Written by Barbara Baranowski
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
John 15:1-2 (NIV)
The beautiful ivy had crawled up through the ground after winter’s cold and was overtaking our sturdy wooden fence. I needed to remove it. So, on a beautiful spring day, with gloves and clippers, I headed out to trim. The vine was solidly and deeply rooted in the dirt, but I was able to pull the runners away from the fence. I hated trimming those beautifully variegated leaves. To me, ivy gives a sense of antiquity and strength. As the day ended, I looked at the carpet of cuttings on the ground and breathe a sigh of relief that the job was nearly complete. When I finished the next morning, I noticed how dead the trimmings were after only one night.
Jesus cautioned believers to live in Him for the same reason. His words resound with the same thought—apart from Him, we can do nothing for His kingdom and do not become what He has created us to be. If we are like sturdy branches growing in Him, the Vine of Life, we will understand that the pruning, while sometimes painful, is necessary for us to grow in love, trust, and service for God, leaving us to be an ever-bearing, vibrant part of His kingdom. However, as the leaves of the ivy vine die apart from its strong source of strength, we too will quickly die spiritually if we remove ourselves from prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with believers and in our case, too, other writers.
As springtime brings new growth and the earth becomes rejuvenated with beauty, let’s take stock of our spiritual and writing life. Are we a dying vine or a vibrant part of the Lord’s
By Barbara Baranowski
Sometimes we write just for ourselves. Remembering and taking time to write out an experience allows the writer to relive it, perhaps for a therapeutic reason. Personal writing helps the writer to get inside the experience with all its imagery and meaning, while still looking at it as a spectator, as well. This writing may be journal writing. If it is never shared, that may be enough, or perhaps one day God will use the experience for the benefit of others.
On the other hand, God allows our words to live in places we will never visit and touch people we will never meet to touch and to heal hurting hearts. Sometimes we write to inspire, guide, or show how God answered prayer in a situation. When we have witnessed God’s grace as He worked in our lives, we are able to share that story. We don’t know where the seeds of our words will land, but through seeking His will in our writing, we know He will water that seed and grow something that can feed the spirit of others.
Not all personal writing aimed at inspiration comes from valley experiences. Some just come from our full lives—family life, working, church, or volunteering. Some experiences are humorous. Funny family anecdotes can bring a smile to anyone’s day.
Knowing when to share a story is important, and that again involves prayer. A writer’s emotions may be too raw or the situation/person too close. If that is the case for you, then journal the impressions for possible use at later time. A pen name (pseudonym) may be used for certain difficult topics, although the publisher has to be informed. Through prayer you will know the right time to share experiences.
When we have seen how God takes our greatest hurts and disappointments and turn them into something for both His and our good, then, our hope-filled words can make a huge difference to the heart needs of others. How many times have you read a book or piece that gave you hope, a smile, or strength? Why not do the same for others? Publishers will guide you in topics they need. Read publications and market guides. The Christian Writer’s Market Guide is a good one to check out.
What are the benefits for others? II Corinthian 1:3-4 reminds us, “the God of all comfort.. comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble” (NIV). In addition to sending us the Great Comforter in the Holy Spirit, God uses us as His ambassadors of comfort. Is there someone you can comfort today?