Friday, September 11, 2020

When I Fail God in My Writing

by Joshua J. Masters @JoshuaJMasters

Despite my good intentions, I’m often faced with how to respond when I fail God in my writing. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? We might not say it aloud, but many of us in the writing community feel that way in the pit of our stomachs right now.

When the isolation of this pandemic started, I was like many authors who said, “I’m going to spend so much more time with God and get a ton of writing done.” But lethargy mixed with the overwhelming learning-curve of additional responsibilities led to less writing and fewer hours with God, not more.


We may have friends who try to encourage us by saying, “You haven’t failed God. Things have just been crazy out there!” 


Their intentions are good, and we appreciate the kind words, but we still feel that discouraged nausea and defeated spirit.


So here we are, sitting before an empty page. 

Our critique groups are slowly coming back together, children are returning to school in alternative ways, and many of our friends are going back to work. People are resuming their daily lives.


And were it not for the guilt and discouragement we’ve built up for “letting God down,” we’d be returning to our writing with new vigor. So how do we make up for lost time? How do we return to our writing with hope?


Scholars often call Hebrews 11 the “Heroes of Faith” chapter because the author illustrates what a life of faith looks like using revered men and women of the Old Testament as godly examples. In most cases, the author points to an individual, but in verses twenty-nine and thirty, he exalts the people of Israel.


It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned. 


It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.(Hebrews 11:29-30 NLT)


The author points to the faith of God’s people as a community when they’re leaving Egypt and when they first enter the Promised Land. 


But notice the space between those two verses. There’s a forty-year gap between God’s parting of the Red Sea in Egypt and the parting of the Jordan River before the fall of Jericho.


What happened in those forty years?


There’s nothing listed between these two verses because there were no significant acts of faith by the people of Israel in all those years—four decades of grumbling, disobedience, and idolatry.


For some of us, the last six months of quarantine have felt like forty years in the desert. And if we’re honest, many of us have responded the same way Israel did, with grumbling, disobedience, and idolatry. 

  • Grumbling over our circumstances, which tainted our offering to God even when we did get some writing done.
  • Disobedience when God asked us to spend time with Him, write, or reach out to care for other writers in our community.
  • Idolatry when we chose Netflix or potato chips (or both) over Him and what He’d called us to do.

And now, the enemy whispers with hushed accusations, “Look how you’ve failed God. He must be so disappointed in you. You’ll never get back on track now.”


I know what you’re thinking. 

This is the most depressing post about writing I’ve ever read


But we mustn’t pretend we’re above failure or discouragement. Let’s bring it into the light because that’s where we find the strength to return to God’s plan for us.


There’s an incredible, subtle truth in the middle of that Hebrews passage.


If you’re struggling with having failed God in your writing, I encourage you to grab a highlighter and open your Bible to the book of Hebrews. But I don’t want you to highlight Hebrews 11:29-30. I want you to highlight that small space between those two verses and write the word, “promise” in the margin. 


The great miracle of Hebrews 11:29-30 is that God allowed there to be a verse thirty at all. These people had abandoned God. They ignored the purpose He gave them and rejected the calling He’d put on their lives. The people of Israel had failed God in every way for forty years. God could have deserted them after verse twenty-nine.


But the promises of God are anchored in His integrity, not our own.


God’s promises are greater than our failures. 

He fulfills His purpose in our weaknesses.

And His calling is stronger than our wanderings.


It took an entire generation, but the moment God’s people were ready to return to their calling, God marched them across the Jordan River and fulfilled His promise as if they’d never fallen.


If God has called you to write, He’s still calling you to write. 


He’s waiting to part your Jordan River and knock down the walls you’re facing. The enemy will try to convince us we’re better off staying in the desert, wandering in shame. But the moment you reject that lie to re-embracing the promise God has given you, He renews your journey with Him as if you’d never strayed.


Maybe you have failed God, we all have. 
But He will never fail you.

God has prepared a verse 30 in your writing, so don’t stay between the verses. 


When I Fail God in My Writing - Hope from @JoshuaJMasters on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Joshua J. Masters 
is a pastor, author, and speaker. He’s been featured on CBN Television, HIS Radio, and the Light Radio Network. Josh is the author of American Psalms: Prayers for the Christian Patriot and is a contributing author for Feed Your Soul,  Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and One Christian Voice. Josh has also worked as an actor and crew member in the film industry (SAG/AFTRA) and continues to have a passion for film. He lives with his wife, Gina, and Franklin the Pup outside Greenville, South Carolina where he serves as a speaking and care pastor.

Josh would love to connect with you on his website, or engage with you on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Goodreads.


  1. Thank you, Cindy. I think this is a season when many of us need this encouragement.

  2. Appreciate this, Joshua. "God has prepared a verse 30 in your writing, so don’t stay between the verses."

  3. This is me....and you have encouraged me. I printed this out and will take it to my writers' group tomorrow.

    1. That's the greatest compliment you could give me, Tawn. Thank you so much. I pray you and your group are encouraged.

  4. Words cannot express how much I needed this today. Thank you. Thank you so much.

    1. You are very welcome, Amy. God wants you to be encouraged and filled with His hope. I'm so grateful I could be part of His message to you.

  5. Wow, what a powerful post. These words and the idea of underlining the space between those two verses spoke deeply to my heart. Thank you for the reminder that God is always with us and ready to walk with us into the next chapter as soon as we're willing to grasp His hand in faith.

  6. That is so well said, Jeanne. May the Lord continue to encourage you.

  7. Such a good encouragement. Yes, many will identify with what you have said, Joshua!

  8. A very good reminder of where our hope lies. Thank you. Donevy

    1. Amen. Our hope and our strength are in the Lord. Thank you for your comment.

  9. Thank you for this encouraging message. God has called me to write and I will keep writing. I pray before writing and ask Him to give me words to share.

    1. That is an excellent practice, Melissa. We should always seek God before, during, and after we write. I'm so grateful to hear you were encouraged by the post.

  10. I know so many people who are discouraged. This is a wonderful post to share with them.

  11. Thank you so much for this encouragement. It lifts me.