Recently, I was outlining a new story to post on WattPad. It was going great. I’d outlined most of it, loved the concept, and even involved a few of my WattPad followers on coming up with name ideas for characters, so they could contribute too.
And then I got stuck.
The hero in this story had his character arc based on control. He believed if he could control everything, then things would work out okay. The heroine had made a terrible mistake in the past, so she felt burdened by her failure and had dedicated most of her life and herself to fixing things. Both character arcs had a lot of potential. So far so good, right?
But then I realized that’s not how it works. After all, Someone has to have control and Someone has to take on burdens. And of course, this Someone is God. With my current manuscript, it’s geared towards the general market, so there are no direct mentions of God, though it’s filled with Christian principles and morals.
For some reason, directly mentioning God in the book I was outlining didn’t sit well with me. These characters are two very scarred people, so I’d have to go down to basic questions about God concerning suffering, if He can be both loving and apathetic, etc. Throughout my life, I’ve found bits and pieces to the answers of these questions, but something didn’t feel right when I thought about going through them in my story.
So then I tried to figure out why. I knew I wasn’t embarrassed of my beliefs. After all, I mention my faith pretty overtly here. So why was I struggling? Why did the thought make me so uncomfortable?
God was being annoyingly quiet. I knew He had my answers, but apparently He didn’t feel like sharing them -_- I kept on praying that He’d just tell me what to do, so I could get on with my writing, but He didn’t. I knew He could open the floodgates of inspiration if He so desired, so for some reason, He wanted me to struggle with this. At that point, I knew I could continue with the story and just choose whatever I felt was best or right. But I didn’t want to write something without God’s direct blessing and direction, so I took my bible, went outside, and opened to a random page. (Which I’ve found is actually a pretty effective technique.)
The very first page I’d opened to had the words Story Idea? scribbled on the top. The note was referring to Ezekiel 16. God begins the story by comparing Jerusalem to his bride, then a prostitute. Eventually, the prostitute’s lovers come and beat her.
I grimaced. “Is that the story you want me to write?”
At this point, it seemed He was feeling more talkative so He answered my questions for a while, saying it was supposed to be an allegory of His relationship with the average Christian.
“Okay, this is a great idea and all, but an allegory? I’ve already told my readers I’d be working on a different story; I can’t just switch. And it’s so different from what they’ve previously read from me. What if they feel it’s too religious and don’t like it?”
He told me that then it could just be a love story for us. It reminded me of what Allen Arnold said last year at ACFW: What if God just wanted you to write a story for you and Him and then to put it in a drawer? Could you write a story just to spend time with Him?
“Should I share the story at all then? Maybe I shouldn’t post it online.”
He assured me that I should, saying that love stories with Him were meant to be shared.
I should have been honored He’d so directly given me a story idea, but I wasn’t too respectful. I had a “well-thanks-a-lot-for-this-story-idea” kind of attitude.
But eventually, I realized that it really was an incredible story about God’s love for us and just thinking about it made me cry. I knew I totally had the freedom to keep working on what I wanted to, but I also knew I’d regret it later, because if God asks you to deviate from your plans, it means He has something even better in store. And I didn’t want to miss out. I don’t know why, but I think God would rather me write this story than the other because I’m supposed to talk more about His love than theology. Or maybe I am supposed to talk about more of the nitty-gritty theological questions, but at a later date.
And of course, there were doubts later. Starting all over with a new outline would take quite a bit more time, and I’d actually have to tell people who’d already contributed to my previous story idea about the change in plans. With these challenges in mind, I heard a voice ask, Are you sure God really said that? And as easy as it would have been to believe that voice, I’ve always told myself that if there’s the slightest chance God wants me to go in a certain direction, I’ll charge forward to where I feel directed unless I get something from Him saying otherwise.
So, now I’m stuck/blessed with writing an allegory I didn’t initially want to write.
When have you trusted or ignored God’s voice? What happened?