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Have You Made God Too Small?

Posted by on October 6, 2015

Three weeks ago, I attended the annual conference for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). More than 450 published and unpublished writers came together in Dallas for 2-3 days of learning, talking, and eating, sleeping (maybe) and breathing writing. Rubbing shoulders with Christian superstar authors like Bill Myers and Francine Rivers. The conference is exhilarating, exciting, and exhausting (as evidenced by the 3 naps I took the day after arriving home).

And inspiring. At a previous ACFW conference, I stood to worship, as we do after the meals. I looked over the crowd of writers and authors singing about God’s power to overcome, and couldn’t help being inspired and humbled that God would use us–simple wordsmiths–to accomplish His purposes, empowering us to work alongside Him.

This year, I was inspired in a different way.

Most writers have doubts about their abilities. I struggle every time I start to write a new book. How did I do this before? Why can’t I figure out the character’s goal and motivation? Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing? Wouldn’t I accomplish bigger and better things by actually being with people rather than sitting here by myself dreaming up stories of fake people and circumstances? Whatever made me think I could write?

During the conference, it’s not unusual for beginning authors like me to mingle with multi-published authors who have 20, 30 or more books to their credit. Rather than being (too) awestruck, I realized they didn’t get there without being where I am right now. I’m guessing they all had the same doubts and questions bouncing around their brains while trying to write their third, fourth, eighth, maybe even tenth book. If I may adapt a phrase, they write their stories one word at a time, just like I do.

The conference culminates with a formal dinner and award ceremony ACFW’s Genesis contest (for beginners) and Carol awards (for published novels).  Winners are announced at the ceremony, and each one takes the stage to offer a short acceptance speech and claim their prize trophy. This year in the acceptance speeches, I heard the hours, months and years these authors have put into learning their craft, practicing and re-writing over and over and over. I heard the discouragement at times, and appreciation for mentors and critique partners offering encouragement and hope when the road seems too long. I heard the joy of accomplishment, when the effort becomes worth all the doubts and tears and fears.

As I drove home, a line from a song by Addison Road kept running through my mind. Lord, I’ve made You too small. Those doubts and fears? They’re happening because I keep focusing on my puny efforts and talents, and not on your amazing ability to accomplish the impossible through a weak earthen vessel. I’ve made You too small, by worrying about whether I can do this when I should be confident that You can do this. I’ve seen You work three times already, and since You’re eternal, I doubt You’ve run out of energy or of things to say. I’ve made You too small, but I’m starting to think big. Like a Carol Award. Like twenty books. No, thirty! Maybe forty!

 

Have you ever made God too small? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to encourage you to think Big! 

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14 Responses to Have You Made God Too Small?

  1. Terri Wangard

    Thanks, Mary. That’s a good reminder for the stage I’m in right now, when I feel overwhelmed.

  2. Claire Olsen

    Great words Mary. My daughter is fortunate to have you in her life now. I am all about dreaming big because our God is able and willing.He is just looking for those who seek Him and then watch out! We have a purpose until our last breath. Sounds like yours is writing and leaving all your lessons on paper through stories!

  3. grhaggertyjr

    Yes, I could relate to everything you said. I’ve only attended one conference, but it really both awed and encouraged me. I wrestle with the opposite twins of wanting to run ahead of God, do do do without waiting for his nod and empowering, versus becoming so small minded that I don’t imagine God doing something spectacular! Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. debgarland

    Yep, refocus on God and adopt His perspective on everything in life, including writing. You encouraged me, my friend!

  5. my fireside chat

    I’ve thought that, too: would I accomplish more by being with people. Different stages in life call for different avenues of influence, maybe. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Thanks for the post, Mary.

  6. juliebcosgrove

    You just keep writing as long as God calls you to do that. Let Him handle the rest. What I loved about the conference was a lack of jealousy and competitiveness. Why? We all write firvthge same Person!

  7. Wayne Hamilton

    Good thoughts about being a writer + ACFW conference experience.

I welcome your thoughts on this.