Tuesday, December 18, 2018

When a Writing Assignment Changed the World

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

As the end of the year draws to a close, perhaps you are thinking about your writing life. Specifically, what you didn’t write this year. That lead or request you never pursued. That idea you failed to give attention and care, so it just sort of fizzled…

Friend, this year is done. It’s time to move on. We are given a fresh start in 2019. The question is, what will we do with these blank pages of days?

Perhaps we can ask God to bring a message out of our mess! May I share one of my most favorite stories about how a writing assignment changed a life? And perhaps even the world…


George was a mess. 

One night in 1741, this bent old man shuffled listlessly down a dark London street. he was starting out on one of the aimless, despondent wanderings that had become a nightly ritual for him. His mind was a battleground between hope based on his past glories and despair based on the future.

George Frederich Handel couldn’t help but think of his roller coaster life…

For forty years he had written stately music for the aristocracy of England and Europe. Kings and queens had showered him with honors. Then court society turned against him, reducing him to poverty and illness. For awhile he experienced a recovery in health and fortune, until his patroness, Queen Caroline, died. As Handel sank deeper into debt, his heart sank deeper into depression.

Trudging into the warmth of his apartment that night, he discovered a package had been delivered– a commission to write a sacred oratorio. He would have preferred writing another opera. That is, until he began to read the words he was asked to set to music… “He was despised and rejected of men; ”“Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;” and “I know that my Redeemer Liveth.”

As these words came alive with meaning and purpose, so did Handel. He became consumed with writing and then jumping up and running to the harpsichord. At times he would stride up and down the room flailing the air with his arms and singing at the top of his lungs, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” the tears running down his cheeks.

People thought he was going mad. For twenty-four days he labored like a fiend with little rest or food. Then he fell on his bed exhausted, with his new score, “Messiah,” laying on his desk. At the very first performance of “Messiah,” the King and Queen attended and spontaneously stood in reverence when the “Hallelujah Chorus” began. That custom has continued to this day.

Handel never again succumbed to despair. Age sapped his vitality, he went blind, but his undaunted spirit remained to the last. “Until us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” became words that gave him new life.

And through his oratorio, George Frederich Handel lit a torch that still shines. His response to that writing assignment quite literally changed the world. 

This Child whom we celebrate during Christmas has great power to rescue those who are at the end of their rope - "messes" like you and me.  To offer a lifeline which restores purpose and passion to a discouraged soul. To anoint with power so that even the feeblest of humans can make a divine offering back to the Giver.

What will your “Messiah” be this coming year?
  • For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; 
  • And the government will be upon His shoulder. 
  • And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, 
  • Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)


Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing BEST Award for Devotional)Ordinary Graces  (2018 Selah Finalist), Live These Words, and Refresh! Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs for The Write Conversation, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog and (in)courage. Whether co-directing  "reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing,"  pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at http://www.EncouragingWords.net/ 


  1. Thanks for sharing information about Assignment Writing. I appreciate it for sharing as this blog is very helpful.

  2. What inspiration and encouragement LSM. You are truly a light and blessing in this world. Thank you for all you are and all you do ma'am. God's blessings...

  3. I so needed to hear this message. Thank you!

  4. What a great story. How typical of the enemy to convince us we are all washed up - just before God’s best arrives. Thank you for sharing.

  5. This is absolutely fantastic. THANK YOU! I would love a conversation with you, dear Lucinda.

  6. This a a wonderful encouragement! Thank you!

  7. Useful ideas shared about effective assignment writing.
    Thanks for sharing!