Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why I Write

Two Sundays ago, Charly asked us to think about the times when we feel distant from God and what helps us to feel close to Him again. I said that when I have constant headaches it's easy for me to feel that life is dark, for insignificant things to seem bigger than they really are, to feel like I've fallen into a hole that I can't get out of. What helps me is to read other people's stories who have gone through suffering and have clung tightly to God, to know how God has blessed them in the midst of their pain, and so to have hope that this same God is “on my side” too and working out His eternal and good purposes on those dark days, when it can be so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

That is why I love to read, and it's what motivates me to write. Maybe God could use me to help other hurting/questioning/doubting people to turn to God on their dark days.

If in your darkest hour...you know you must write...then spend your life in devotion to that art.” Steve Reifenberg, one of CJ's professors and mentors at Notre Dame, shared this quote from German poet Rainer Maria Rilke in his book Santiago's Children.

Henri Nouwen quoted Carl Rogers in The Wounded Healer: “I have found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to believe that what is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others.”

In her book Breaking Free, Beth Moore quoted Mrs. Charles E. Cowman from her devotional Streams in the Desert:

“Life is a steep climb, and it does the heart good
to have somebody “call back” and cheerily beckon us on up the high hill.
We are all climbers together, and we must help one another.
The mountain climbing is serious business, but glorious.
It takes strength and steady step to find the summits.
The outlook widens with the altitude.
If anyone among us has found anything worthwhile, we ought to “call back.”
If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back--
'Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance Faith's light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.
Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back and say He kept you when the forest's roots were torn;
That, when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill.
He bore you up and held you where the air was very still.
Oh, friend, call back and tell me for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.
But if you say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you'll say He saw you through the night's sin-darkened sky—
If you have gone a little way ahead, oh, friend, call back--
'Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.”

I recently read Kara Tippett's The Hardest Peace, and encourage you to download her book on kindle if you haven't read it already (now just $2.99). She beautifully shares her inspirational story of walking courageously through cancer. You can follow her on her blog as well.

She writes: “I enter the scary and hard looking for grace, expecting grace, with face lifted, walking in love unimaginable.”

“I was able to turn over the authorship of my story to the One who knew how to best write my life. I could trust again, knowing the story wasn't promised to be easy, but I was no longer silent in it. I was a beautifully redeemed daughter of the King. I would walk in grace...The grace of Jesus allows us to look honestly at out lives, not lock our stories into a place of shame. When I open wide my hands to the truth of my life and allow grace and forgiveness to seep into the pain of my story, I can lift my face, walk in grace and forgiveness, and not dwell on the bitter moments that hurt so desperately. It never discounts the pain. But the redemption of my hard yesterdays gives me a softened heart to walk in my tomorrows.”

“If the hardest is asked of us, we believe the grace will be there.”

Kara's courage in her fierce battle with ongoing cancer has helped to renew my courage to keep pressing on, to make the most of the moments that God has given me, to not be consumed by the darkness, but to keep looking for the light. It is always there; sometimes it is just harder to see.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also though Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Let us climb the stony track of the mountain path, holding hands with suffering and with each other. May God's comfort--through Jesus--overflow out of our lives so that we can help, comfort, encourage, and support one another on our individual journeys through trials and pain.

Who has “called back” to you and helped to strengthen your steps when“Faith's light was dim” and your “oil was low”?

When you feel distant from God, what helps you to experience His nearness again?

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