Why I Create

They called it re:Write. As I sat my bum in a chair pinched between two other wannabe writers, (or perhaps they’ve already arrived and confidently call themselves “scribes”, as such) tears welled in my eyes.

Apparently, not enough of my life is “re:Writing” to make blip on a publisher’s radar. Apparently, the spontaneous energy that itches at the tips of my fingers and prickles my mind when there’s no paper in sight, isn’t really what good books are made of. Apparently, almost nobody reads anymore. Apparently, the mysterious romance of author and pen, discovery and syntax, melody and imagination just isn’t enough. And apparently, even a message from God, a testimony of redemption, this welling glory in my chest, a conviction to share Gospel through story, to wrap my story up in His story, just may not be newsworthy.

Between masters of market analysis and prestigious publishers, an author was sandwiched. Ted Dekker took the stage in artsy array, as if he’d clothed himself from the quirky Austin shops on his way to the conference. His message entranced me and coaxed even more tears through the rivulets already marring my makeup.

It was almost as if he implored me not to be there. His call to my artist-heart was that sweet-sorrowful voice of Create, wooing me to endure. I wept, fearful that in twelve more hours of facts and figures, the voice would be drowned out. Back in my room last night, I sobbed.

I picked up the program, willing myself to will to go back, to face the cold, hard truth of the dismal potential of publishing.

re:Write. This call to make something of my words is almost the same as what propelled my earlier years of an eating disorder – an effort to prove I’m exceptional at something. I imagine if someone would just validate my words, pluck my story from the slush pile and be astonished at its merit, then, then, I will be someone. My life re:Me, re:MyWriting will define me.

I’m sure dozens of people are spurred on by such messages. I know that their SMART goals drive them to succeed; I know they know what success looks like. I know they will beat me in this race for literary recognition. But, I’m also sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, trapped, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of others pressing to realize the same dream, haunted by the fact that only a few of us can possess it.

You see, I can’t write regarding writing. I can’t think regarding writing. When I do, I find myself tangled in the concepts I’m trying to convey, confused by my own story, caught up between the needs of a reader, the demands of a publishers and the Reason. THE reason. That’s it. I have to write for a reason, and that reason has to be beyond myself, beyond numbers and platforms and pie charts. I write re:Jesus.

I first sat down to write because I had a story. I had a powerful tale of a damsel in distress rescued by her one true Love, a Love who had pursued her before she ever knew His name. But it was more than a powerful story, it was a pervading story, oozing through my pores, from the inside out, shimmering on my skin, transforming me. And as long as I wrote from that place at my Redeemer’s side, staring up at Him in awe and gratitude, the words flowed. He is my Reason.

Sitting in the conference, I felt as if I was trying to write from a distance; squinting to see a becoming profile of my Lover, attempting to place Him in the best light, then pausing to evaluate myself and impose one story on top of the other. But I can’t see the real story from there. It’s clearest when I’m standing right next to Him, when He illumines, when I am focused so intently and intimately on Him that I can scarcely see the distinction between us.

So, I left the conference. For myself, pressing my story into palms, seeing my story in another woman’s eyes, holding her shaking shoulders and angling her just enough that she can see Jesus, sharing my story over coffee and in long letters, declaring my redemption on parchment that may never have spine or cover art or rave reviews – it is enough. It is more than enough. It is who I was meant to be and how my story was meant to be told.

My life re:Jesus.

Here I Stand.

Round the corner, confront the lion.
March, mouth gaping. Spring is crying.
Sobbing from skies still dull and gray,
Pushing valiantly the clouds away.
Behind her warmer sunshine creeps.
Mid huffs and wheezes, a soft wind speaks.
It tells of fresh and new and green,
Beauty as if never seen.
Each year, I’m awed at lovely spring,
My heart, her merry tune still sings,
Since last year…
And wish her well and bid her hurry.
To best ole’ winter, in his fury.

Earlier this week, I told you that I intend to keep going with our conversations about The Screwtape Letters and the One Word, Naked. I plan to keep my promise.

However, last week was Ligonier Ministry’s annual National Conference. I wasn’t able to attend, but I received an email allowing me to listen to the entire conference online, after the fact.

I grew up hearing about Martin Luther. I read my history books dutifully, and passed the tests. Then, as most kids do, I promptly brain-dumped all the information other than his name and connecting it the Protestant Reformation. I got a refresher today from one of the speakers, Steven Lawson.

Lawson’s sermon was titled, “Here I Stand.” Personally, I felt as if much of what he said was redundant, but I was captured by the words he read directly from Martin Luther’s Here I Stand speech at the Diet of Worms. It rang of such conviction, such confidence in the truth, that it seemed almost to me, second to Scripture, to be the actual definition of truth. In fact, Luther’s entire point is to define truth as Scripture. I am compelled to share this with you today.

“Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from me a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the councils, because it is clear as the day that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.”
http://www.specialtyinterests.net/lutherwords.html

Lastly, Max McLean has produced a fantastic rendering of Luther’s speech, and it is available on YouTube. It is a 3 part production, but I am inserting only part 2 here.
Part 2 contains all of Luther’s speech. Parts 1 and 3 are intro and background information.
– – – Forgive me friends, the code for embedding this video is not working. You can still follow this link here. 
consider.

The Best Kind of Poetry

I wonder if I inherited my urge to create from my Heavenly Father? Long before any author had tested their penmanship, cracked a thesaurus in search of a rhyme, or scribbled out a misspelled word – long before any orator had spun a tail or sung a psalm, our very own Creator spoke.

God spoke everything into existence, except for man. Man, he bent down and sculpted from His brand new clay. And then, He blew. God Himself exhaled into man’s lungs. With a sharp gasp, a deep, strong inhale, man became a living soul. And since, God has used the breath and pen of man to transcribe His sentences, His love letters, His thoughts toward us.

I was at a Cynthia Heald conference this past weekend. Her entire lecture, on Becoming A Woman of Simplicity, was excellent. However, one of the things that charmed me most was the variety of translations of the Bible that she referenced. Each one rolled a little bit differently off the tongue. Each shifted one tiny phrase to the left or right and brought the incomparable truth into a brighter light. I thought I’d share some of the verses that I fell freshly in love with.

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 1 John 2:15 NLT

The one thing I ask of the LORD–the thing I seek most–is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. Ps. 27:4 NLT

Will you put up with a little foolish aside from me? Please, just for a moment. The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much—this is the passion of God burning inside me! I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to her husband. And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ. 2 Cor. 11:1-3 MSG

This last one, I’ve had memorized for most of my life, probably in the New King James version. But listen to Ps. 23 in the NLT. I love it!

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,a
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD
forever.

Finally, this poem by William Wordsworth, is unparalleled. I’m only quoting the first several lines of his one stanza poem, The World Is Too Much With Us,  because it most clearly highlights the theme of simplicity, namely, simplicity lost.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God!