"No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. We're not keeping secrets; we're telling them. We're not hiding things; we're bringing everything out into the open. So be careful that you don't become misers of what you hear. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes." (Luke 8:16-18, The Message)
I studied my Weekend To-Do List. Laundry – check. Groceries – check. Phone calls, yard work, pay bills – check, check, check. Sighing, I poured a cup of coffee. Frustration nibbled around the edges of my satisfaction.
I felt it coming; The War of the Words, my ongoing fight with myself
You accomplished a lot. You should be proud of yourself.
I do. I feel really good.
Then what’s wrong?
Wednesday is coming.
Yeah? Wednesday always comes. What’s your point?
My point is Wednesday is critique group, and I don’t have anything to read. Again.
So write something. What’s the big deal?
I don’t know. I have ideas, but I’m not sure what to do with some of them. I seem
to lack direction, and I wonder sometimes why I even bother.
You bother because you love it, remember?
Oh, you don’t understand.
What’s to understand? You love to write, so write! Just do it!
Oh, shut up! Since when did you become a spokesperson for Nike?
Even a good night’s sleep didn’t help. I turned my attention to the Lord as I drove to work the next morning, but I couldn’t pray. I could only hold my heart up to Him for His inspection; my feelings about my writing swirled like a dust devil on a summer baseball field.
Arriving at 801 Main Street, I parked in the lot. Monday: time for a full week of work. But first, a jolt of caffeine!
I get my morning fix at The Hard Bean, a hip and friendly place. Great music permeates the air and big leather chairs beckon you to sit and sample the books stacked on the fireplace mantle. The wood floor is happy, painted red with big, black, whimsical swirls.
“Morning, Heather. What’ll it be today?” Cheryl is already holding a cup. She knows without asking I’ll choose a grande.
“How about a Chai Latte?” Cheryl nods and starts whipping up my frothy treat.
It’ll be a minute, so I walk to the mantle and check out the titles: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Bourne Identity; Pride and Prejudice; The Message. I pick up The Message, Eugene Petersen’s brilliant “contemporary rendering of the Bible…in everyday language.” I flip it open and sigh. My heart beats a wordless prayer, enunciating for me my confusion and disquiet.
Oh! Good ol’ Luke. Let’s see what you have to say in chapter eight.
It’s the story of the seed that fell along different types of ground. I’m mesmerized by Eugene’s telling of this old, familiar story. After explaining how the seed falls on different types of ground and either grows or doesn’t, Jesus says,
“Are you listening to this? Really listening to this?” (I can almost see Him as He’s talking. It’s almost as if I’m there, and He’s looking through me.)
“Why did you tell this story?” the disciples asked. (Good question! I think.)
He said, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom—you know how it works. There are others who need stories.”
Suddenly, Cheryl calls. “Heather, here’s your Chai!”
And Jesus has caught hold of my hand through The Message. His gaze is boring straight through the confusion in my heart, and He’s saying, “There are others who need stories. Go tell them.”
I’d like to say that since then the words flow effortlessly through my fingers into my laptop for hours on end and it’s joy unspeakable. That I’ve written diligently every day and know exactly what to do with the ideas I have.
The truth? My time has been filled with laundry, grocery shopping, work, family, and yes – even wonderings about my writing. What will I write? Who will read it? Will I ever finish that story I started?
Now, though, I refuse to engage in a War of the Words with myself.
One morning, I invited the late Oswald Chambers to speak to me through his book, “My Utmost for His Highest.” In the March 10th selection, he says, “Let God have perfect liberty when you speak. Before God’s message can liberate other souls, the liberation must be real in you. Gather your material, and set it alight when you speak.”
“Yes,” Jesus tells me. “Gather your materials. There are stories to tell.”
Heather is a member of Metro and a writer. You can read articles she's written for Focus on the Family on her blog: http://www.heathertrentbeers.blogspot.com/.