This is a perfect day for laying down an idol. It’s not a hurricane here in Kodiak. It’s only blowing 45 mph for the next 2-3 days, with 5 inches of rain forecast, most of it hurling sideways today. It’s nasty, but normal-nasty, and it suits my mood entirely. I’m giving it up. Not chocolate or sugar, though I should definitely give those up too. This is something more. Something I thought I couldn’t live without. Ever.
But first, I threw myself a party! Celebrating the release of Crossing the Waters, because it was my tenth book. (Whew!) Here's a 5 minutes intro to the book---how I wrote it, why . ..
It was Sunday night, the night of the debate.
At exactly the same hour, while Clinton and Trump were hurling insults, I was reading to a house full of friends the chapter when Jesus shows up on the beach and forgives Peter. In that same hour, While the two (un)presidential candidates are calling each other "evil," threatening jail, interrupting and spewing hostility, we see 12 men sitting around a fire eating bread and roasted fish. We hear Peter forgiven of his betrayals. His lies. Jesus does not stop there. Peter and all the men, despite their weakness, their very small human faith, are commissioned to take this great news gospel into the entire world. To bring words of hope and restoration and peace-with-God to all men and women. What sweet sweet words of healing and truth they are to speak. Words that bring life. And the world will be changed because of it. I have been changed because of it.
I will never stop loving words, especially words of redemption, but maybe I am done with books? For the first time in my life I am ready to say this. The unthinkable. I am ready to lay down the writing of books, because perhaps it is my idol? The thing I worship. The thing I think I can’t be without, do without. The thing that makes me who I am . . . .
Right now, I am supposed to be outlining my next book. Just as I rise each morning to race to complete all my daily writing assignments, book endorsements and radio interviews for Crossing the Waters, I have been asked repeatedly (but kindly) to devise my next book, to turn in the title and outline. Now. To begin again. (And---I have another book half-written right now being shopped around to publishers.)
This is what is required of writers. If we wait too long between books, readers will forget us and no one will want our books. We’ll be obsolete, invisible. We’ll disappear. Everyone Who Knows tells us this.
And that’s okay. Finally, I can say this. Right now I see so clearly, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Jesus was so present with me through the writing of Crossing. But I have nothing to say without hearing from God. I have no words apart from Him. I have nothing to give you of my own. I am bankrupt, empty, dry, hollow, silent without Him.
So I wait.
And maybe words will be given, and maybe words will be withheld.
Maybe I’ve written my last book.
I do not know.
One thing I know. That commission that Jesus gave to Peter, to all those men around that fire—that commission to “feed my sheep.” To “take care of my lambs”---that was to us as well. The apostle Paul tells us again, in even clearer language what we’re here on this earth for, what our lives are about:
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace.”
This is my job, my lifelong task---and yours: “the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
It is our joy to do this, but I don’t know what form this will take for me next.
Maybe you don’t know either.
Shall we seek the Lord together? Shall we open our hands and let go of the things we are grasping onto so tightly, as if they will save us? Even our talents, our gifts, our desires, even when used rightly for the kingdom, have we placed our trust in THOSE gifts rather than the giver of the gift?
I need to make sure.
Maybe I need to let go for a little while.
Maybe something new is coming.
Maybe we need a Sabbath rest.
Maybe we need time around the fire with Jesus: Do you love me?
That’s where I’ll be.
Shall we pray for one another?