“All stories should have a beginning, a middle and an end,” the speaker at our local writers’ group reminded us. I resisted the temptation to roll my eyes.
Way back in school days, my English teacher told the class this every time she set us an essay. Years later, I did a writing course by correspondence, and one of the first tutorials enlarged on the same principle. “Start with an opening paragraph that will catch your reader’s interest.” (You need a beginning.)
“Make sure that your story moves forward.” (There’s the middle). “After the main theme is complete, write a clear dénouement. In other words, end well.)
The Planners: Some writers I know spend hours mapping out their story before they start. They plan the beginning, the middle and the end. They choose their characters and think of how they will develop during the story. Most important, they know how the story will end. Only once they have it all planned out are they ready to begin to write.
The Pansters: Others are like me—what they call “Seat of the Pants” or SOTP writers. They may have an idea of the story’s general theme. They choose their characters, decide where to start, then off they go.
Which way is best?
For the planners, theirs is the only safe way. For the Pantsters, they prefer to let the story evolve and allow the characters to lead the way, provided they remain within the scope of the storyline. In both cases, these writers cannot work any other way.
During times of uncertainty, I find encouragement from the words of Jeremiah 29:11. Jesus alone knows the plans He has for me. And they’re good plans!
The Lord knew me at the point of my conception. (He was at the beginning). He has been with me through my childhood, my rebellious teens, and my years as a wife and mother. He helps me as I write, and He encourages me when times get tough. (He has been with me throughout the middle of my life’s story.) Most important, He knows where my story is headed, how and when the story will end.
So God is a planner. When things happen in my life that I didn’t expect, they don’t take Him by surprise. He knows what He wants of my life, and He will help me to reach that goal. I only need to stay close to Him.
At the same time, God has given me a free will. He allows me to develop my own ideas, make my own decisions, as long as they stay within His basic plan. When I realise I have gone off track, the words of Romans 8:28 reassure me. In all things God works for good with those who love him. God is there to steer me back in the right direction. He will work out events as they unfold. He takes the pollution above the city of Durban and turns it into the spectacular sunset at the top of the page. Kind of like a Panster.
What a wonderful combination—a God who has planned my life, but also allows me the freedom to be “me”. How good to know that the Writer of my life not only knows the beginning and the middle, He knows the end. He will not allow my life’s story to “fizzle out”. He will bring it to a satisfactory conclusion—according to His plan.
THINK FURTHER: Is there an action God would like you to take? Does He want you to interact in a specific way with one of the other characters in your life story? What is God’s plan for you, today?
Jeremiah 29:11—13: I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.