Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Obedience of Sinful Man - Why I Write (Part 1)

I recently returned from the 2015 Re:Write Conference, where I forged many new friendships and many great experiences. Most of all, I learned a lot about myself and my God. I learned how Yeshua can use the simple obedience of a sinful man to touch the lives and hearts of those he may or may not even know.

I could give many examples, for over the weekend I heard numerous analogies and personal stories. But today I will only share the story of only one man, who by following God's guidance, touched my life.
However, before I tell his story, I must share an analogy.

During the final talk on the last day, a pastor named Mark Bartterson (you probably know him as the author of The Circle Maker) told us about mustard seeds.
I'm sure we've all heard  the parable of the mustard seed. It's one of Jesus' shorter parables, found in Matthew 13-31-32, but it has a lot to it.

Mark told us that if we have been called to write, to not write is disobedience. But if you've ever done any writing, you know how hard it can be. It has been compared to bleeding on a page, and really no better comparison can be made. In writing, you put a part of yourself that even you barely understand out there for the world to trample. It's scary, but oh is it exhilarating! Too many of us, however, get stuck on the fear that we wont be able to write well, and that fear keeps us from writing.
This goes for anything God has called us to do. We let fear that we wont be "good enough" debilitate us.
Mark went on to tell us how our writing is like a mustard seed.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
"Why does a farmer plant a mustard seed?" Batterson asked. "Is it so it will grow branches and be able to bless other living creatures? No, chances are, the farm plants a mustard seed, because he wants mustard for his hot dogs!" In the same way our writing can be. We write because it allows us to express ourselves in the special and unique way God as gifted us to. We may also write because we want to inspire or touch others. Or maybe because we want to be a best seller someday! Whatever our reasons, God can make our simple obedience touch lives we never thought it could. All we have to do is plant the seed.

Now, about two decades ago, a man decided to obey God's calling to write. Like the farmer, he could not have imagined who he would touch with his simple obedience.
Two decades ago, I was a newborn. I hadn't learned to talk yet, let alone how to comprehend the wonders of our infinite Creator, yet He, in His great wisdom, called a man I didn't even know existed to begin telling about Him in the form of story.
 Ten years later, that man was inspired to tell about God in the form of an allegory that spanned over 1500 pages in the form of several books. Obedient, he wrote the story. As a ten-year-old, I still didn't know who this man was, let alone that God would later use his obedience to change my view of Him.
Flash forward to sophomore year of high school. This was a dark year for me. I had put my worth in the opinions of a friend, rather than in my loving heavenly Father. When this friend stabbed me in the back, my self-worth shattered. Feeling betrayed, I shut my emotions down. Without my ability to connect to other's emotionally, I grew very cynical.  My cynicism brought up countless questions on who I am and who God is. My view on him began to crumble and I soon descended into a pit of depression. What little faith I had was gone. I hated myself and wanted nothing to do with this so called "loving Creator" if He couldn't even make my life work. I began to view the bible as little more than fairy tales, for that's what they felt like to me.
Just before my sixteenth birthday, I followed my mom to a Christian bookstore where the cover of a book grabbed my attention. It's dark, abstract cover appealed to the taste for dark forms of art I had begun to discover. Oddly enough, I have never since seen the book with that specific cover. The cover I always see now is of the surface of an emerald green lake. If this was the cover I had seen on the shelf, I would not have looked at it. But that is not the case. God put something before me that would grab my limited attention and coax me to look farther.Turning the book over and reading the back, I was intrigued. I didn't, however, buy the book. Not then at least. I went to the library and found it there, where it had the familiar bright green cover I've come to know.

At first, I didn't see it for the allegory is was. It wasn't until halfway through the second book did I see it. God spoke to me through the images and stories and lives of these characters. He showed me it's connections to the gospel I had grown up hearing, and recently dismissed. He made it feel real again.If this man could be so influenced by God to write something this impacting, then God must be real!

This is not to say that I hold this man or his novels on the same or similar level that I hold Jesus and his gospel, but his obedience did make an impact on me. That impact lit my desire to search for God and who he is again, because for once I did feel loved.
Even though in that moment, I had not put all of this into a straight thought as I do here, I did realize the awesomeness of a God who can use something as small as a man's imperfect story to change the life of someone that man has never met.

This is but one story of obedience. It is I, now, who take up that same calling. Whether my books get published and impact others or not is not in my hands.
 It's in His.
All I must do is write.

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