Monday, April 3, 2023

Writing in Obedience When God Says, Again

By Kristen Hogrefe Parnell

The email finally came with the editor’s response to your proposal, and the answer was no. The finalists were announced, and your name wasn’t included.

No matter how long we’ve been writing, none of us is immune to disappointment. Sometimes, it feels as if our hard work gets swept under the rug, and someone stamps “start over” on our foreheads. We feel as if our good still isn’t good enough.

If you’re feeling low or a little lost in the wake of writing rejection, you’re not alone. The best remedy is to take our disappointments to Jesus and see how His living Word speaks to—and reinspires—the gift of words He has given us. There, we find the good when God says “again.”

Go wash again

Naaman was captain of the host of the king of Syria. He was a man of honor, but he was a leper (2 Kings 5:1). When he finally received an opportunity for healing, he became angry that it involved the muddy Jordan river. And not just one dunk in it, but seven! Yet the prophet Elisha instructed him to simply wash seven times in its waters, and he would be healed.

In Scripture, seven is often referred to as the number of perfection. If it hadn’t been for Naaman’s servant’s pleading, this proud captain would have refused the “disgrace” of following this lowly task. 

I wonder if Naaman started to notice a difference in his skin the first or even the sixth time that he washed. Scripture doesn’t say. I like to think it was the seventh wash—the one that required final obedience and faith—that made the difference.

Maybe we too need to wash again. Humility can be healthy, not only for healing, but for personal growth. We can gain a new perspective of our work and move forward from this moment ready to begin again.

I can’t promise you that six rejections later, you’ll get the response you want on the seventh. But I do believe that if you are faithful to the gift God has given you, He will use your writing and open doors in His time. 

Go watch again

In I Kings 18, Israel hadn’t seen rain for three years and six months (Luke 4:25, James 5:17). As a result, you can imagine King Ahab’s surprise when Elijah said, “… there is the sound of abundance of rain” (I Kings 18:41b NKJV). 

Although there was still no rain, we see Elijah’s faith in these words. God had told him He would “send rain upon the earth” when Elijah went to see this wicked king (I Kings 18:1). Elijah’s obedience showed he believed God.

But Elijah wasn’t the only one exercising faith and obedience. Elijah told his servant to go look toward the sea to see if the rain was coming yet. Not once, but you guessed it, seven times, the servant had to go watch again for rain. “So he went up and looked, and said, ‘There is nothing.’ And seven times he [Elijah] said, ‘Go again’ (I Kings 18:43b).

There is nothing. Sometimes, we feel that way about our writing. Is it coming to nothing?

On the seventh time, the servant reported to Elijah that he spotted a cloud, “as small as a man’s hand” (I Kings 18:44). That small cloud quickly grew to a heavy rainstorm.

The truth is, we don’t know if our writing will remain small or grow. We don’t know what its reach will be. That isn’t the point. The point is: Are we going to be obedient and faithful with the writing gift God has entrusted to us? Are we going to go write again?

Sure, disappointments can be as chalky to swallow as the Jordan River is muddy. But when God says “again,” we can trust He has a reason for doing so. Therein lies the beauty of faith. Obedience doesn’t always understand. Obedience simply does.

How is God asking you to be obedient to your calling as a writer today? Even if the instructions seem confusing or muddy, let’s write in obedience.


Kristen Hogrefe Parnell writes suspenseful fiction from a faith perspective for women and young adults. Her own suspense story involved waiting on God into her thirties to meet her husband, and she desires to keep embracing God’s plan for her life when it’s not what she expects. Kristen’s books have won the Selah Award and the Grace Award, among others, and her romantic suspense novel Take My Hand is now available. An educator at heart, she also teaches English online and enjoys being a podcast guest. Kristen lives in the Tampa, Florida area with her husband and baby boy. Visit her online at


  1. Excellent post with lots of food for thought. I think the agains and persistence and not knowing gets easier with age and when we strive to draw closer to God.

    1. Thank you for your comment! Drawing closer to God is absolutely essential.

  2. Thanks for sharing this wise and encouraging advice.

    1. You're welcome, Barbara. I'm glad you found the post encouraging.

  3. Very well put. Thank you, Kristen!