rebelling against low expectations

Write by Faith, Not by Sight: Writing as Practice in Gospel Living

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Whenever I sit down at my desk to write, I face a sudden and intense battle. Accusations flock to my mind; I imagine the miserable sentences I may cough up on the page; I watch my readers’ eyes rolling, or worse, scanning through my work only to turn the page or click the next link after a few seconds.

My courage withers and falters among these intrusive thoughts. They wring my creativity dry; they turn my mind as blank as the page in front of me.

Yet recently, I have learned how essential the Christian concept of faith is to the writing process. The act of writing is not merely comparable to an act of faith, it is faith. In fact, each stage of the writing process depends upon the kind of faith described in the Bible—the faith that acts without seeing (Hebrews 11:1-3). Let me show you what I mean.

Step 1: The First Sentence

The first sentence is always a supreme faith-act: when we sit down to our laptops and open a new document, we are sitting down to create something out of nothing, ex nihilo.

In these moments, we face the terror of the blank page, a page comparable only in a very small way to the blank page of the universe that God faced when He spoke, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

And yet, brilliantly, we are able, in a very small way, to do the same. As writers, we rehearse the creation story, using our words to call something new into being, just as the Word Himself did thousands of years ago.

Unlike Him, trembling, we write a feeble first sentence.

Step 2: More Sentences

How weak are our sentences compared to the one first offered by God into the abyss! How pitiful are our results compared to the earth God’s voice created teeming!

Yet, we must repeat the same faith-step, again and again, with each following sentence. Our faith, marinated in humility, must be willing to write a hundred feeble sentences, all in a row. Even when each seems unworthy to fill up space on the page, we must continue.

It is into this humility-drenched faith that God can breathe creative power. This power is strong enough to help us string sentences together on a page. It is also strong enough to inspire change in readers’ hearts, a change that we are incapable of inspiring alone, regardless of the skill we possess.

We must believe in this creative power as we create. As we speak into darkness, we must await divine light, again and again.

Step 3: Submission

The final step of the writing process is often seen as the most important, the step that throws its shadow back upon the previous steps, turning them menacing and dark. For at this point, after the sentences have been written, the writing is marched onto the digital stage to face the caprice of the submission editor. Terrifying.

Yet faith must relinquish the writing to its earthly fate. As Christ’s lesser-known parable of the sower instructs, His workers plant the seeds but need not concern themselves with the results (Mark 4:26-29).

Accepted by a hole-in-the-wall blog on some dusty corner of the Internet? Praise God. Accepted by an acclaimed Christian journal? Praise God.

Step 4: The Untethering

Once published, the tether between writer and writing is cut. You are back to where you began, hopefully writing something new. But now you must accept that your published piece exists apart from you, works apart from you.

Your byline may still occupy a corner of the document, but to the reader you are insignificant.

It’s the words you have written that readers care about. They care little that you wrote them, but that they exist. They care little that you are a good writer, but that the writing is beautiful on its own.

Learn to humbly entrust the results of your creation to the hand of your Co-Author.

The Creation Cycle

The writing process requires biblical faith from beginning to end. In both the creation and abandonment of your writing, faith and humility are essential. Faith creates in weakness, asking for strength. Then faith cuts the tether and waves the piece away.

As you grow in capability as a writer, you will also grow accustomed to your weakness. You will learn to accept the cycle of creation with its many steps of faith. Yes, you will even face the awful hurricane of emotion that often disturbs young writers, and you will eventually settle into the eye within.

The routine will be the same, daily. Pull up a chair. Open your laptop, and, trusting, write your first sentence.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made,” (John 1:1-3).

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light. And there was light,’” (Genesis 1:3).


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About the author

Madison Wilcox

is a student pursuing her B.A. in English in the sunny South. She has a passion for words and a mission to share the mercy of God with others through writing. She also finds intense delight in the outdoors and hopes to be able to confidently describe herself as a runner someday. You can read more of her work at madisonmwilcox.com.

1 comment

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  • Thank you for this, Madison! I’ve never thought about writing taking faith, but I now realize it does. I also love how you said that God is our co-author. What a great thought!

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →