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The God of the blank page

The Life Less Traveled

February 09, 2011
At the end of December, I faced an early deadline for this column because of the New Year's holiday. I was fried from a week of travel and celebration and did not feel like getting up early to write. But a deadline is a deadline, so I dragged my groggy self out of bed and fired up the laptop.

Nothing. I had nothing to say.

I'd been writing holiday-themed pieces for the past few months, milking Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas for all they were worth. I thought I would wrap it up with a New Year's column, but I didn't have a real idea.

All I had was an empty Word document and a ticking clock.

Ah, the blank page. A beautiful picture of possibility or a symbol of abject terror? For most writers, it depends on the day.

It's in moments like these that I cling to the promise that I don't sit at the keyboard alone. There is a God whose Spirit dwells in me. Some mornings He is maddeningly silent. Other times He is so close I can almost feel His breath.

Either way, I take great comfort in the fact that I can lean on the experience of One who knows what it is like to create something from nothing.

You don't have to be a writer to deal with the terror of the blank page. People from all walks of life face circumstances that force them to start from scratch. I've sat across the table from a young dad on the verge of divorce, a successful businessman fired from 20 years on the job and a homeless ex-con trying to rebuild his life.

Maybe your blank page isn't as dramatic as all that. Maybe you're an empty-nester, or you are going back to school. Maybe you've just moved and don't know where to begin making new friends.

Whatever fresh territory you have to navigate, you do not have to do it alone. With a simple prayer, you can invite the original Creator to take up His pen and help you begin to write the first words to a new chapter of your life.

A guy named David once wrote, "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."

Think about it. The God who offers His help is the same God who, in the beginning, hovered over the formless world and spoke everything into existence. God faced the ultimate blank page and didn't flinch. He did not fear the threat of an unknown future, and neither should you.

So, relax; the pressure is off. No matter what new beginning you face, your page isn't nearly as blank as God's was, and He promises to guide you as you tap the first keystrokes to find your way.

By the way, the column turned out fine as most blank pages usually do. Sometimes just starting takes the most faith of all.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more from Byerly, visit www.jasonbyerly.blogspot.com or www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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