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Friday, June 6, 2014

An Empty Vessel and the Metaphor of a Tree

Do you ever have those moments where you feel truly inspired by God and know you are on the right track? Many authors talk about writing the story God gave them. It’s a wonderful feeling as the Holy Spirit flows through your fingertips onto the page. But there’s another kind of Holy Spirit experience that’s even better than knowing it as it happens. It’s the moment you read back what you thought was a mundane, common-place scene and find the gems He left behind. That’s when you know you are being used as an Empty Vessel of the Lord. And there’s no greater feeling in the world, because the emptier you are of yourself, the more room you have for Him. And the more Him, the better!

I have many moments in my life I look back to and see God’s work in play, even times I’d put Him aside for what I’d deemed more important things. Though I’d neglected Him, He never treated me as though I were of lesser importance. I think that’s why those moments are so special to me now.

He still gives me these wonderful revelations of His presence in my life. One most recent was as I wrote the last scene of my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest.

In writing fiction, it’s important to get the pacing of the story just so. That way, the reader can feel they are in the moment with the character. In the final scene, my female protagonist, Carly, is going to a spot in the forest to see the male protagonist, Cole, for the first time in many months. I felt this walk in the woods needed to take a little time so the reader could feel Carly’s nervousness about seeing Cole again. I wanted to drag it out just a bit so as to heighten the suspense of what she’d find. So I added lots of details of the woods she traveled and thoughts of past moments there.

I asked myself, “What would she be thinking?”

She’d be thinking of the tree her father’s car hit when he meant to commit suicide. That was the moment where Cole and Carly’s two worlds intertwined.

“What would the tree look like now?”

I wrote the answer into the story, “New growth in broken spots and animals finding shelter in the holes.”

I added the crunch of the leaves under her feet and the exertion of the climb and ended the story. Phew! It always feels so good to type “The End” even when you know there are reams of edits to make afterwards. So I read through the scene several times, clarified points, elaborated on ideas and …

Then it hit me!

New growth in broken spots and animals finding shelter in the holes.

Wow, God!

That phrase, unbeknownst to me as I typed the words, was a perfect metaphor for Cole’s story. You see, Cole is a double amputee after having been injured from an IED in the Iraq War. Carly came into his life to provide him with her prototype prosthetics and train him how to use them.

New growth in broken spots …

But that was not the part that really shocked me. It was the last words of the sentence …

… and animals finding shelter in the holes.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Could the metaphor be more perfect? I sobbed at the realization, because I had nothing to do with its use. It was all God … when I wasn’t looking. There’s nothing more extraordinary then the feeling of being an Empty Vessel of the Lord. Thank you, God!

Oh yeah, if you’re wondering how the animals finding shelter in the holes relates to the story, well, there’s only one way to find out <wink>.

Other Posts you might like:

God on the Line

Let Him Steal Your Show

Do You Ever Feel Your Offering Is Too Small?


  1. Excellent post, Connie! I'm now following you and will start getting your posts via email. :)

  2. Thanks so much, Susan. I hope you enjoy them. Looking forward to reading your book, The Moses Conspiracy.