Saturday, March 10, 2012

Laying Down the Pen - Janey Goude

One of my most effective writing tools is the two-letter word, “No.” Simple, but maddeningly difficult. Mostly, because I enjoy saying, “Yes.” I love to write. God gifted me to write. I know it’s my calling, and often that knowledge is exactly what clouds my ability to clearly see His plan.

Sometimes I start off with His plan and then it becomes my plan. I want to continue long after He is finished. I am having fun with the plan. I may even be making nice money with the plan. I hear Him tell me that my part in the plan is done, but I’m not convinced. It's enjoyable and comfortable. Why would He tell me to stop?

Sometimes, I start off on my own idea from the beginning. The offer comes, and the job requires skills that fit squarely within my gifting. I don’t even think to consult Him to see if it is part of His desire for me. I mean, it’s a no-brainer. One day my grand scheme begins to crumble and I ask why His project is failing.

Sometimes He presents His plan, but I fail to join Him. I’m either too busy with my own agenda or too scared to step out of my comfort zone.

God reminded me why it’s important to be obedient when He tells me to lay down my pen for either a project or a season.

I read a blog post about a writer who laid down her dream of writing for a season. Her writing project was publication ready, but she strongly felt the Lord tell her to stop. So she laid it to the side. A short time later her life turned upside down and remained filled with overwhelming situations for an entire year. She realized God was protecting her. If she had secured a publishing contract, she never would have had the energy to complete the editing and marketing tasks. God knew her attention was going to be needed in other areas. Once that season had passed, God prompted her to pursue her writing again. In short order she had a publishing deal.

I reconnected with a friend. The last time I’d seen her she was heading up a successful ministry that impacted hundreds of children. She shared how dramatically her life had changed. Months earlier she felt God telling her to step down from the ministry at the same time He began stirring her creativity to begin a new enterprise. Since no one else knew how to carry out the ministry, she knew it would flounder without her involvement. So, she pressed on, sure she was doing God’s Kingdom a favor. Right up until she was admitted for the emergency removal of a ruptured cancerous tumor. As she was being discharged, she shared her work dilemma with a nurse she had never seen before. The nurse boldly asked, “Is it your ministry or God’s ministry?” With that challenge, my friend went to the pastor and resigned. A short time later, a relative came to live with her who can not be left alone. Now she spends her days caring for her relative and being obedient to God’s new plan for her life: a creative enterprise which He designed to be done from the comfort of her home.

These stories stirred a personal memory of God’s plans and provision. After my second child was born, God completely reorganized my life. He saw fit to end a lucrative career in health management and began opening doors for writing. I wasn’t making much money; but with no formal training, I was amazed anyone was paying me at all. Over the next four years God arranged for a small, but steady income stream from this gift of writing. Then, when our third child was born, I heard Him say, “Stop.” No reason, just, “Stop.” My, how I labored over that decision and grieved the loss of something I loved. But I couldn’t get away from His voice, so eventually I surrendered.

Saying “No” to a project I believe in or ceasing work I truly enjoy is difficult, even when I know God is the One making the request. At the point where He asks me to stop and I keep going, I am no longer a part of His plan. I am now working my own plan. I’ve realized that He can’t entrust me with the next phase of His plan until I am ready and willing to lay down my plan. Letting go can be painful. Yet, there is good news: the next step of God’s journey is far better than I could ask or imagine.

Janey Goude and her husband of twenty years homeschool their four children, ranging from elementary school to high school. She enjoys exploring God’s open doors in writing, editing, and collaboration. You can read her blog at