Monday, May 11, 2015

God's Two Incompatible Tasks

Peter Leavell
Her hands shake. Black, swollen eyes are covered by hurried strokes of makeup, and I worry she’s been beaten. I ask. She says, ‘God told me to write. Then He gives me four kids and a husband who doesn’t earn enough for me to stay home. I’ve no time to write.’ It rips her heart into six pieces.

At the same conference, I discuss the problem with a man. His arms are crossed, and his fingers work as if squeezing a stress ball. ‘If I don’t write, I die. But I can’t get a moment to myself.’ He hunches over and his face contorts. He cries.

These are writers. They care little for being published, for fame, for perceived money. They must write. But there is no time to set aside.

We’re in the trenches. This is war.

We can’t be normal writers. No one will give us time to write, so we take it from the day’s hands like an open knife from a toddler. When we do, fifteen minutes opens like sunshine through a misty morning. We snatch our laptop and write. Five sentences, and it carries us through to our next fix.

Our families are our life. They are the few humans who try to understand us. So we bask in the love of our people. Quality minutes. Quality hours. And when they lay their heads down on pillows, we write as if Satan were on our heels and the click of the keyboard is the shield that keeps the devil from ripping our hearts out.

While other writers suffer from writer’s block and low energy and broken self-esteem, we suffer from fits of jealousy that someday we might have battles so time consuming ourselves. God reminds us it’s all wasted emotion, and we wonder what our characters would do when as depressed and frustrated as we are, because our characters are heroes. We listen to our imaginary friends and we take their advice, because it is good advice. They read their Bibles more than we do,
Credit: PhotoDune
so they know…

And our phones are connected to social media 100% of the time, because publishers and God want us to talk about our adventures, and we do, and we answer our fans and their questions, but we do it in the bathroom (don’t judge), or walking across the street (walk around us, please), but never driving, because we’re not stupid.

We’re not locked away in a study typing all day, and we’re doing all we can to not destroy our family’s lives by writing—but we know this is God’s calling. And we're learning that God has not abandoned us by giving us two incompatible tasks—life and writing—but we're learning our writing reflects life. Because we’re living our lives to the fullest. And one day, despite swollen eyes and stressed bodies and fragile minds, we wake up, look at our lives, and realize we have become a spokesperson for our God.
Peter Leavell is an award winning historical fiction author. He and his family research together, creating magnificent adventures. Catch up with him on his website at, or friend him on Facebook: Peter R. Leavell. 


  1. Oh, Peter ... you have spoken for a large number of writers. Thank you! This was beautifully written.

    1. Thanks, Dawn. You're right, there are many many writers who suffer from time issues. God uses everything!

  2. Peter, this is exceptional. Exceptional. And when you quash who you are called to be, there is a price to pay. But many do that as well.

    1. It's hard, Mike, to watch people who MUST write, but don't. It attacks them physically. You can see it. Even 15 minutes a day might cure them!

  3. I struggled for years with finding time by myself for anything. I cared for two elderly parents who lived with us, taught 40 piano students a week and dealt with my handicap son. I had the dream of writing since I was in college. I was taking Journalism and living my dream when my father died. I had to quit college and go to work as a bookkeeper to keep my Mom from losing her home. Then there were sick grandparents to care for in our home. All the sickness and death just dried up every word I wanted to put on paper.

    I learned that I had to live life. The words had to be lived before they would someday find a place on paper. Words were empty without the life behind them.

    I turned 60 this year. Two years ago, God spoke to my heart and told me to write. "Now?" I asked in disbelief. Friends and church family kept talking to me about my writing because God had used it to bless them. I have so many stories inside of me. I have files of characters and plots. My characters are clamoring to be born into this world.

    "Now?" I wonder in amazement. See God do a new thing in this desert time of my life. It will be His work, not mine. Maybe that is why we don't have the time because He is waiting for us to let Him write with us. Is there any value to black marks on white paper without God's eternal touch?

    I continually give the writing dream to Him. It is His to use as He sees fit. Maybe it is just for moments like these to share the truth He has taught me or maybe it will be the book I feel inside of me. Whatever way He leads, it is the journey with Him that is the most important.

    1. So beautiful, Mary. I love that—'The words had to be lived...' God's using you! Thanks, Mary!

  4. This was a wonderful, meaningful post, Peter. Some of my writing dreams have come true, others have shaken me to the core. It's so funny, I honestly thought the Lord called me to write inspirational romance after my husband survived cancer, but it has been the most disheartening experience. So I have been beset with questions. One thing I did learn, even though my "calling" seems to be secular romance, I now write only sweet not sensual stories. Maybe that's what it was all for. Anyway, I appreciate your words on the subject of needing to write. I've had stories in my head since I was 8 LOL and read Little Women for the first time. I even talk to my characters out loud. Yikes...

    1. What a great story, Tanya! And it is sooo cool you found a niche for your writing! Sounds like you MUST write, no matter who reads it...

  5. Great post, Peter! Encouraging and validating at once. Thank you for ministering to writers!


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!