Sunday, September 24, 2006

Writing in Fear and Trembling... and in Faith

1 Corinthians 2:1-5
And I, brethren, when I came to you,
I did not come with excellence of speech
or of wisdom
declaring to you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know anything among you
except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching
were not with persuasive words of human wisdom
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men
but in the power of God. (NKJV)

Odd, isn't it, that a writer would find this scripture comforting, but I do. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul was brilliant, one of the most learned men of his time, and had every reason to be confident in the gifts God had given him. Still, sixteen years after his conversion, he still felt the need to depend heavily upon God. Paul didn't want to be limited to his own best. For his beloved children in Christ, Paul wanted God's best.

I've had times during my writing career when words came hard. Even prose that couldn't sing, came hard. My most interesting characters either uttered clich├ęs or stared sullenly into space.

During those times, I've cried out to God. Why? You've called me to write, so why can't I? What am I doing wrong? Why do my words have no life, no emotion? Tell me what to do! At this point, I'd have settled for melodrama. Writing should be a joy, a thrill. Instead, what I perceived as my failure filled me with despair.

When I've reached that point, and have done everything I know to do, everything that's ever worked to release the flow of thoughts and words, I've learned to stop and turn off the computer. Then, I seek the face of God, and then sit quietly in His presence, waiting. The Holy Spirit sometimes prompts me with this question:

"Why are you putting yourself through this?"

"Why, for you!" I said. "I'm doing this for you! I want to show your love to the world."

After I'd heard my own words, He opened my eyes and I realized the truth. I'd lost focus, and without realizing it, I'd begun to depend solely upon myself and my own giftings to write this impossibly ambitious book.

God reminded me that without Him I may be able to write a suspense novel that would keep the most critical of reviewers up until they'd turned the last page. If that happens, great, but that alone is not what I'm called to do.

My calling is to allow God to enable me to write stories that use His power not only to entertain, but bring hope to reader who is discouraged, to proclaim God's unfailing love and forgiveness, to show the world that there is no place a human heart can go that God cannot follow.

Someone once asked me if I ever had doubts about my ability. Absolutely, I do. Often, in fact. But I don't doubt God's. Not any longer. Several times I've even tried to quit writing, but God keeps calling me back. I know that if I quit, when I look back on my life, I'll know I've have failed. So in faith, I continue. I still have to study my craft and work hard. I have to exercise discipline. I have to show up at the page whether I feel like it or not. God helping me, I'll do it.

When my doubts threaten to overwhelm me, I return to another favorite scripture:

"... being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
- Philippians 1:6

Photograph copyright Greg Morgan,
Stained glass window of New Hope Community Church, Clackamas, Oregon

Friday, September 01, 2006

Smart Cat

I adore animals of all kinds, with the exception of rodents and bugs. This fellow belongs to a old friend of mine. Some would question his sanity. If I found myself in this position, I'd probably need a chiropractor. Linda caught him during a time of intense play, and he stayed in this position only for only the instant she snapped the picture. He scampered across the grass in just a few leaps and up the side of the fence. Something he does even while in the house. But, I can't look at this picture without smiling.