Lessons from the Cave
I was heartbroken, leaning over my computer keyboard, and crying with disbelief. I received an email from the publisher days before my manuscript was due that all new authors had been canceled due to the economic crisis.
I limped into God’s arms grieving, but believing he had a plan even though I couldn’t see it. Only God knew my world was about to come unraveled in the coming months.
In a few short weeks, I went from the disappointment of not becoming a published author, to betrayal, followed by a broken marriage, a broken ministry, and a seriously broken heart.
Falling into a deep depression, I lived in the writings of the Psalms. David penned Psalm 142 when he escaped from King Saul. Saul’s unkempt heart and raging jealousy compelled him to go after David. He chased him right into the Cave of Adullam. In the middle of this chaos, David wrote, When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. (v. 3)
David didn’t quit, and he used his creativity to worship God. “We don’t write because we’re strong; we write because we are weak.” says author Liz Curtis Higgs.
How do we keep writing when there is trouble on every side, and we feel exiled to the cave?
1. Continue writing.
All of us have to come through the Cave of Adullam for God to use a message for His glory. While you’re in the cave, keep writing, even if it’s in a journal. Because I promise you, someday when God calls you to put your foot into the Jordan and get that message into print, you’ll have what you need to start. You might not use all of it, but it will be there when you need it.
2. Ask for help.
In the Cave of Adullam, David sheltered with men who were:
- in distress,
- in debt,
- bitter in soul
In other words, he was dwelling in the cave with broken people just like himself. And the Bible says he became their leader. David led them even in his brokenness. Ask for help, ask for prayer, and don’t waste time sitting in the corner of the cave while you whine and cry because your dream seems shattered.
There is ministry even in the Cave of Adullam, and when God brings you broken people, point them to Jesus—even the middle of your own distress.
3. Value your unwanted pause.
David was in trouble, chased by Saul, for several years. He went in and out of caves and the wilderness before he rose as the King of Israel. Nothing will stop God’s plan for you as a writer. Not any trial, challenge, or life event. If God has destined you to write, then he will bring it to pass.
I was recovering from my dark night of the soul through hours of counseling, a recovery group, and working out the difficulties in my marriage. And even though my official publishing contract was canceled, I kept writing, asking God to help me put pen to paper,
As I wrestled, I checked to ensure I didn’t equate my identity with publishing a book. Four years later the publisher revisited my contract, and my first book was eventually published. I became a better writer because of my cave-time—and it was valuable.
4. Embrace the lessons learned while waiting for an open door.
God is training you and me as writers to show us what’s important. If we can’t prove it in the cave by trusting the giver of our gift, then what makes us think we can do it outside the cave?
Cave-time is essential, and we must embrace the lessons. Don’t despise what’s happening to you. It is purposeful, and no pain is ever wasted. John Ortberg says, “God does some of his best work in caves.”
David isn’t the only one who had cave-time. Elijah found himself sheltered in a mountain cave when God spoke to him about his next assignment. And then, think of Jesus; he was buried in a cave and conquered sin and death in the tomb. Let me say again—God does some of his best work in caves.
Don’t distress over being sent to the Cave of Adullam, because remember, while you are in the cave:
- continue writing,
- ask for help,
- value your time in the cave,
- embrace the lessons,
- believe that God is doing his best work in your life in that space.
Comment: Please share a “cave experience” of your own, or give a word of encouragement to readers who are currently waiting for God to open a door of opportunity.
Cynthia Cavanaugh’s story of brokenness has propelled her to write, speak, and give voice to help others redeem their pain and heal through the pages of God’s Word. She is an award-winning author, and her new Bible study, The Godly Kings of Judah: Faithful Living for Lasting Influence, is from Moody Publishers. www.cynthiacavanaugh.com.