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Monday, April 22, 2013

Writing and the Body of Christ

This past week I watched a documentary about a German theologian who lived and died during Hitler's reign. He came from a family that barely attended service, so he started out not thinking church was very important. But he ended up speaking about Christ's body--how the church as a whole is likened to His flesh. The exerpt from one of his writings went through me as I realized that just by being so full of my own ideals and dislike of the modern church, I had been discounting the body of Christ as it exists as a whole--not one church, but the entire body of Christians throughout the world, and possibly in outer space--I'm not convinced there is no life on other planets--just saying. But the truth is, there's a part of the body I (and you too) am supposed to be. Not just contribute to like adding a tattoo. But an actual arm or leg or brain cell. And I started thinking of myself, of course.

Writers hold our talent as a sacred thing. I suspect in much the same way artists, filmmakers, and musicians do. We simply want to use what we have for a greater cause. Whether in fiction or nonfiction. Sometimes that greater cause is entertainment, sometimes a truth as we know it, anarchy :) But the long and short of it is that our gifts are given for a higher purpose. One that we MUST fulfill or something inside dies. and this is true, not only for Christians, but all weavers of words. And as I watched that documentary and made the connection that I'm a valued (by God) part of the important work of Christ through the body on earth, it made me spend the whole day just thinking. Praying. Asking God to show me the best use of the part of the body I'm to make up. I mean lets face it, a hand can do good things like stroke a baby's head and offer comfort, or it can squeeze into a fist and punch someone in the face. We have to learn not only what part of Christ's body we make up, but also to use it effectively for HIS purposes on earth--or Mars.

Miss Linda writes long, beautiful emails that come from her years as a Jesus Follower. Wisdom, understanding of God, and truth that runs so deep in her heart she refuses to be deterred in any way from her belief that God is who he says he is, will do what he says he'll do and we better get our behinds in line with His ways. Sometimes I read things I disagree with and really, really just want to agree because her writing is so beautiful, and she's the only person in the world whose approval I care anything about. I just want to read her words all day and then go over to her house and move in and wash all her dishes and mop her floors while she sits with her feet up and talks to me about Jesus. In short, her writing is powerful, beautiful, and a gift that comes deep, deep from inside of her. I feel the same way when I read a novel by Angela Hunt. I just want to bottle the gift and drink it. These women are effective, useful parts of the body.

I've been thinking a lot about my wrting this past week as I start the process of a new book and also as I've gotten back to a blogging schedule.

I've been thinking of the wasted writing I've done this past year. The hours spent writing things for others that have been tossed aside as useless as though my gift and time are meaningless. I feel like my mom's legs, atrophied by months of disuse. A body part doing no one any good. It hurts and it makes me sad. But then, I think about the times I haven't valued the gifts inside of others either. Criticizing (maybe only inside, but still...) a missed pitch, a painting I thought was not very good, misspelled or misused words on the screen at church, someone else's writing.

I had a conversation with my pastor friend, this week about starting a monthly writers group in our town. He mentioned a poetry group that meets at the library. My response? "Poetry group: Kill me now."

This may come as a surprise to my nonwriting friends, but not all writers are moved deep in our souls by poetry. I gag on most of it. But for the poet, it's deep calling to deep. God's handiwork inside put onto the page in beautiful, rythmic tones. And as I thought about our conversation later, I remembered that my pastor friend has sent me poems he is writing to be put into his novel. I gave myself an slap on the head. Seriously? I diminished one of his loves the very same way my efforts have been diminished this past year. I'm such a slug sometimes.

And honestly, he wrote and framed a poem that he gave me for Christmas that I love and have hanging on my wall. And he has the same one hanging on his office wall. And now I sort of wonder how many other people have that framed poem on their walls. :)

The fact is, when we focus only on the parts of the body WE think are important, we cause a cut deep enough to bleed the soul.

A friend posted this poem to a writers group this past weekend. I found it so moving and beautiful, in a way poetry never has touched me before. Which is why I started thinking about my pastor friend and the whole poetry thing and also why I slapped myself in the head and wondered how many people he gave that poem to for Christmas.

I made a little adjustment inside, determined to value every gift in the body.

A Little Gift
by John Milton Edwards

A little gift I have of words,
A little talent, Lord, is all,
And yet be mine the faith that girds
A humble heart for duty's call.

Where Genius soars to distant skies
And plumes herself in proud acclaim,
O Thou, let plodding talent prize
The modest goal, the lesser fame.

Let this suffice, make this my code,
As I go forward day by day,
To cheer one heart upon life's road,
To ease one burden by the way.

I would not scale the mountain peak,
But I would have the strength of ten
To labor for the poor and weak,
And win my way to hearts of men.

A little gift Thou gavest me,
A little talent, Lord, is all,
Yet humble as my art may be
I hold it waiting for Thy call.

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