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"Does writing get easier the more you do it?" someone asked me recently. After three decades of making a living by putting words on paper, I have to answer no. The more I write, the more aware I am of problems—clichés, dull spots, weak images, repetitions. Whenever I attempt some other difficult activity, like climbing a steep and scary mountain, I remind myself, "Yes, but it's easier than writing!"

One day as I was wallowing in a writer's funk, I found myself wondering whether God knew something of the process I was going through. God spoke, of course, but did he write? I searched the Bible for examples.

The Ten Commandments came immediately to mind. Exodus reports that God gave Moses two "tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God," emphasizing that "the tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets" (Ex. 31:18; 32:16). Scholars note that the tablets established a treaty, or covenant, between God and the Israelites, similar to treaties between other rulers and their subjects that spelled out what each party could rightfully expect. Unlike their neighbors, the Israelites didn't need to fear the arbitrary whims of the gods; their God had signed a straightforward agreement.

By the time Moses descended from Mt. Sinai, however, the Israelites had already broken the first two commandments. Enraged, Moses dashed the tablets to pieces—which led to the first divine re-write.

The next scene of supernatural writing occurred in the nation of Babylon (modern-day Iraq), when King Belshazzar profaned golden goblets from the temple in Jerusalem by serving wine in them to lubricate his great banquet. Suddenly, the fingers of a hand appeared and wrote four words on the plaster ...

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Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. Yancey's most recent book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. His other books include Prayer (2006), Rumors of Another World (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.
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September 2007

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