I was going to post about the tsunami happening in our life right now, but I have not yet processed enough (or cried enough?) to share. Writing about it is cathartic, though, so stay tuned.
Instead I will once again recycle some writing. The following won 2nd place in the Themed Essay category of Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship 2014 Fall Contest. It’s about Scripture and writing, and is a little long, but I think you’ll enjoy the read. If you do, please like, comment, or share, all of which are very encouraging.
Psalm 45:1 (NLT)
Beautiful words stir my heart.
I will recite a lovely poem about the king,
for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.
The writer’s pen drops letters onto the paper. Words begin to trickle across the line, gathering into a stream of sentences. Paragraphs gain inspirational strength to tumble full force from page to page. A surging tide breaks into frothy joy as words flow. The scribe is euphoric with the vigor of creating as the muse finally sits complete in a clear pool on white-sand sheets.
The writer of Psalm 45 certainly knew the joy of inspired writing. He was so excited, verse one says, that it stirred his heart so he eagerly shared his poetry about the King. As writers, we sometimes struggle to begin our work with excitement. Some days it is difficult to get the creative flow to drip onto the page. Yet when the ink gushes and the waterfall of words roars, we cannot keep the joy to ourselves.
This Psalmist imparts to writers the secret of how to access deep pools of joy as we write. As we wade back upstream from the final resting place of the shore back to the source, we too can learn to overflow with good writing.
Psalm 45:1 (NASB)
My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer
We are writers who want to be joyful writers, so we need to know who we are. We need to be confident in our calling as writers. This means we not only think of ourselves as writers, but we act as writers in that confidence. Writers write. We do not just think about writing, or daydream about the story we would like to write, or gripe about not having occasion to write. We carve out time to write just as water will find the path from the mountain’s slope to the sea.
When writers do not pick up a pen or sit at a computer to pour out words, a tension builds. Restlessness begins to permeate life until we can no longer deny the force of the stream that needs to flow. Writers do not need to write for publication – many write only for their own sanity – but we do need to write. Being a wordsmith is part of who God created us to be.
a ready writer
Perhaps being ready means grabbing pieces of napkin or post-it notes to jot down fleeting thoughts sprinkled through our day. This may mean simply gathering pens and papers or purchasing that cool word processor program that color-codes your ideas. Collecting ideas is part of writing, but being ready to write is more than gathering bits and pieces of flotsam as we travel along life’s stream. Being ready to write is more about preparedness than whim, about planned purpose and not simply gathering of thought.
We may find it more difficult to write when we have set aside the time or to write to meet a deadline than when we are casually throwing descriptive stones into the tide, so readiness is essential. The ready writer does not ignore God’s call, whether inspiration springs up like a geyser or we feel like a stagnant swamp.
Being ready is an attitude. We must know the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of writing. Who we are – writers; what we do – we write; when we write – planned moments, anytime we can, or when we can no longer not write; where we write -everywhere we can; why we write – it is our God-given nature and calling; how we write – to honor our King. Gather your ink and paper, but also take time to ready your mind and soul to write.
the pen of a ready writer
The pen of a ready writer is a powerful sword. Swords provide a clear a path through the jungles of life, procure firewood and food for daily survival, or protect from the dangers of an enemy. With our swords, we slay dragons in a fairy tale, shave away years to reveal a memory, or whittle through research to find truth amid brambles.
Often we are content to know our sword is by our side, but not wielding it regularly causes the sharp edge to become rusty and heavy in our hand. To keep our blade shining and our wit sharp we need to hone our talent with daily practice. Grammar and sentence structure are essential skills. We need to polish our words, learn our craft, and exercise our creativity.
God’s Word is a sword, a mighty weapon. Words that drip from our pen can also be powerful. Christian writers, we must practice and perfect our writing to bring glory to God.
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer
Writers generally like the solitary task of writing. Many of us are perhaps even introverted, so while we like to write, we can get flustered when asked to read our writing, or give an interview, or speak to a group of people. Writing may be God’s work for us, yet writing is only half the work God asks us to do when we hear this call.
Our primary calling as Christians is to share the Good News. As we are inspired, knowing our inspiration comes from God even if we are not writing specifically Christian articles, we can best share the Good News with face-to-face contact. Yes, isolated writers must also become prepared to meet people, ready to speak as well as write. Our mission field may include a librarian as we research, a reporter wishing to do an interview, other writers as we share and teach one another, editors who accept our submissions, and the readers with whom we share our work. Our behaviour is a witness, as well as our words.
At some point, every writer needs to read their work aloud for an audience, explain the heart of the writing, or give an interview about their work. However, we need not fear. The more we write, crafting our words to be clear on paper, the more we are also learning to articulate well, using proper grammar and understanding to state a complete thought without over-spill.
As Christian writers, we are able to speak effectively. There is great comfort in knowing God provides help for those of us with speech impediments, or who are not naturally eloquent, or when we panic as Moses did when God gave him a speaking engagement. Isaiah 32 tells of a time when the King will reign and “… the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.” For believing writers, the promise of this passage is timely and true today as our King, Christ Jesus, reigns in our lives.
I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer
When we find writing difficult, we can calm our turbulent thoughts by focusing on the source of our inspiration. Writers often use free-flow brainstorming exercises to move from the logical thinking side of our brain to the artistic side.
As Christian writers, we have an even more powerful way to knock out the dam that blocks our creativity. We can write directly to our inspiration-giver. We can take a few moments to write a prayer to God. Whether our prayers meander as streams of thanksgiving and praise, or wildly crash as waves of emotional angst, we can lay them out on the page, placing them at God’s feet. Prayer writing lets us break free of the situational banks confining our life, and allows God’s grace-filled creativity to flow into and through us.
Filtering our words through prayer also keeps our tongue from stumbling and inspires us as we wield our pen-sword.
My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer
Whether we write for a Christian audience, a secular audience, or for only ourselves, God’s creative nature stirs in us when we understand we are writers, and we are ready to answer God’s call to use our writing. We find inspiration in both the tiny ripples of a small puddle and in the tsunami crashing over us. The beauty of God’s grace is that He is able to redeem all circumstances for His glory, so it is all good! Like moving water can be used to generate power, using our words to honor our King is electrifying. We cannot help but rush to share our joy.
To experience God’s joy in your writing, open the floodgates and let the waterfall of words roar.
Psalm 45:1 (MSG)
My heart bursts its banks,
spilling beauty and goodness.
I pour it out in a poem to the king,
shaping the river into words.