Posts Tagged ‘discovering your personal ministry’

PostHeaderIcon Writing Heavenly Father’s Day, Part 2–Making Sense of It All

I had pretty much finished transcribing my spiritual journal entries by April 2008. Next, the Spirit told me that, beside my spiritual journal, I was to consider using anything I had written over the last twenty years. This included the beginnings of a book I had dictated onto a micro-cassette in 1995, every sermon I had ever written (I was ordained in 1999), and miscellaneous other outlines and notes based on spiritual insight which I had written down but never used for anything.

I was also told to consider most of the non-fiction and religious books I had read in the last twenty years, which is a fairly large stack of books. Many of these I had been specifically led to read by the Spirit as part of my spiritual development. I began to appreciate the value of note cards. I did 4×6 note cards on everything and quickly had a stack of hundreds.

When I was about done with that, I starting wondering how to organize all that information. I struggled with how it all fit together. Where was the common thread? Usually an author knows what the basic theme is before she even begins. But I did not. It was like writing a book backwards. The only thing I could do was to rely on the Spirit to show me the way.

At one point I had index cards spread over most of my dining room table. I tried organizing my topics along the lines of ways God is like an earthly parent. Then I tried organizing things along the lines of “where much is given, much is expected.” But neither approach seemed quite right. I was putting together a jigsaw puzzle without benefit of the picture on the box, and doing it badly.

Then I remembered some notes I had written just a few months earlier, in February 2009. The Spirit woke me up in the middle of the night and began putting thoughts in my head. At the time, I assumed these thoughts were supposed to lead to my next sermon. I had gotten up and made notes, with lots of arrows and diagrams.

The next day I had written it all out like an outline. Six handwritten pages. This was way too much material to be a sermon. Not only that, it had nothing to do with the next sermon topic I had been assigned. I had just set the notes aside, not knowing what I was supposed to do with them.

Now, these notes ended up being the perfect outline for most of my book. It was as if someone had handed me the lid to the jigsaw puzzle box. Suddenly, I could see how all the pieces fit together.

This experience confirmed for me that I was following God’s plan. He had given information to me before I needed it. I was just a little slow in remembering and recognizing what I had. And what I had was a topic–discovering your personal ministry–and an outline.

Now that I knew what the book was about, I needed a title. Some of the internet articles I have read on getting published said you have to have a hook–a title to get people to pick your book off the shelf and look at it. One day as I was looking through my old sermons, I realized the theme of one I had written in 2005 would be the perfect hook I needed:  Heavenly Father’s Day.

Despite having the title and the topic, I still wasn’t ready to write. I had a new “burning” question:  what was the message?

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