The walls of the city lay in ruins; stones toppled on stone. A burnt, hollowed out kingdom that has been breached and broken. The few folk that remain are defeated and worn. The thought of re-building pushes against their dried up souls. Feeble and forlorn, all inspiration is beyond their grasp in this grey world of granite stone.
Hope bursts into flame as exiles trickle back into this once glorious nation. It flickers brightly for awhile until it sizzles and dies; the effort too great. With enemies pressing in on every side survival saps every ounce of strength they have. Disheartened and discouraged the citizens sink further into despair.
In a foreign country far away a man is stirred by the opposition and accusation that is now the mainstay of his homeland nation. In great distress this cup-bearer weeps over the reproach of the children of Israel. Four months pass as Nehemiah fasts and prays. He needs divine inspiration and direction from the living God. Nehemiah acknowledges his own fear even as he steps out under Godís leading.
There is much a writer can learn from the re-building of Jerusalem under Nehemiahís guidance. Proverbs 25:28 refers to our inner life being like a city and without self-control or spiritual discipline our walls also become broken down.
In the manic phase of writing words tumble out from a heart that is brimming with life. There is hardly time for a breath between the strokes of the pen and the turning of the page. Caught unawares, the writer watches as the words slowly trickle away until they are gone. The page is blank; the heart is dry. A once well-watered city is barren and bare.
Days drag on in unending sameness. Inspiration is gone; its walls toppled and broken. A flare of inspiration sputters and spits as hope flickers briefly in the darkness. Its momentum cannot be sustained.
A critic raises his voice to accuse and condemn; an enemy that presses in at the broken down gate. This accuser pummels and pounds as he seeks to grind at the gift that God has bestowed upon the writer. In despair the writer falls to his knees; his face pressed to the floor.
As Nehemiah received instruction from God so will the writer who seeks His face. Inspiration can come in sporadic bursts but in order to be maintained a plan must be developed. Too often a writer jumps into a project without considering the work that needs to be done.
There is effort involved in maintaining the gift of writing that God has given. A writer is a steward of that gift and the first priority is in recognizing that all inspiration comes from the Giver. The accuser will use the writers fear to paralyze and strangle the flow of words that God wants written.
Nehemiah, the cup bearer, was blocked at every turn and attempt to rebuild that which was broken down. He took each obstacle to God earnestly seeking for direction. He was able to face his fear because he knew the One who commissioned him had also equipped him. Rejection and opposition were taken in prayer to God.
Writers block can be viewed as Godís whisper that something is awry in the writerís life. It is Godís siren call to come aside for awhile and be refreshed. There are walls that need to be refortified and a gate reset.
Silent resignation to present circumstance is not Godís plan. Purposeful pursuit of the Giver, not the gift, is.
An exhortation from:
Nehemiah 1:3-4 (NIV)
They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Proverbs 25:28 (NIV)
Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
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