“Don’t despise the little things.” This is the writing advice Amy DiMarcangelo, author of A Hunger for More (Crossway 2022), offered to aspiring writers, encouraging them to be careful, to be beautiful, to be intentional with their words, no matter who might see them or hear them. Whether in a letter to a friend, or in the newsletter of a local church, or a simple note of encouragement, there is no need to despise the little things—the little ways in which one’s words can be used for the glory of God. “Entrust the fruit of writing to the Lord,” she concluded, “Remember that it’s not about you.”
In Amy’s advice to fellow writers, we are gifted with a glimpse of what makes her writing unique: she comes alongside her readers as a fellow Christian and pursues the hard-yet-fruitful work of knowing God alongside us. Amy doesn’t write as one who knows better or is better, but instead, she writes as one who has been there and struggled with that too. She then shares the fruit from those struggles, the wisdom that she has gained from Scripture along the way, with her readers.
A Hunger for More
It's evident that this adage of not despising the little things has produced plenty of fruit in Amy’s life. Considering her favorite chapter from A Hunger for More, Amy explained that it was also the hardest to write: “It felt like every sentence was a fight.” As she wrote this chapter on strength—encouraging readers that their desire to live in their own strength points them to a deeper craving of living dependent on the Lord—she realized just how much she resented her own weaknesses. For her, it was convicting and challenging because she was learning as she wrote, working through what it looked like to submit one’s weakness to the Lord’s strength. She explained that sometimes it would take hours just to write one paragraph: “It didn’t come easily at all. And I think that was just God showing me practically ‘You need me. You need me. You need me to help you. You don’t have the strength on your own.’”
With this mindset of taking God’s experienced wisdom and sharing it with others, Amy tackles the ‘problem’ of cravings in A Hunger for More, as she considers the many cravings, or desires, with which people find themselves struggling. For her, this book was borne out of a feeling that even though she was happy with her life, she still felt like something was missing. She was craving something—she just couldn’t quite put her finger on what that something was. As she considered her own cravings for something more, she couldn’t help but feel like these cravings were in opposition to the good life that the Lord had provided her. She found herself turning to Scripture and discovering what exactly it was that he wanted from her: ultimately, the Lord has put these desires in her heart because he is the only one who can satisfy each one.
Out of this discovery grew her desire to see readers find the same satisfaction in the Lord. These cravings were meant to lead us into a deeper hunger for the Lord—not to satisfy these cravings outside of him: “While we might turn to the wrong things to fill them, the desires in themselves are not wrong. The desires are there because God wants us to meet him, to know him more, to find a deeper satisfaction in him.” As we satisfy each craving—whether wonder, happiness, love, or strength, just four of the topics covered in her text—with something temporary, we’ll find ourselves empty again, hungry again. This cycle serves a purpose! The cravings, emptiness, and hunger are meant to drive us to the Lord to be filled by him.
In one of Amy’s first blog posts, she admitted to a deeply hidden secret that not even her parents knew about, and this secret eventually helped inspire her pursuit of seminary education. This well-kept secret? She had written a book and was in the process of editing it. This was several years before the publication of A Hunger for More and was an entirely different concept based on her desire to see others equipped for ministry. When she presented it for possible publication, no one picked it up. Instead of resenting this setback and giving up, she decided to pursue a seminary education for personal growth and edification: she wanted to grow as a student of Scripture and eventually settled on Westminster Theological Seminary.
She knew that she would benefit from seminary, but she admitted that she was surprised by just how beneficial seminary has been. As she sat under Sinclair Ferguson and Iain Duguid’s teaching, two of her most personally influential professors, she was impressed by their ability to bring to life distinctives of the faith. With Dr. Duguid, she was impressed by his ability to recognize and teach the person of Christ in the Old Testament: “I knew he was there! I just was reminded of the richness of Christ, grace, and redemption in the Old Testament.” And with Dr. Ferguson, she was especially impressed by the different nuances of union with Christ, and how the distinctions provided clarity on different facets of what it meant to be in Christ.
In addition to the faculty, she was pleasantly surprised by the amount of women attending Westminster and taking doctrine so seriously. She has enjoyed the mutual edification and respect shared amongst students, and when asked what she might say to a woman considering the pursuit of seminary, she was adamant: “Do it! While women don’t need a formal theological education to take theology seriously, we do need women in this [seminary] space.” Helpfully, Amy believes that women are capable of digging deep into the truths of the Christian faith, and as a writer, she evidences what it looks like for women to pursue seminary education, grow in the truths of Scripture, and then share what they’ve learned with others.
More to Come
While she always wanted to be a writer, explaining in an old blog post the devastation she felt when her childhood novel was erased from the computer, she began to pursue it more seriously years ago, beginning with blogging, and eventually writing for publications like The Gospel Coalition. In these writing spaces, she admitted that writing is processing for her. It’s wrestling with God in the challenges of life and asking, “But what does Scripture say about me and about this circumstance?” It’s coming alongside the reader and working through the good and challenging moments of life together. It’s recognizing that others might be facing these struggles and successes too.
With Amy’s writing and spiritual life, we are met with a picture of someone who has not despised the little things—someone who has taken their own struggles to the Lord, wrestled with him, and come away with wisdom to share with others. The craving she felt for “something more,” even though the life she was living was deeply satisfying? This became the foundation of her debut book. The blog she started in 2016? This helped to develop her voice, content, and heart as a writer.
The secret book that was rejected by publishers and had to be ‘put on the shelf’? This fueled her desire for personal growth and the pursuit of seminary. As she looks back, she sees this as a kindness: “It needed more development. Having a couple of years to let it sit, to allow me to learn from other people, to let me rewrite it, allowed it to become a better book. The rejections were hard, but they were necessary. I’m really grateful for them now.”
In God’s perfect timing, the fruit of not despising the little things, Go and Do Likewise: A Call to Follow Jesus in a Life of Mercy and Mission (Crossway), will be released in September of 2023.