Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Dipping the Quill Deeper: When God Speaks

by Eva Marie Everson

Years ago, while at a small writers conference—and by small, I mean there were twelve of us along with one leader and his wife—I heard for the first time words penned by Frederick Buechner in his book The Sacred Journey. The words were few, but powerful, so much so that I asked our leader if I could take a picture of the page he’d read from.

Within a week of returning home, I had ordered a copy of the book, originally published in 1982, which doesn’t seem that long ago until I think about it. After it arrived, its cover having been only slightly abused, its pages yellowed, I sat at my desk, pencil in hand, and began to read.

Soon enough, I had underlined several passages from Buechner’s spiritual memoir, so moved by his words. Then, while writing The Third Path, I found myself pulling from his wisdom. One paragraph in particular, in fact, the paragraph I’d taken the photo of, goes like this:

God speaks to us through our lives, we often too easily say. Something speaks anyway, spells out some sort of godly or godforsaken meaning to us through the alphabet of our years, but often it takes many years and many further spellings out before we start to glimpse, or think we do, a little of what that meaning is. Even then we glimpse it only dimly, like the first trace of dawn on the rim of night, and even then it is a meaning that we cannot fix and be sure of once and for all . . .

What comes before these beautifully written, heartbreaking words is the author’s memory of a morning when he and his brother had woken early, full of excitement because their mother, father, and grandmother were taking them to a football game. The rest of the house was still sleeping, so the siblings decided to play a game at the foot of their bed. At some point, and Buechner cannot say when exactly, the bedroom door cracked open, and their father looked in on them. Buechner also cannot say how long their father stood there or if he said anything to them. He cannot remember what his father was or was not wearing. He can remember, however, that shortly after his father closed the door, everything in his life changed.

From that moment to this I have ridden on time’s back as a man rides a horse, knowing fully that the day will come when my ride will end and my time will end and all that I am and all that I have will end with them. 

Somewhere between the “once-below-a-time and once-upon-a-time,” Buechner’s father walked out into the back yard and took his life. From then on, life changed. It took on a new hue. A different meaning.

The gift of writing bestowed on Buechner by God coupled with the Almighty’s grace, His mercy, His wisdom, and His plan allowed the wounded boy-now-man to write exactly how he felt about that moment and how, some time later, his brother would respond to it. It is a beautiful chapter worth the reading and the re-reading.

We—those of us who have always thought in word pictures—have also been given this gift. We have the gift of writing out of our deepest hurts and our most elated joys. We pen things one year about something that happened “once below a time,” and then, a year later, we pen things about it again . . . only to discover that the words have changed. Our attitude about the event changed. Our concept of it all.


Perhaps this is more of a gift than we know. We have the ability to pour out onto blank pages in a way that no one else can do. Whether those words will ever be published or should ever be published is never the issue, nor should be. Finally, we write to understand those moments ]when God—or something—speaks. 

And so we should. Let us never take this for granted. May we write them down, write them down, write them down. And, in that process, may we learn more about ourselves and even more about our God.


Eva Marie Everson is the CEO of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She is the multiple award-winning author of more than 40 books and countless articles and blogposts. She is also an award-winning speaker and a Bible teacher and the most recent recipient of the AWSA Lifetime Achievement Award (2022). 

Eva Marie is often seen at writers conferences across the States. She served as a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild 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 persnickety cat named Vanessa.

Eva Marie's latest book, THE THIRD PATH, takes a look at 26 of the questions God asked in the Bible, then makes them personal to the reader. The premise of the book is currently her most asked for continuing workshop at writers conferences.

Featured Image: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


  1. Wow! chills as you write and as you relate what Beuchner writes.Thank you, for a deeper look within.This post reminded me of my morning's reading. I re-read in Matthew about Jesus in the wilderness. Familiar story. Familiar words. "Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." "proceeds" is not static, not past but present. Are we, am I catching the Word that is proceeding out of God's mouth today-this minute? Jesus said that all that He did and said was authored by the Father. Seems like He was in constant contact with His Father. How do we do that? forgive me, I am musing along as I am writing, but maybe the thing to try is to be conscious of "Taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ." Thank you for adding to the lessons of my morning's study.
    Blessings on your day, Ann

  2. If you comment, please notify me--I forgot to check that before...

  3. What a powerful and heart-rending post. I wasn't familiar with Buechner's work, but I just did a little reading and ordered The Sacred Journey. Thank you, Eva Marie, for this moment of inspiration.

  4. Your words are so encouraging to me, Eva Marie. Your exhortation to "Write them down, write them down, write them down" is so needed. As a creative, writing is what I love the most -- and what I struggle to do, day in and day out. Writing is a gift from God, as you say, and needs to be valued as such.