When I asked ABH President Fran Geiger Joslin to speak to my freelance writing class at Cairn University, she challenged me to think twice about whether I really wanted her input. She never gives the typical advice on topics such as how to get published, making a full-time living as a freelance writer, or marketing work on social media. Her message encompasses something far more simple, yet far more earth-shattering.
Fran’s message? Write to change just one person’s life. Write to advance Christ’s kingdom.
Why hadn’t I thought of that? Why had I never encouraged my students in this way?
Somewhere between the campfire services of my youth, where I yielded my whole life to God, and the mediocrities of my suburban Philadelphia life, my eternal perspective blurred.
Yes, Lord, I’ll go to Africa, Kosovo, Haiti, anywhere. I’ll do anything You ask, I said in my teens and twenties.
But in my thirties, that “anything” started to look a little different.
Will you give up the possibility of full-time teaching and writing to stay home with an infant and toddler?
Oh boy. Well, I never really considered myself a kid person, but if You ask, I’ll give it my best shot.
Will you focus on worshipping Me instead of worrying so much about doing things for Me?
Hmmm, since You gave me two kids who are allergic to sleep, it’s going to be a little tough to squeeze You in, but I’ll see what I can do.
Those “anythings” kept me so busy I wondered if I just made up a third “anything” that whispered beneath the frantic din of life with my two-under-two.
Write. Use this gift and the love I gave you. Stop making it so complicated. Start with the opportunities right in front of you.
For years, I struggled with a haunting fear that if I took my writing seriously, it might become an idol in my life. Of course God would require me to sacrifice the thing I love most, right? Isn’t that how it worked for Abraham with Isaac?
Enough of crippling guilt! I took the plunge. I stopped dreaming of becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and started writing for my local newspaper, academic conferences, book review websites: anything and everything that seemed within reach.
These somewhat scattered efforts yielded the pleasurable adrenaline rush of seeing my words—my name—in print. Like experiencing a runner’s high, I basked in the glow until it inevitably faded. A rush. Is that really all I sought from this writing life?
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”
I sang the song to my girls during countless sleepless nights, but when I talked with Fran, I realized I was the one who had fallen asleep.
In her book Anything, Jennie Allen says, “And God is saying, Look up. This is going fast. Your life here is barely a breath. There is more, way more” (2011, 71).
I still wrestle with the “more” God might require of me as a writer. But at least now I find myself reawakened to the possibility and I long for more. More than my name at the top of an article. More than a check in the mail. More than a “well done” from an editor.
What more do you want for your writing? Would you join me in dreaming better dreams? Dreams of not conforming to the writing and publishing patterns of this world but instead, writing to make God famous, to heal one heart? To store up treasure in heaven even if we don’t earn one cent on earth? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”
Author bio: Erin Ensinger works as a freelance writer and adjunct English professor at Cairn University in Langhorne, Pa. When not chasing her two daughters around the house and folding mountains of laundry, she enjoys hanging out in Stars Hollow with the Gilmore Girls, knitting for charity and reading classic British literature.