Friday, November 25, 2016

thoughts on writing as one being re-made




I heard a writer, speaking of the transition from being a writer who wrote for herself to one who was read by many people, say that she understood the experience of putting her thoughts and heart in words for people to read as being a living sacrifice. I know the passage of scripture where that phrase - living sacrifice - is mentioned. It is one that's been popularized by Christian culture, put on t-shirts and greeting cards and wall hangings. And yet when she said that, it was like I understood in a new way what the words mean. What she meant is that her writing is a way she gives her life back to God. It feels like sacrifice - letting go, surrender, maybe even being burned. A living sacrifice, though, isn't burned up to ashes but has a heart that still beats, limbs that move and eyes that continue to see. It is in the living, in the writing, in the figuring things out and then allowing my mind and heart to be re-made, that I sacrifice. That I live as one given over to another.

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We don't need to make the gospel new; the gospel makes us new.
I heard this a few months ago and thought, yes. There are so many Christian books out there that try to give a new spin to the gospel. A catchy phrase and a trendy cover design, a format that reflects the kind of thing that people read now. I read a lot of these when I was in high school and working at a Christian bookstore, but at some point realized the authors weren't able to tell me anything new. I've come back to these kinds of books now, curious about what's being written and how my writing fits (or doesn't) and find that, once again, a lot of the same kinds of things are being said over and over again, and yet not much is really being said.

But then there are times when I hear a word and, even though it's a word I've heard many times before, it's like new, because it's making me new. How is it that the Word that was written so many centuries ago is like new each time I come to it? It must be something of the life of God in it, is all I can conclude, the same life that makes the day new, gives mercies that are new, renews me from the inside to re-make my heart, my sight, my love.

I wonder, then, how being made new then drives me to speak or write the gospel in a way that does, indeed, make it new for others. This is how it starts: a seed of a word that grows and makes a shady place for others to find rest for their souls, makes branches that birds can find a home in. The kind of work that lays foundations for many generations and brings peace to places that have been ruined.

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So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. Fill your stomach with this, he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.  
- Ezekiel 3:2-3

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(photo: flowers and concrete, griffith park, los angeles)

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