Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Making it look effortless - Gyapong
We've all heard versions of the proverbial story about the Christian woman or man who gushes out a manuscript on coffee stained three-hole binder paper, and through providential circumstances, the novel or true life story gets published and ends up being a best seller.
"It is was all God," they say, teary-eyed. "I give Him all the glory."
Those of us who have spent years honing our craft, going through many rewrites, the pain of rejection, the sometimes brutal critiquing process, and more rewrites say, huh?
And the less gracious among us might mutter to ourselves, well, if God wrote that, don't you think He'd do a better job?
Which is not to say, however, that God might not be totally behind some of these publishing phenomena and use them to bear fruit for the Kingdom. The book that brought me to Christ was a simple testimony by an Italian American man about the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of his Momma and their family. Nothing grand or eloquent about it. In fact, sometimes I wish I could say it was C.S. Lewis who brought me to Christ. There's more "intellectual cachet" in that! But God uses the simple things to confound the "wise," right?
Frank Foglio's book Hey! God is still in print and, I imagine, still touching lives for Jesus. I thank God that he wrote the book and that someone published it and someone cared enough to give it to a drug dealer, who left it lying around for me to find when I was left alone on a bad drug trip.
So, what do we do, those of us who have to work really hard and wonder whether God is in our work, too? Whether our lack of worldly success is a sign of God's lack of favor?
Yet I look around me and many of the people who I firmly know in my spirit are sacrificially following God are laboring in obscurity and they seldom know when or how God is going to finance their ministry, whether it involves writing or the arts or other God-inspired ventures. But when I am around them, I sense the sweet fragrance of Christ. I have no doubt God is in them, inspiring them, guiding them, despite their lack of renown or worldly success.
I would encourage them to keep on keeping on, to continue their work.
Another thing for us writers to remember when we look at some beautiful writing that seems to flow so easily on the page. Sometimes, something that looks effortless and easy is the product of hours of rewriting.
Yesterday I had a conversation with an award winning journalist who writes for the local daily. She and I covered the same event and her story was so good, and seemingly turned around so quickly, I wondered how she did it. She writes beautifully.
Well, turns out she had started working on this story days in advance, and had spent she said 12 hours on it prior to the event, so that once she got there she only had a few details to add.
We both confessed that as we grow as writers we find it gets harder, not easier, maybe because our standards are higher.
My message today is this: put God first. Give over your writing to Him and everything else in your life. If He blesses you with the publication of a coffee-stained, hand-written first draft on your first try, then praise Him and may your work bear much fruit for the Kingdom. For those of us who have to work hard, who have to rewrite, let us find God in the work, in the joy of beautiful craftmanship, as an offering to Him. The suffering and rejection we experience is all part of our character-building so that we can become vessels for Him. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and not worry about what He's doing with other writers, only whether our daily offering of work is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
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