Writing that matters isn’t about what you study. It’s not about your craft or your skill. It’s not about theme or characters or organization or any of that. Powerful writing is about what lies deep inside of you.
One of the Bible passages we often mention when we talk about writing from the deep comes from the book of Ezekiel. The first 3 chapters are all about Ezekiel’s vision of God and how God commissions him. Then in 3:10-11 God says, “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.”
Look at that last part again: Do this whether they listen to you or not.
As writers, we’re in the same boat. We’re writing without knowing whether anyone will read our words, or how many will read them, or whether anyone will take them to heart. But that’s not the important point here. What we want to talk about is the prerequisite God gives Ezekiel: “Let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself…”
Why? Because we need to be in this writing thing to change ourselves first. To understand God’s message for us personally. To avoid superficiality.
Whether anyone reads your book or not.
Ultimately, writing isn’t about your readers. Not first. It’s about you. About what lies deep within you.
So what does it mean to let God’s word sink deep into our hearts? What does it look like? How do we do it? Here are some practical steps.
Signs that you’re letting God’s Word Sink Deep into Your Heart
You work to know it inside and out.
- You’re intimately acquainted with it, like a best friend or spouse
- You know it thoroughly and deeply from many sides and angles
How do we get there? You study it, you take time to think about it, and you pray for insight. We talk about this a lot because it’s crucial for us as Christians and writers to know God through His word.
- Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
- Psalm 119:34 “Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.”
You love it.
Think of how you feel when a friend (or spouse or child) is tucked deep in your heart. You don’t stop loving them no matter what. They’re ensconced. It’s a deep love that knows no bounds. That’s the kind of love we want to have for God’s word.
How do we get there? Make knowing and loving God’s word a priority. Give time to it. Choose it over other things. Love is a choice.
- Jeremiah 15:16 “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.”
- Psalm 119:72 “The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
It changes you.
- When God word has sunk deep in your heart, you act differently. You are different through its influence. It rubs off on you. It affects you. Think of how it is with friends, when someone’s influence changes you for the better. The influence of God’s word makes you a different person because it’s the influence of Christ and His character. It’s Christ in you.
- You see things differently. God’s word, like a friend, makes you see yourself differently and see other things differently because of their insight, their experience. It changes your view of things. God’s word is living and active. It is one of the few things that can penetrate to judge us. It convicts us and shapes us.
How do we get there? You let it challenge you. You listen for conviction. You open yourself to new paradigms. You pray for help in changing.
- Ask yourself, if I truly believed what God says about this, how would this day, or this problem look different to me?
- Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
- Remember, you can’t be transformed if you’re not willing to be transformed.
You look to it for your nourishment.
- Another mark of letting God’s word sink deep into your heart is that you hunger for it’s nourishment.
- It produces fruit—sending out new sprouts of understanding and study. And that glorifies God. And as you study, the word goes ever deeper.
How do we get there? Think about what you feed on. Often it’s things that don’t satisfy. Go to God’s word when you’re tired, when you’re discouraged, when you need strength. Too often we look to other things to nourish or refresh us.
- John 6:30-33 “So they [the crowd Jesus was preaching to] asked him, ‘What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”‘ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’”
- John 15:7-8 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” It’s not just about you. When we get our nourishment from God, we bring Him glory. Yes, the fruit is for our good, but it’s also for God’s glory.
- Think of God and His word as your rest rather than TV or entertainment. Often we choose entertainment for rest and nourishment rather than God’s word.
You look to God’s word FIRST for guidance, for wisdom.
- When you’re letting God’s word sink deep into your heart, it becomes your go-to place for direction, as opposed to the wisdom of the world.
- Listening carefully to God’s word implies that you’re listening with discernment, and with the intention of being obedient.
How do we get there? Listen thoughtfully. Not hurriedly, not distractedly, not superficially. Our world is all of those things.
- Wisdom and guidance don’t come on our timetable, they come on God’s timetable, and with God’s priorities. He may be answering the question you should be asking whether than the one you are asking now. Be open.
- Go where you can have some peace and quiet to think.
- When you’re making a decision—any decision—know what God’s word has to say about it.
The fruit of Letting God’s word sink deep into your heart
When God’s word has sunk deep into your heart, you find yourself speaking words of truth to others, words filled with God’s wisdom, because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).
What that looks like is trusting God’s truth and wisdom rather than your own. Not scrambling to come up with answers, or trying to cover God’s backside when He doesn’t seem to make sense. Instead, you’re resting in the truth of His words and promises. And, often, speaking only when He gives you truths to speak. Sometimes, as hard as it is for us, what people need when they are struggling is our silence.
Whenever it is time to speak (and write), we want to let our hearts speak. To create writing that matters in people’s lives and hearts, we have to be changed ourselves. We have to take God’s truths deep into our own hearts and spirits and lives, and open ourselves to what He wants to do to change us first.
THEN, as it says in Ezekiel, “go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not…For then they will know they have had a prophet in their midst.” It’s not about gaining glory as a prophet, but about people trusting you to speak and write truth, and to trust God, and His word planted deep within you, as the source of your writing and life.
We want to hear from you
What other signs show we’re letting God’s word sink into our hearts? What other ways can we do that?