I was asked some questions recently that were not unlike some of the questions I’ve been asked before. However, I’ve never taken the time to explore my heart to find the answers until now. The questions were as follows: How do you get from writing straight from the heart to publishing something? Do you find that a lot of the materials you start with get pruned down, or are too personal or painful to actually share, or do you trust that if God led you to include it in the first draft of something, it should remain in the final draft?
Good questions! And in answer to them, I’d have to say that’s where it all begins for me—asking good questions. These questions begin to percolate in my heart until they begin to leave an impression.
These impressions come more often than not through God’s Word—out of my personal time with the Lord. I usually read until something strikes me. It could be a single word, or thought, or concept, or truth, or principle, or verse, or entire passage that resonates with my heart. Other times it’s an entire book of the Bible or something out of a devotional book. How much I take in all depends on if I have time to snack or feast on it. Sometimes His Word will resonate with me as I’m listening to a sermon or message. Before I know it, the Lord is giving a message meant for me alone!
Often times a song will strike a chord in my heart. At other times it’s through something someone says in conversation that I take note of. Or a question I’m asked that I feel I need to explore. The odd time it’s a sign on the side of a road that will catch my attention. It can even be a bumper sticker or a license plate. Many times I hear the whisper of God’s voice as I’m in His creation. He draws my attention through something I see or someone I meet along the pathway and draws a parable from my life.
These impressions begin to stir over and over again in my heart to the point that they beg for my attention and I have to do something with them. That’s when I usually head for either a pad of paper, my prayer journal, or my computer and start writing it all down—recording my thoughts, asking questions, and writing out scripture verses. I turn them into prayer. I write something, and God speaks back to me from His Word. It becomes interactive as we go back and forth as He causes His Word to penetrate and take root in my heart.
I ask questions like, “what is making this stir in my heart?” “What is God trying to say to me through this verse or passage? How can I apply this truth to my life?” I take it and relate it to a circumstance in my life, or a struggle I’m facing, or a relationship I’m dealing with, or a situation I’m working through. Then I ask “What could this mean to somebody else? How could this be used to touch, impact, encourage, or inspire? Who needs to know this truth?”
I often share these impressions with a good/God friend. This helps me process my thoughts and make more sense of them. We discuss them, meditate on them, search scripture pertaining to them, pray about them, and feed into each other as iron sharpens iron.
Next I write out my impressions in their most raw and simplest form. As the thoughts formulate on paper they begin to take shape and make more sense in my heart and mind. That’s when it starts to really get exciting. Once I’ve got it all out of my system, I treat it like a puzzle. I begin to move thoughts around, tweaking and rearranging them until they fit and flow. I weave Scripture into them as they’ve spoken to my own heart. I add personal illustrations to them as they apply.
The Lord has, more often than not, used physical or emotional pain to leave a very physical impression on my heart that makes its way into a spiritual truth and eventually into a spoken or written message. More often than not, it’s the painful truths and difficult things I’ve worked through that are the most worth sharing with a pain-filled, broken, and hurting world. People want to know that faith is attainable and that Christians don’t always have it all together. People want validation. They find hope and encouragement as they hear about someone who “gets it” and has been there, done that.
Once these impressions are imbedded significantly on my heart I can hardly breathe until they are onto the computer and into cyberspace, often before I have a chance to think about it. It would seem that the more raw, honest, vulnerable, and hot off the presses (or maybe I should say hot off the _im_presses) my material is, the better it feels and the more hearts it seems to impact.
I love that words spoken straight from the heart of God to my heart will potentially bless, encourage, and validate someone else, whether in written or spoken form. Why don’t you consider having a little heart-to-heart with the Lord and see what He impresses upon your heart?
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Straight from the Heart,
Lisa Elliott is a popular inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple; Choosing to Live through Loss with Purpose. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 now in heaven) and serve the Lord together in London, Ontario, Canada. Visit Lisa online
Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org