In June, I wrote the first of my intended three-part reflection related to what I learned through my experience serving at “Ignite Camp” in the Czech Republic this past May. That post discussed my rekindled understanding of how important it is for me to regularly have times of quiet, rest, and intentional “aloneness” with God–how this time of refocusing impacts all aspects of my life. I discussed something God has been teaching me in many contexts this summer–that who I am is more important than what I do. It is from who I am that all that I do flows out.
This post, then, will serve as a sequel of sorts to this same topic–moving “further up and further in” into the topic of “igniting” in the truth of Christ and who I am in Him–and with Him. Summer is a wonderful time for reflection, I have found–especially for those (such as I) who live and work according to the academic calendar. Thus, I have decided to expand the “Ignite Series” to be about the entire summer, not simply the Czech Republic experiences. So, this post contains some continued reflective summer musings–meant both to capture what I have learned within this electronic journal of sorts, and also to share thoughts that might potentially be helpful to others.
In the past few months, I have begun to hear from God in more direct and clear ways than I had in the whole year previous. This is not to say that God was not speaking to me during the past year–it simply shows that it is often hard to hear still small voices when your life is too full of noise. Those quiet, restful times matter. Quiet times with God matter enormously. It is difficult to live lives of purpose and meaning when we are not allowing ourselves to be continually refueled and reshaped by the Life-giver. One of the things God has made very clear to me this past month, is that I am to write. Not just write in the ways I have been–academically and reflectively–but also to write, specifically, fiction. There were of course multiple times where I protested–saying “this probably isn’t God” and “I don’t have time to write fiction”. I had to get through these protests and hear the same call many times in many ways before actually accepting it; but, the more I sought God, the more I realized that it is meant to happen. I have very clear direction–at least in the bare-bones skeleton of a framework for a story–and, I am called to write it. Starting now.
A number of things happened when I accepted this calling. First, I found that I could not write the story on my own. Literally. Every time I sat down to write, I could not find the words. Every time I considered where the story was supposed to go, I could not find inspiration. However, whenever I refocus my heart–and ask God intentionally and simply to “help”–He has faithfully done so, and He writes through me. I have recognized this summer the seemingly contradictory truths that 1) I cannot write fiction and 2) that God can through me. For me, personally, this is one of the biggest practical ways for me to visibly see my own weakness as opposed to God’s strength–to see the difference of living in my own strength, or letting God work through me. I still don’t know where exactly this story is going, or what its full purpose is–but, I am discovering the story one step at a time, along with the great Storyteller. I have a long way to go; but, He is revealing it to me piece by piece, as I seek Him and choose to write with Him.
I have also found that even when I do acknowledge my need for Christ to work through me, there is still significant “resistance” to my writing–to use the term described in The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This shows up in more than just the typical writer’s block–it is, I believe, a spiritual sort of resistance. I have found that the more strong my feelings are in regards to my calling to write the story God has given me, the more powerful that resisting force becomes that tries to prevent it from happening. I may set aside an entire day simply to write, but then something at my home breaks and I need to fix it; I have a sudden new assignment that I must complete immediately; a friend needs help. Now, of course, those are all good things to spend time on, and I want to be willing to set aside my writing to attend to them–especially when an opportunity arises to talk to or help a friend. But, I also am recognizing that there is a very real fight happening in the background; that just as God is encouraging me to write this story, the Enemy also does not want me to write it.
You might say that I have been “reawakened” to two things, then, over the past month or so: 1) that God desires to co-create with me, and that I cannot create apart from Him; and 2) that the Enemy desires to stop this at all costs, as it inevitably brings me closer to Christ and closer to finding my true identity in Him (a never-ending process, at least until Christ returns to make all things new). Perhaps my storytelling has no other perhaps than that; but, even if that is all that writing this story achieves, I consider it more than worth my time.
This dual truth–of God’s desire for co-creation and of the Enemy’s desire to prevent it–is not relegated, of course, to my writing life–it is true in every area. God wants me to experience life not apart from Him, but with Him. I recently read the book The Story of With by Allen Arnold, and it is one of the most powerful books I’ve read in a long time. The book demonstrates these truths–through both story and exposition–that our identities are only found in Christ; and thus, we will only find those identities when we fully pursue the callings that He himself (our Creator) has given us. God has a very specific path in mind for each of us–we are made with a purpose. We have the choice, however, to either follow His way–and thus have the opportunity to co-create our life stories with Him–or to follow our own narratives. We can, truly, choose our own adventure. Yet, only one path is life-giving–only one will bring us Joy. Fulfillment comes when a thing is working according to its purpose; which, in our case, is to follow God’s story for our lives–accepting His love, dying to ourselves, and loving both Him and our neighbor through the Holy Spirit that is within us. This involves a continual process of seeking God, and thus discovering how He is specifically and uniquely calling us to fulfill that greatest commandment–while also being empowered by Him to do so.
Thus, our life is meant to be for Him, with Him, and through Him. He is the only one who can “wake us up” to see clearly–to see Truth.