W henever I head to the piano to capture what I hear, I have to be so careful. Any little misstep could easily crush it. Even if I play it almost perfectly, one wrong note in the melody or harmony can make it slip away.
A similar thing happens in the word work. The best times are when it comes more as something to preserve than to create. It isn’t easy to pin just the right words down, though thankfully it doesn’t seem quite as fragile. But I do have to pay attention not to write too quickly–or too slowly.
Yet most the time, the main difficulty is finding inspiration. The world seems full of yelling people doing important things. And it can increasingly seem there’s nothing for me to write about in the hubbub.
Conditioned, trained to respect action–to be productive and practice, I want desperately to act. I’m ambitious and I want to say something new, something good, something important.
Yet, as I read earlier, “…the one great need [is] not…the question whether we are of any use, but to face Him.” – Oswald Chambers
Isn’t this the one thing I need to do, to face the One who continually calls me here? And isn’t this the place I continually meet him? Can’t I relax knowing I’ll never lose or miss out if I forget striving for the right inspiration or to be productive and simply wait on God?
I know this simpler answer is the right answer to my story. The main struggle every hero faces in the end isn’t primarily the villain, but himself. The external antagonist only prepares you to face the real internal battle.
I love that saying from Teddy Roosevelt: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
I can lose my writing focus so easily. Though I know I received the call and there’s nothing I must do but this job, it’s still a challenge. I often feel crushed by the pressure–to stand out, to write well, to say just the right thing just the right way. What matters is between me and Him, not expressing something profound or launching into the public space. My job is settling back and waiting, preparing, and stilling myself to be content with whatever the call means and accept this as the practice.
I do remember that the only people who shout about the sun rising tomorrow are those who don’t quite believe it themselves yet.
It’s a loud, self-important world of constant need and demands. In the ever-increasing rush, we don’t need more words. We need more people who will be quiet and faithful.
We need writers who will lead us back.
“Whenever a story is well told, the gospel is served.” –Eugene Peterson
We need writers who will help us escape the noisy voices crowding around, especially those who seem to love using their outside voices when in God’s house. We need listeners, those desperate to be reminded of God’s inside voice.
Can I just settle back in my chair, ready myself now? Not to create, but to preserve? To pre-serve the world around me, isn’t this the necessary preparation? In finding the right words to write, I know this practice comes first and foremost. If our entire culture seems to have lost its ability to sit still, then it’s all the more important that we take this time first to preserve that forgotten place, so we can invite others to do it too.
Maybe this is why it starts as a call. Because it will always first require listening.
And maybe this is the only way to living the work.
“Art consists of limitation….art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.” –Gilbert K. Chesterton
Is it time we drew the line?
For the higher purpose of your deliberately quiet, daily practice,