Sunday, June 6, 2021

Overcoming Writer’s Dread

by Audrey Frank @AudreyCFrank

Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster (Proverbs 1:33).

Four-year-old Rumba was hiding under his bed.

He was overcome with dread. An elephant thundered through the village and everyone knew that the gigantic creatures caused destruction and death. With each mighty footstep, they pound the ground with six tons of force. Crops don’t have a chance. And no crops would mean starvation for this community of subsistence farmers.

I ran outside my mud house to see what the ruckus was about. I’d only ever seen an elephant at the zoo back in my home country. This was exciting!

Sure enough, there he was, loping across the hillside behind our little plot of land. He didn’t look too dangerous to me; he looked sad and forlorn. I wondered how he’d gotten separated from his herd. 

A gaggle of men and boys followed just close enough to aim at the poor creature with their rudimentary wooden bows. The arrows bounced off the enormous animal like scattered toothpicks at a diner. The elephant remained unfazed and in no hurry whatsoever.

My husband jumped in our four-wheel-drive along with the village elders and headed for the closest wildlife station 2 hours away.

In the end, the lost elephant was reunited with his herd. No damage was done and we all were left with an exciting tale to tell.

On Sunday during testimony time at church, every last story was a declaration of God’s protection from the elephant. Rumba came out from under his bed and dressed in his best clothes. The little boy’s eyes shone with excitement as his dad told us how his children hadn’t gone to school that day for dread of the elephant. But hallelujah! They were safe now.

Their praise was sincere, for their dread had been genuine. 

We can be overtaken by dread of disaster. It can drive us to hide under our beds, or chase giants and fire at them with toothpicks.

For writers, even dreams and opportunities can tromp through our backyards like a giant elephant, paralyzing us with dread of what might go wrong. From our hiding place under the bed, editors, publishers, and even readers can look a whole lot like scary elephants.

Do you dream of becoming an author? Of writing one more book? Do you hear the ruckus outside your comfort zone, calling you to come and see? What will you do, hide or run out and meet it? What you thought was dangerous might just be exciting. It may lead to the story of a lifetime.

The Old Testament language of Hebrew describes two basic types of fear. Yara’ means fear of the Lord. This fear can be understood as healthy, respectful reverence. A child who listens to and obeys her parents illustrates yara’. An athlete who respects his coach and carefully listens for and follows his instructions demonstrates yara’. Yara’ leads to blessing, increased strength, increased wisdom, and increased blessing. 

A writer who dares to fear the Lord can face her fear of elephants.

When we fear the Lord, we hang on His words. We listen for them. We follow His instruction. Yara’ is healthy fear. It turns our writing into an act of worship.

Pachad, however, is a consuming fear, one that Jewish scholars have translated dread. It is this kind of fear that keeps us awake at night, unable to enjoy life. Pachad makes us fear disaster or rejection. 

Pachad fitly describes writer’s dread. 

It makes us compare ourselves to others and grow envious and bitter. Pachad keeps us hidden, afraid to embrace opportunity or make ourselves vulnerable by jumping into the action. Pachad is unhealthy fear. 

There is a way to overcome writer’s dread.

Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster (Proverbs 1:33).

When we listen to the Lord, we need not have pachad. Instead of dread, we will dwell secure. We will be at ease. We will sleep at night, we will promote our fellow writers instead of envying them, we will trust that each rejection of our manuscript is simply a door closed by the One we trust. The One who is leading us in a right way to the right time and place for our words to be made known.

Yara’ changes everything.

We can run outside and see the elephant. We can be excited! And on Sunday we will have a story to tell.


Audrey Frank is an author, speaker, and storyteller. The stories she shares are brave and true. They give voice to those whose words are silenced by shame, the hard things in life that don’t make sense, and the losses that leave us wondering if we will survive. Audrey and her family have spent over twenty years living and working among different cultures and world views, and she has found that God’s story of redemption spans every geography and culture. He is the God of Instead, giving honor instead of shame, gladness instead of mourning, hope instead of despair. Although she has three different degrees in communication and intercultural studies, Audrey’s greatest credential is that she is known and loved by the One who made her.

Audrey is the author of Covered Glory: The Face of Honor and Shame in the Muslim World (Harvest House Publishers), an outpouring of Audrey’s heart to introduce others to the God of Instead. Shame is not unique to the developing world, the plight of the women behind veils, young girls trafficked across borders; shame is lurking in hearts everywhere. Through powerful stories from women around the world, Covered Glory illuminates the power of the Gospel to remove shame, giving honor instead. Available at favorite booksellers: BARNES & NOBLE , BOOKS A MILLIONAMAZON.


  1. Thank you for this insight! "Yara" helps me to remember that God has called me to write and with Him all things are possible. Excitement, not dread is my hope.

  2. Thank you, Audrey, for this beautiful message. It's so easy to become a slave to pachad and so important to remember that the true fear of God will overcome.

  3. The elephant story is exciting and you made a great point. Thanks for sharing the two Hebrew words for fear. We know we are to fear the Lord but the definitions make the differences more clear.

  4. I love the word "yara" and how its demonstrated through us in increased strength, increased wisdom and increased blessings. Thank you, Audrey, for your encouragement this morning!