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From Panic to Focus

by Kristi Holl

Last fall I spent several weeks researching a mystery series set in a small village in the Yorkshire Dales. The locals who own the village shops depend on tourist trade from daily bus tours and mountain bike groups.  Recently villagers sent out a plea for the tourists to please stay home during the coronavirus scare. Students and parents (now working and learning from home) were coming to the villages in droves on their unexpected “vacations.”

They posed a threat to two distinct groups: the high number of older at-risk people living in the villages—and the sheep.

At-Risk Sheep?

Yes, but it has nothing to do with the virus. It’s lambing time in the Yorkshire Dales. Hiking groups climb up through the pastures. Bikers race down the trails on the other side of the stone fences marking the fields. Their dogs, often loose, bark at the sheep. The sheep startle easily, then panic and run. With pregnant ewes, the mere running can make them abort their lambs.

We writers can also react to fearful circumstances with panic. There are good reasons the Bible compares us to sheep needing a shepherd. We don’t lose lambs if we panic, but before our writing dreams come to fruition, we can lose the work we are carrying that God gave us to do.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Being terribly unsettled by COVID-19 is totally normal. Our families, regardless of age or situation, have faced huge changes these past weeks. As time passes, and people we know come down with the virus, the temptation to panic grows. Panic allowed to settle in (fed by constant exposure to the media) can derail our writing schedules for months.

Panic is nothing new for followers of God. Imagine the Israelites as they faced the Red Sea before them and the chariots pursuing from behind. The people cried out in terror at what was about to overtake them. And what was Moses’ response to them? “‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. . . God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!’” (Exodus 14:13-14 MSG)

In other words, when faced with impending doom and disaster, you should:

  • Fear not,
  • stand firm,
  • watch God work,
  • and stop spreading panic with your words.

Still great advice today.

Human Sheep at Risk Today

Most people in the world feel a similar panic at the virus situation. Specifically, for writers, book deadlines are right in front of us, but the coronavirus bears down from behind like those Egyptian chariots. How can we possibly write? Moses’ words are as applicable to us as they were to the panicked Israelites.

Remember that the Lord is still our Good Shepherd. We are still His sheep. We hear His voice. He knows us. We can still follow Him. We are trying to birth our stories during this time, but if we panic instead of trusting God, we are likely to abort the work He has given us to do.

Stay close to the shepherd. Do your part to keep yourself and others safe. Encourage one another instead of using your words to spread panic. Be calm and peaceful, and ready to account to non-believers for the hope that is within you. (1 Peter 3:15) Then, even in these times, you will be able to give “birth” to your writing projects.

We’re All in This Together

My mystery writer friend runs daily in the Yorkshire Dales, and she took this photo on the top of the fells. There were few tourists hiking or biking, and she was encouraged by the cooperation with the villagers.

Even the sheep practiced social distancing!

Don’t let coronavirus panic derail your writing life. Here’s how. @KristiHoll #ACFWBlogs #writingencouragement #COVID-19 #coronavirus Click To Tweet

Kristi Holl had forty-eight juvenile books published with both Christian and mainstream publishers before deciding to write for adults. When writing her eight published novels for adults, she re-discovered her love for historical mysteries. One of those novels, A Dangerous Tide, features Jane Austen and is housed in Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, England.

 

 

 

 

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One Response to From Panic to Focus

  1. Last night I found my breath was gone,
    and I could not summon aid;
    if I thought to see another dawn,
    t’would depend on how I played
    the hand that I have now been dealt,
    of cancer’s mindless ravening
    lust to dominate and thereby melt
    my Icarian wings, unraveling
    the faith and hope in mortal might
    upon which I’d long depended,
    but then there came a distant light,
    and my heart was thus defended
    by the One who would not see me lost,
    for He’d paid my ranson on the Cross.