Category Archives: General

Like Shadows in the Dark

I had to cut 13,000 words off of one of my manuscripts.

The prospect of it almost made me cry.

Not only is cutting a real editorial drag. It’s also heart-wrenching.

Those words have existed. They’ve lived, not only in my mind, but on the computer screen. Other readers have absorbed the words, too.

But as I began the work, I noticed something interesting. Lots of phrases and sentences existed like shadows in the dark.

Now, garden shadows in the bright light make sense. They serve a purpose. They shelter, they refresh, they complement. Their movement in the breeze identifies the object.

They derive their size and shape from the object behind which the sun is prevented from shining.

But a shadow in the dark has no purpose. It is extraneous.

So I spent an entire week searching for shadows in the dark in my manuscript.

Here’s what I found:

  • repetitive phrases.
  • Overly descriptive language.
  • Parts of scenes that could be omitted to speed up the action.
  • Dialogue that’s too wordy.
  • Scenes that are nice but not absolutely necessary.

This past week, I grew in my craft as a writer. I read through my edited manuscript and declared it “way better.”

It read like a garden that’s just had a good spring cleaning. No more weeds, shaggy bushes or overhanging branches. Neat and trimmed.

Only the necessary shadows remain.

 

 

Reading today in Genesis 22 where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

It seems such a strange command. After all, God was about to judge the surrounding nations that performed child sacrifice.

But we know how it turned out. Abraham proved his obedience.

And God provided a substitute, a ram for the sacrifice.

The Lord said, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withhold from me your son, your only son.”

The next time the Lord spoke He said: “I swear by Myself that because you have not withheld your only son, that I will bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky…”

A powerful test.

Followed by a powerful blessing.

What would it look like in my life, or your life, if we passed a similar test?

How would the Lord bless us?

I believe He is waiting for us to show ourselves completely obedient.

My test of obedience might look different from yours.

But God’s blessing always follows our faith.

Am I stubbornly or fearfully holding on for dear life to something that I should relinquish to God?

A cherished habit? A long-held ambition? A way of life that is not holy? A fearful refusal to respond obediently to God’s call to step onto an untested path?

Remember, the Lord loves to prove Himself faithful.

Our obedience and faith identifies us as Christ’s brothers and sisters.

The test for each of us is death.

Not necessarily physical death. But dying to anything that is not God’s direction.

Jesus said that we must do this daily. (Luke 9:23)

Wow! A tall order.

But this is the daily act of a child of the Kingdom.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NIV Bible)

 

Wednesday’s Word

Wednesday’s Word is:

Ballyhoo, noun

Pronounced: bal-ee-hoo, with accent on first syllable.

Definition: 1. loud noise or fuss; confused state or commotion 2. extravagant or sensational publicity

Try using this word in a sentence.

Last week’s word was: abnegate.

“The priest’s religion required that he abnegate the pleasures of the world.”

Belief is the Work

In the past few years I’ve talked to many people who have a kind of belief in God, but not really any sort of relationship with Him.

Most of the time when I say that it is possible to have a close, personal relationship with God, I’ll get an answer something like this:

“Well, ultimately I’d like to get right with God, but first I have to work on myself so God will accept me.”

I know someone who’s been saying this for the past 35 years. And he’s no closer to being acceptable. He hasn’t changed a bit. I’d like to ask him, “Is it working for you?”

How sad that so many cling to this, “I’ll work on myself a bit,” way of thinking.

I guess it’s pride. We really want to believe that our own effort will make us better people, and that God will give us an “A” for effort.

It doesn’t work that way.

Now Abraham, way back in the book of Genesis was a pretty good man. He obeyed God, worshiped God. He was good to his family, listened to his wife, even supported his nephew for a long time.

But none of these good acts made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes.

Here’s the secret to righteousness:

Believe God. Hebrews 11:6 states: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

That’s it. So simple that we scoff at the very idea. Believe? That’s it?

That’s all I gotta do?

Can’t be.

But yes, Genesis states, “Abram (Abraham) believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

And God has not changed His method in all these 35 hundred years since Abraham.

If He had changed, Jesus Christ would not have had to be born as the Savior.

What a wasted death His would have been if there were any other way to get right with God.

It is that simple.

But so difficult. Because we don’t want to accept that we can’t do it on our own.

Put that pride aside. Pray to Jesus Christ. Say, “I give up, Lord. I can’t make it to heaven based on anything I do. I believe you died in my place, purchased my pardon for all my sins. Please come live within me and be my God.”

That’s it. So simple. Do it today!

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

“The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked “Sirs, what I do to be saved.” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts. 16:20-31 NIV Bible)