One of the clearest things God ever spoke to me was “study to be a writer.” This has been the bane of my existence as much as anything ministry related. Let me set the story for you.
It’s 1999. I’ve completed all I can do at community college. It’s time to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree. The two universities I seriously considered were SMU and DBU (I wasn’t as familiar with TCU, UTD, or UD at the time). I desperately wanted the credibility that SMU offered its alumni. But the cost was too high.
I desperately wanted to avoid Dallas Baptist University. It was only five minutes away from my parents’ house, but it was Baptist. To me, that meant “judgmental.” I was a charismatic Christian who hadn’t kicked my pack-a-day smoking habit. I just knew I’d be an outcast there. It’s one thing to be looked at as unpopular. It’s another to be considered a bad person.
My stress level went through the roof. I couldn’t figure out a way to make SMU work. I wanted that credibility so bad, I could taste it. And I didn’t know of any industry where a degree from DBU was considered an advantage.
One Fall day, I’m at my parents’ home with John Mark, a close personal friend. I realized I’d been saying some very sharp and unfair things to him, and I apologized. I explained that I was overwhelmed with stress and didn’t know what to do. I’m not sure whether he suggested it or I did, but I turned on some sort of peaceful music and stretched out face down on the living room carpet.
I finally reached my breaking point.
“What do you want me to do, God? I’ll do ANYTHING!”
Instantly, words formed and were displayed before my mind’s eye.
Go to DBU. Live on campus. Study to be a writer. Study abroad.
And there it was. Suddenly, as clear as a bell, my stress disappeared. I had no more confusion. I had no more doubts. I even had no more resistance to DBU. I knew where God was sending me, and I finally found rest because I knew it was where I was supposed to be.
I had no idea that four months later, my family would be moving to Oklahoma and I’d have nowhere to stay. So even though it made no sense to my parents for me to live on campus when it’s cheaper to live at home and commute 10 minutes, it became evident by the time that they moved that God had prepared a place for me to live.
I met my future wife (again) at DBU. I studied English literature, philosophy, and biblical studies. I spent some time with and grew to admire students in the Pew College Society there (now called Paideia College Society). I experienced the love of learning for the first time in my scholastic life.
The humor’s not lost on me. The majority of my DBU professors would have completely balked at the news that God had spoken to me directly and told me to attend their university. Good times. Anyway…
But what am I supposed to think when God speaks something that doesn’t seem to be happening?
I wrote all that to say that part of that amazing directive was “study to be a writer.”
That was ten years ago. Since that time, I have been a janitor, an office clerk, a Web copywriter, an SEO, a blogger, and a Web marketing strategist.
Nothing but a bunch of journals and a blogs that aren’t a primary source of income.
Study to be a writer? Really?
Second guessing God is really fruitless. I’m speaking from experience.
But you were a Web copywriter? What happened?
I’ll tell you what happened. I realized I hated writing soulless content for brands I didn’t believe in. Most companies want to SOUND much more noble and innovative than they really are. So I was paid to lie for them. They would NEVER have admitted that, but that’s how I saw it. And that ultimately made me so miserable I quit writing.
So did God misspeak? Or did you only THINK you heard “study to be a writer”?
Neither. It’s just a much longer and more profound process than I anticipated. And, well, let’s be honest – I’ve let my fair share of years go by without seriously attempting a novel or book of any kind. As with blogs and domain names, I get tons of cool sounding ideas, but most of them I lack the passion to follow through on myself.
The truth is that I haven’t prayed and asked God for direction with writing until now. My history of faith involved more throwing out my complaints and questions and running off to whine elsewhere without giving God a chance to answer.
Now, when I have questions I really want answered, I get out my journal. I write down my question, and listen. I write the response that comes to me (obviously discerning whether the answer comes straight from my personal desires or bias).
The Moral of this Story
If you’re like me, you may have heard a promise or two from God. In this instance for me, it wasn’t necessarily a promise, but a directive (just wanted to point out that I recognize that). And if you’re like me, you might want an easy to distinguish path to the fulfillment of said promise/directive. But I was lazy and ignorant. I spent ten years complaining at God more than talking WITH God. He still may have waited 10+ years to show me why it was so important to study to be a writer.
But now that I’m journaling my conversations with God, I’ve experience answers that don’t take 6, 7, 10 years. He actually responds to many of my questions immediately. And as He does, He builds a sense of confidence within me. I trust Him more. I expect more. And I’m encouraged to believe that some of the hidden things will actually be revealed sooner rather than later.
That’s my take on it.