Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Dipping the Quill Deeper: The Writer & The Sword


by Eva Marie Everson @EvaMarieEverson

One of my favorite biblical characters is a man named Nehemiah. Nehemiah served the Persian king Artaxerxes I of Persia, a man who reigned over his kingdom from 465-424 BC. Nehemiah’s occupation was that of “cup bearer,” a job that required the utmost trust of the king. When Nehemiah’s brother from Jerusalem came to visit him in Susa, Nehemiah quickly asked about the Jewish remnant who had survived the exile and about the condition of their beloved “home,” Jerusalem. 

“Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble in disgrace,” they told him. 

Worse, the wall of Jerusalem was in shambles. The gates leading into the city had been burned with fire. 

The news rocked Nehemiah … and he cried. In fact, he wept and fasted and agonized to the point that when it was his time to go to the king, Artaxerxes noticed that Nehemiah was not the same man as usual. After inquiring as to the problem, the king gave Nehemiah permission to return to Jerusalem but asked, “How long will you be gone?”

Nehemiah set a time, although the Bible doesn’t give what that time was, but does say that the king was pleased with it. As a writer, I think of it much like a “due date” on a contract. 

Accessing the Situation & Getting to Work
Once Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he quietly accessed the situation then rounded up men to help rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. Naturally, as soon as they got started, the naysayers put in their two cents. (Ever have that happen to you, writer? Have you ever started the “good work” God has commissioned you to perform only to have those around you pooh-pooh it?) 

Nehemiah declared, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it” (Nehemiah 2:20).

The critics left the men to do their work.

But, oh, if the story ended there …

As soon as these same men heard that the builders were accomplishing their task, they returned, this time full of ridicule. But while they plotted to cause trouble, Nehemiah continued to pray, asking God for His protection. Soon enough, even the laborers were moaning and complaining. 

But things really turned nasty when the death threats started (Nehemiah 4:11).

A Brick in One Hand, A Sword in the Other
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked (Nehemiah 4: 16 – 18, emphasis mine).

In case you haven’t noticed, if you are writing in the Lord’s service—whether you write for children or adults, whether you write fiction or nonfiction, whether you write solely under a religious umbrella or your work shares the message through what I call “backdoor” methods—you are sitting in the sites of one who wants to stop you. He will do it through the words of your family members or those you get through the 9 to 5 daily grind with or your neighbors or simply good friends. He has even been known to slip into our own minds to whisper negative lines, hoping to stop us. He doesn’t have a huge back of tricks, but he can be extremely creative when it comes to how to use them. 

So, what are we to do?

Exactly what Nehemiah’s laborers did: [they] carried materials [they] did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.

And what is our weapon? Where is our sword?

According to the Apostle Paul, we are to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6: 17, emphasis mine). 

When you write, and when you begin to feel the attacks that only want to slow you down or stop you entirely, what do you do? Do you pray? In that prayer, do you simply ask God to help you, or do you take up that sword and quote it back to the enemy? To my way of thinking, this is taking that sword, jabbing it toward the “naysayer” and then declaring, “Take that!”

The Bible is full of God’s promises for our success, no matter what we are trying to accomplish. All you have to do is pull them from their sheath and use them. And you can start with this one:

I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success” (Nehemiah 2:20).

TWEETABLE

Eva Marie Everson is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of its two conferences. She is the multiple award-winning author of nearly 40 works and has received awards as a speaker and Bible teacher. Eva Marie is often seen at writers conferences across the States. She served as a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild for several years, and taught as a guest professor at Taylor University in 2011. She and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they enjoy their grandchildren. They are owned by one small dog and a princess cat. 

12 comments:

  1. Indeed Ms Eva Marie. The rhema of God's word is like fiery arrows that pierce the darkness of our souls. Well said ma'am.

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  2. So well said Eva Marie. Just when we think our writing is good or great someone standing over our shoulders bursts our balloon! But God is always there for us to help us pick up the pieces. Thanks for your writing this morning. It is very encouraging for me.

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  3. Outstanding post - that touches the heart of all Christian writers. Thank you!

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  4. Thank you Eva Marie! I've been studying in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, and especially loved Nehemiah's tenacity to see his people and their city wall and gates restored. As I studied though, I never realized how it connected directly to me as a writer on mission for God. Thank you for making that connection and helping me to 'see.' I claim Nehemiah 2:20!

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    1. Kim, glad to see that you are keeping your reading "light." :)

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  5. ahhh, the unknown is Kim Reese Aulich... ;)

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  6. Great words. They point us to the Word. Something we as writers should focus on, both when we write and when we feel discouraged.

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  7. Nehemiah is one of my favorite Biblical characters. In fact, I'm writing a book about his leadership skills. Thanks for this post!

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