“All stories should have a beginning, a middle and an end,” the speaker at our local writers’ group reminded us. I resisted the temptation to roll my eyes.
Way back in school days, my English teacher told the class this every time she set us an essay. Years later, I did a writing course by correspondence, and one of the first tutorials enlarged on the same principle. “Start with an opening paragraph that will catch your reader’s interest.” (You need a beginning.)
“Make sure that your story moves forward.” (There’s the middle). “After the main theme is complete, write a clear dénouement." (In other words, end well.)
Some writers I know spend hours mapping out their story before they start. They plan the beginning, the middle and the end. They choose their characters and think of how they will develop during the story. Most important, they know how the story will end. Only once they have it all planned out are they ready to begin to write.
Others are like me—are what they call “Seat of the Pants” (SOTP) writers. They may have an idea of the story’s general theme. They choose their characters, decide where to start, then off they go.
Which way is best? For the planners, theirs is the only safe way. For the SOTP writers, they prefer to let the story evolve and allow the characters to lead the way, provided they remain within the scope of the storyline. In most cases, these writers cannot work any other way.
During times of uncertainty, I find encouragement from the words of Jeremiah 29:11. I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.
The Lord knew me at the point of my conception. (He was at the beginning). He has been with me through my childhood, my rebellious teens, and my years as a wife and mother. He helps me as I write, and encourages me when times get tough. (He has been with me throughout the middle of my life’s story.) Most important, He knows where my story is headed, how and when the story will end.
So God is a planner. When things happen in my life that I didn’t expect, they don’t take Him by surprise. He knows what He wants of my life, and He will help me to reach that goal. I only need to stay close to Him.
At the same time, God has given me a free will. He allows me to develop my own ideas, make my own decisions, as long as they stay within His basic plan. When I realise I have gone off track, the words of Romans 8:28 reassure me. In all things God works for good with those who love him. God is there to steer me back in the right direction. He will work out events as they unfold.
What a wonderful combination—a God who has planned my life, but also allows me the freedom to be “me”. How good to know that the Writer of my life not only knows the beginning and the middle, He knows the end. He will not allow my life’s story to “fizzle out”. He will bring it to a satisfactory conclusion—according to His plan.
OVER TO YOU: Is there a part of your story where you cannot see the way forward? Never fear. Your author already knows the way. He planned it way back when you were still in your mother's womb. If you knew He was reading this blog, what comment would you like to leave for Him? Write it now!
SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on her time in the cancer valley, where God taught her much about following His plan for her life.