to redeem the most broken situation and soften the hardest hearts. 

Screenwriters used the history of the now wildly-successful Christian band as a backdrop for the primary theme. Since its inception, MercyMe has produced six gold albums and 13 consecutive top 5 singles on the Billboard Christian Songs chart, with seven of them reaching No. 1. The band has won 8 Dove Awards and many Grammy Award nominations.  

But MercyMe hasn’t always been successful. And while success finally did come, it didn’t come overnight. Or easily.

These truths combine to produce the secondary ribbon woven through the story—perseverance. 

When Bart Millard felt God call him to use his musical gifts and talents for the Lord, he accepted. He and his band played for whoever would take them – churches, youth groups, camps, retreats. They zig zagged across the country in an old bus, handled their own promotion, and even badgered an agent so much he finally agreed to represent them.

Time after time they heard words that could have crushed their dreams.

“You’re not ready.” 

“You’re copying someone else. Find your own voice.”

“Uncover the message that captures your heart.”

Although they came close to quitting, they persevered. 

God had called them to play music for his glory, and they remained true to that call. Even if it meant playing for free. Or in small venues. Or as backups to big bands. Night after night. City after city. Year after year.

Eight years passed before they released their first major debut album. And although the single “I Can Only Imagine,” earned a Dove award in 2002, the song took three years to gain mainstream success. MercyMe persevered for over a decade before they began to reap the fruit of their labor.

I can’t help but draw a parallel between the music world and the writing world. 

Many (I dare say most) writers write for years in relative obscurity. A newspaper column here. A short story there. A local website prints a profile piece, or a print magazine accepts a submission. But the sidewalk that leads to every open door is littered with rejection letters. And once and a while an editor will add a comment to the form letter:

“You’re not ready.” 

“You’re copying someone else. Find your own voice.”

“Uncover the message that captures your heart.”

So we persevere. We hone our craft, spend hard-earned money on classes and writers conferences, and invest hundreds of hours in writing, editing, and networking.

We refuse to quit because we feel God’s call on our writing. To give up would be to falter. To fail. To die.

“If you can do anything else and be happy, do it,” writing gurus say.

But we can’t.

And so we press on. By faith. 

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised,” Hebrews 10:26 reminds us.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” James 1:12 calls from the stands, cheering us on.

One year ago last month my dear friend Lynn and her husband, Rick, wept brokenheartedly over the breakup of one of their children’s marriages. Then they heard MercyMe’s song, “Even If.” Its message of courage and faith in the midst of heartbreaking circumstances touched the deepest part of their souls. It became their battle cry and their commitment to trust God even if He didn’t mend their adult child’s marriage. 

Two days after their declaration, Rick died in a tragic accident. The commitment he and Lynn had made together to trust God, “even if,” took on an even deeper meaning as Lynn continued on without him. MercyMe’s song became her comfort in the night and her declaration of the day. Even now, its refrain continues to carry her through every grief-tinged moment and reminds her of the promise she made to God.

I’m so glad Bart Millard and MercyMe persevered. My friend Lynn needed their song.

But this isn’t about Bart Millard and Lynn. It’s about you and me. 

Like Lynn, there’s someone out there who needs our words of comfort, challenge, or insight. We don’t know who they are yet, but God does.

And the time will come when, because we didn’t quit, God will use our words in their life.

We may never meet them this side of heaven. Bart Millard has no idea how God has used his song in Lynn’s life. But rest assured, one day the veil will be lifted and we will know. 

And it will be worth it all.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

Now it’s your turn. What keeps you going when you’re tempted to quit? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

TWEETABLES
I can only image how God wants to use your writing - encouragement from @LoriHatcher2 on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and  Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

25 comments:

  1. Thank you Lori for this encouraging and much needed message. Using the movie as a parallel to writing gives a clear visual. It brought it all home for me at a time where my writing seems to be stagnant. Thanks for the encouragement to keep on keeping on. Blessings to you.

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    1. Sheryl, I often think of the verse that says we “see through a glass darkly.” One day, though, we won’t be hindered by our cataract vision and we’ll understand how God has used every step of our writing journey for good. Until then, we keep walking by faith. God’s blessings on your writing.

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  2. Thank you, Lori for your timely words. Encouraging and heartfelt I needed to be reminded of Gods plan, not mine! Blessings.

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    1. Amen, Marjorie. So glad my y’all to myself encouraged you as well :). Keep writing!

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  3. Can only add an "Amen" to this heartfelt lesson Ms. Lori. I suspect, like you ma'am, we are only concerned with our writing being pleasing to three persons. Am glad many of us here know the three persons I reference. God's blessings my friend.

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    1. You’re right, Jim, but how quickly we lose sight of who our true Audience is ...
      Thanks for chiming in today.

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  4. Thank you for sharing these encouraging words, Lori. Awesome post. God bless you and all of us writers as we use words for His glory!

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    1. Amen, Darlene. May He be glorified through our obedience today.

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  5. This is a great post, Lori. You may never know how God plans to use your writing, free or paid. And if it's just for His pleasure, isn't that enough?
    Him sitting on his thrown reading your post, children's story, or draft you hid the the drawer. His lips moving and a slight smile.
    What a picture.

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  6. I love that picture, Tim. Thanks for planting the image in our minds today :)

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  7. Beautiful post—thank you. What keeps me writing is knowing I’m doing it for an audience of One who will use it as he wills. Mine is simply to be faithful to use what I’ve been entrusted with.

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    1. Linda, you’re exactly right. And that’s powerful motivation. Write on!

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  8. What a beautiful, encouraging and inspiring post! Thank you, Lori, for sharing these stories, sharing your heart, and pointing us towards a fresh perspective on God's timing. Bless you. :)

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    1. And thank you for reading (and writing). I’m thankful we can trust God for the results AND the timing.

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  9. What an inspiring post. I can relate to the trials mentioned. My daughter just announced she and her husband are divorcing and I liken the pain to my husbands passing. But, my writing and journaling my hurt to God, get me through the difficult times. I started an article a few months back about the collateral damage divorce inflicts. I am moved now to complete that piece. Thanks for your honest writing. --Judy

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    1. Judy, your story is an example about how God can bring brautybfrom ashes and redeem even the saddest/hardest trial when we surrender it to him. Prayers for you and your family. May God glorify himself through you.

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  10. Wow! This is beautiful. I absolutely love the movie and the song, and it's so true -- there are so many parallels with the music world and the writing life. Thank you for this reminder!

    Tessa

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    1. Thanks, Tessa. While the primary message came through loudly and clearly, God spoke so beautifully to encourage me about persevering in my writing life as I watched. It truly was God’s message for me, and I’m privileged to be able to share it with others in the hopes they, too, will persevere for God’s glory. Blessings to you!

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  11. That movie touched my heart, and so did this post. I'm struggling with the decision on how to proceed with my writing. The nagging feeling of not seeing the fruits of my labor before I leave this earth dangles in the back of my mind. I refuse to let it sway me, but I still catch myself feeling discouraged. Your post opened my eyes and reminded me God's timing is perfect and my top priority should be my faith in Him. Lori, thank you so much for writing this.

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    1. Oh, Linda, I so get that. We hear the clock ticking and wonder if we’ll see the fruit of our labor. But he who called us is faithful. He will accomplish his purpose for us AND our writing. We can trust him. Blessings to you!

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  12. I have wondered more than once why I don't quit, but I don't. Other things call that need done, housework, garden, yard work. When I asked God to show me what I needed to be doing I found that one by one the things that 'called me" garden then yard, and some of the many other things people had wanted me to do...I could no longer do because of health issues. I can still write and do basic housework. The housework was never a first choice anyway, LOL. So there I have it. Never ask a question if you're not ready for the answer I guess.

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    1. I agree, Donevy, It is a great comfort to see a clear answer when we seek God’s will. Even when it involves housework ;) blessings to you, Friend!

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  13. Thank you for your encouraging post.

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    1. You’re most welcome, Jann. God’s blessings!

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