I’ve been paralyzed a few times in my life. Paralyzed by fear. The first time it happened I was rock climbing on the cliffs on the north shore of Lake Superior in Northern Ontario, Canada. I’d climbed those cliffs more times than I could count. The idea of needing something to make sure I was safe, like a harness and ropes, didn’t enter my head. Until one day in early summer. My brother and I had driven out to our favorite climbing spot. When we arrived he realized he’d left his boots at home. We knew enough to realize he shouldn’t climb in street shoes, but I wanted to be up on the cliffs with the wind in my hair and the pounding surf below me. So I went alone.
The climb up was fine—no more of a challenge than any other time. I saw a ledge that I thought would give me a place to rest and a good view. I managed to crawl up onto it and for a while thought I was in heaven. Then it was time to start down. I looked over the edge. I couldn't see anything but the rocks below. I was going to have to go over that rim blind, feeling for a foothold. I hesitated and looked in the direction where I knew my brother was waiting. I couldn’t see him, nor any other human being. I was alone and I was afraid, so afraid that for some time I couldn’t move. I just stood there, staring down.
Eventually I told myself there was only one way off that ledge, so I slowly tried to ease myself over. When I started to slip I knew I was in trouble. Nothing I grabbed hold of was secure. I went over the brink of that cliff and found myself in midair. That’s when I did something I had never done before. I called out to God. I stated the obvious: “God, I’m falling!” I don’t know what I expected Him to do, but I knew He was the only one who could help me. He did. I’m alive to tell the tale.
Writing can sometimes be a lot like trying to get down off a ledge on a high cliff. You’re out there alone. You produce a work that satisfies you. For a while, you’re in heaven. Then it’s time to let someone else read it. Most writers, especially if they are just beginning, have at least a moment’s pause at that point. Some of us will stand in that place for some time, paralyzed. Some of us never move from that point. We stay on that cliff. We live there. The view is great. We keep producing work we’re happy with, but never show it to anyone. It’s safe there. Why risk the climb down?
Eventually we all realize we must. We can’t live on that ledge. That’s not where we belong. That’s not where God wants us to be. So we ease ourselves over the brink and submit our writing to a publisher. Suddenly we’re in mid air. Our work is out there somewhere and it’s out of our control. What now?
The apostle Peter knew what this was like. He was in a sinking ship one day when Jesus showed up and told him to get out of the boat. Peter obeyed without thinking. When he looked down at the crashing waves his fear caused him to sink, but “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” (Matthew 14:31)
There will always be times when we look down at the waves, when we are fearful and reluctant to do what God wants. There will always be times when we save our writing in a computer file and are tempted to leave it there.
That’s a good time to do what I did in midair over a rocky beach on Lake Superior. Call out to God. Tell Him the obvious. Tell Him you’re afraid. Tell Him you don’t like this feeling, but whatever happens next, you trust Him. Then do it again. And again. Keep sending your work out into the world where God can use it. He will. And you’ll live to tell the tale.
Marcia’s inspirational writing has won awards in both Canada and the U.S. Her devotionals are distributed to thousands and her novel, One Smooth Stone, won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. Marcia is also a sought-after speaker for women’s events. Visit her at www.vinemarc.com