Tuesday, March 16, 2021

When You Wonder If Your Writing Even Matters…

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

Katherine was a human computer. 

A black woman in the mid-century America NASA space program. Among other responsibilities, she calculated the trajectories for both the Mercury and Apollo missions. 

But no one knew about her work. 

Until the book and movie “Hidden Figures” revealed the true story of the “West Computers” – women who were at the heart of NASA’s advancements. Yes, even Katherine G. Johnson.

“They worked through equations that described every function of the plane, running the numbers often with no sense of the greater mission of the project. They contributed to the ever-changing design of a menagerie of wartime flying machines, making them faster, safer, and more aerodynamic. Unlike the male engineers, few of these women were acknowledged in academic publications or for their work on various projects.”

We all want our work to matter. Katherine Johnson was one of those courageous women who lived a full and inspiring life, leaving us in this last hard year.

Moses prayed, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the workof our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”(Psalm 90.17) 

I pray a similar prayer. “Make the small and large things You have called me to do help bring light and hope to the world.”

In the Old Testament Hebrew, the word for confirm or establish means “firmly fixed, stable, secure.” We all want to believe that all we have invested in during this life – the words we have written -- will be appreciated and make a difference. 

But there are no guarantees.

How do we ever know the results of “the work of our hands?” For author Philip Yancey, writing is a very isolated occupation. “We write in desperate hope that the sometimes-tedious tasks of researching, composing, and polishing words will eventually become a virtual chain that links us to others.” 

Still, he is amazed at some responses to his books. “A woman in Lebanon told me how much my book “Disappointment with God” meant to her. She read it a few pages a night in the midst of the civil war there, in a bomb shelter by the light of a kerosene lamp. Another woman in Beirut wrote that my book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” helped her have a better attitude toward the P.L.O. guerrillas who had commandeered her apartment. I read such letters and think to myself, I really had in mind a chronic illness not a civil war, and neighbors who play loud music, not guerrillas who move in uninvited. Again and again God has surprised me by using words written with mixed motives by my impure self to bear fruit in ways I never could have imagined.” 

When I am tempted to wonder if my writing, speaking and teaching will ever make a difference, invariably I will get a note from someone sharing the impact of my words. They read my book or heard my presentation. It was used in their life. This spurs me on tremendously!

Did you feel like quitting today? Because you have absolutely no idea if your words will ever reach and touch anyone?

Friend, the same God who calls you is the God who will use you. In His way and in His time. Will you trust Him and keep writing and speaking?

Author Robert Benson points out, “The real reason we cannot quit is because of the friends, known and unknown to us, who have somehow come to expect that the bits and pieces of our personal lives… do indeed reveal the places where the One Who made us has made an appearance will shed light on the ways such appearances are taking place in their own.”

Do your work – as unto the Lord.


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 15 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her award-winning books include Soul Strong, Life-Giving Choices, Dwelling Places, and Ordinary Graces. Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and AWSA, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for ‘The Write Conversation.’ 

Whether coaching writers and speakers, pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. As a communications teacher, she has served on the faculty of Speak Up Conference, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Florida Christian Writers Conference, Asheville Christian Writers Conference and co-directs the annual spiritual retreat reNEW – retreat for New England Writing & Speaking. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, McDowell shares words from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at WWW.LUCINDASECRESTMCDOWELL.COM


  1. Love this, Lucinda. This reminder was very timely for me. Hugs, dear friend.

  2. So true! God is the one who carries our writing to expected and unexpected places. It's on His shoulders how He chooses to use us. I have a feeling when we get to heaven, we may well be surprised how He has used what we have written for His glory. Just because feedback can be discouragingly infrequent, there's so much of which we are unaware. We can choose to have faith in what cannot be seen. Thanks for this beautiful reminder, Lucinda. I can say for sure that you have had an impact on me with your feedback on my work. So encouraging. Thank you for responding in faithfulness to God's call on your life.

  3. Thanks so much for your well timed blog--for me! It’s been a difficult time in my life and finally my grandson is responding. He was on the vent for over a month. A true miracle.

  4. Thank you for these words of encouragement. You hit the nail right on the head!

  5. Thank you!! I needed this encouragement today!

  6. Thank you so much for this. Humbling, encouraging and sends a clear message I so needed today. Blessings.

  7. God knows what we need to hear - and when we need to hear it. Thank you for listening to Him!

  8. Thank you for this! A reminder that is always needed.

  9. Yes. What a humbling reminder we can't put our expectations on what we can see. Who knows what God's doing in someone else's heart.

  10. Thank you for such powerful examples.

  11. I absolutely needed these words. Now. Today. Thank you. I made a difference in my life.