L ast Monday, after I wrote briefly about Jesus’ metaphor about unity with him–the vine and the branches–Sheri and I went to a nearby graveyard.
I’d driven by it for years but never stopped. Until this time.
From the look of the trees, I knew the dates on the stones would be very old. But I also sensed there was much more to the picture, just like I figured there was more to the metaphor of connection and what it means for higher purpose writers.
If you’ve never seen something like this, I want you to look more closely. It might change how you approach your writing this week.
When I think of being grafted into God, I imagine it’s hard to tell where he ends and I begin, like a reflection in a mirror:
“I want you to know the delight I experience,
to find ultimate satisfaction…
Love others [with the same love] as I have loved you.
There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends…
You did not choose Me. I chose you,
and I orchestrated all of this so that you would be sent out
and bear great and perpetual fruit…”
– John 15
It sounds like a cosmic set up–and it’s about delight and ultimate satisfaction. Every time this love is given and received, it gives back and can now be received by someone else, repeating and repeating forever.
Like a mirror image.
Could writing be a way to stay connected to God, and like in a mirror, see his image reflected in us?
“Anyone who listens to [this] but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
– James 1
When we don’t stay connected, we become fugitives, hiding from life and ourselves and from our own freedom. We’ll soon be gone and we’ll miss the life he’s waited so long to reveal to us.
We can not selectively numb, as Brene Brown says, and we can’t run from who we are and live.
We’ll be gone soon too. And will we have learned this secret to living before we are?
All we have to do to complete this circle of love is to stay.
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
– John 8
Staying means remaining in him. It means abiding. It means listening and get this: it means seeing ourselves as we truly are by looking at our image…
“Father, fuse Our collective glory and bring Us together…I am now making an appeal to You on their behalf. This request is not for the entire world; it is for those whom You have given to Me because they are Yours…
Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us…All the glory You have given to Me, I pass on to them. May that glory unify them and make them one as We are one, I in them and You in Me…”
– John 17
As His writers, when we stay connected, face our mirror and see him in there, deeper than our face or our eyes, in our very cells, we can see ourselves and tell that story, the story of how he got there. The secret to really living is to know in these intricate, wonderful cells that He chose us. And that all we have and are and are becoming comes from him.
And maybe to stay means simply this: to trust his process, trust the pruning he’s using to produce more life-giving fruit, and trust that it’s always, always to his glory, and that his glory is always, always for our good.
Then we must write it. Because the world needs to see that truth.
“…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen…”
– Romans 1
When I stay connected to him, the love I receive is returned and it spreads on and on in infinite creative inspiration….
The only requirement is to remain in him. To abide. To stay connected and face the mirror.
I find the oldest grave. 1892.
Look deeper, I think.
Hermann Hollings was 19. His family was from Germany. They probably saw Oregon become a state. He may have died laying the first railroads.
I give him my attention for a few minutes and I’ve connected with a story I didn’t know before. If I gave God my attention every day would he not show me my story?
We walk back to the car under the trees and I’m wondering if Hermann knows how his story has helped mine. God is the connector of all things. He will help us to share our stories–willingly, honestly, painstakingly.
We leave the graveyard under a fading sunset, but the story remains to connect me. I remain there for days and continue to see a man in the mirror who’s writing–simply grateful to give a bit of his life for a friend.