Monday, March 14, 2016

Watching TV While God Builds My Life

God says a wise man builds a house on rock instead of sand. Sometimes I think God's talking about building the books we're writing. (Matthew 7:24-27)

The problem is, I’d much rather build my manuscript on sand. Hot sand. Under the blazing sun beside the ocean. With a sweating glass of sweet tea propped on the beach beside my blanket.

Sunday school’s indefatigable flannelboard ingrained the rock and sand illustration in my mind, but I've missed something big.

God wasn't talking about manuscripts. Okay, that's a given. But He is directing us toward two facts: What to build on, rock or sand, and just as important—

Both dudes in the story were building.

Jesus wasn’t discussing city building codes or radical engineering theory. These were lives He talked about building.

"Mr. Leavell, we're to wait on the Lord!
 Psalm 127—Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it!" Good point. Watch TV while God builds your life! I so wish that's what He means.

The message is clear. You let God inside your life, your soul, and God is actively working in you while you do the labor. 

In essence: This book isn't going to write itself.

And you're not getting any smarter—or more useful—sitting around waiting.

I see a lot of Christians waiting on the Lord. Waiting for something, anything, to happen. They're not building. 

Waiting through our trials is how waiting works (Psalm 27:14 and Isaiah 40:31). Trials are intended to strengthen your building efforts and deepen your character (James 1), like mosquito bites and eating healthy food and scratchy pajamas. 

Trials build, and it's you who decides if you're building on the rock or sand. 

Writing a manuscript is a trial. I think that's found in 3 Peter, but don't quote me.

What does building look like for a writer? Here's a peek into my life to show how I'm building, in case you wanted to pattern yourself after a 39 year-old male who's an award winning writer that can't find where he put the trophies.

—Turn off the TV. Unless there's baseball on, then work and watch.

—Study Christ's life with all the passion in your being. Christ says those who hear His sayings and do them are likened to the person building a house on rock.

—Write. The book isn’t going to come to you on golden tablets. Write something. Every day. A journal, a blog, a social media post, a short story, a novel. Write.

—Read. Read widely. Read the Bible. Read philosophy. Read theology. Read history. Read science. Read everything C.S. Lewis wrote. Read Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson and tell me what you think. Also read authors that use their first name instead of initials. Read classics. Build your mind.

—Build your body. Exercise. Walk. Run. Hike. Yoga. Go places. 

—Do things. Experience life. You get one. I've lived longer than my brother did, so every moment I get here is a gift. Cherish the people you love, and who love you!

—Market like Christ did while trudging through His life—go where the people are. Stop whining and connect with people on social media. Go to church. Be a witness to the entire world by talking about your book. Blog blog blog. Share the good news at conferences, at work, and in the gym. Sing your message at the top of your lungs.

—Use your God-given talent. Are you saying your only talent is writing? Nonsense. Are you a good organizer? Use that for your advantage. Can you problem solve? Focus on making things sticky for your characters and solve their problems. Do you like to cook? Cook! Then use your experiences in a book. Be a better person by working your other talents, and your books will reflect your efforts!

Carefully, thoughtfully build your career. Build your life. Make sure you build on the Rock, and keep building. Never stop learning. Never quit. And never take your eyes off Christ.

Ha! I just found my trophies. I'd moved them to make room for more history books.

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. Peter, I knew I'd found a kindred spirit when I read, "Turn off the TV. Unless there's baseball on, then work and watch." Seriously, excellent advice. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Peter, thanks you for this post! it's spot on, DO, BE—WRITE! so true we can't sit back and wait for Father to drop our stories on paper or computer monitor. i've said for years that as writers, keepers of words, we are translators so to speak, moving stories and ideas from our swirling minds to that paper or monitor.

  3. Great post, Peter! Love the point about waiting out trials, but building in the meantime. Thanks for sharing this wisdom with us.

  4. Thanks, Richard and Robin and Annette for stopping by!

  5. I'm with you, Peter! With one book published, I've just finished my third novel. I'll keep writing, put my work in front of publishers, do my best to market if it gets published, then leave the results up to God.

  6. GREAT advice. Putting some of these into practice. It's the writing I'm having a hard time with :/

    1. Doesn't it seem the more important to us, the harder it is to do?

  7. This really hit the spot! I mean, except the part about baseball. Baseball, really?

    I seem to be hearing this message a lot recently, so I've started writing again. I love it, but sometimes I would rather sit and stare at other people's stories on TV that they wrote instead of watching TV.

    1. A mixture of both writing and studying other people's stories never went amiss. Keep writing!


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