Monday, July 18, 2005

marker stone - part 1

As has become my custom on Mondays, I’m going to do another of Nancy’s weekly Sabbath Journal prompts.

This week the prompt was: From the Genesis passage (28:10-19a): Jacob said, "Surely the LORD is in this place." Have you ever felt an awareness that God was present in the place where you were?

In response to this, I’m going to relate something that happened in July of 2002. I actually journaled about it then, and wrote emails to a fellow writer-friend about it. I saved those notes, and will quote from them. (And sorry, this is waaaay too long for a blog post, so long, in fact, that it will be two long posts!)


Email to Helen, a writing friend, July 27, 2002...

[...] I personally am at a crossroads. Here is the story of how I got to that place.

This spring has been difficult writing-wise. I haven’t sold much and find myself unfocused. Some of the markets to which I’ve sold many pieces no longer appeal to me...I feel like I need to stretch. I queried Guideposts for Kinds Online, got the go-ahead to write an article for them, did and haven’t heard back for three months (I know I need to follow up on its fate). I researched and wrote a two-piece article on John Bunyan for Guide, which the editor liked, but no payment for it yet. The longer historical fiction project just became too burdensome to research and the binder with my notes is sitting on the shelf, untouched for many weeks. It all feels like such slogging, like swimming through neck-deep mud. Should an inspired thing be so hard?

I have prayed and asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit power and inspiration. But nothing changes. I start a project then feel, ‘that’s not it, and file it away to start another, which meets the same fate.

Last week we had a special speaker in our church, an Australian itinerant pastor named Fergus MacIntyre. (We attend a Pentecostal church. The story of how we got there from the Mennonite churches of our childhoods via the Alliance Church is a tale in itself.) The last meeting – Wednesday – was especially interesting. Mr. MacIntyre has a prophetic gift and during much of that last sermon he reminded me of Jeremiah the weeping prophet. Helen, he wept for a large part of his sermon as he talked about the church and how we have our own goals, agendas and ministries but fail to love Jesus and love people.

Mr. MacIntyre’s ministry is also characterized by how when he prays for people, they fall under the power of God (sometimes called ‘slain in the Spirit’ – Helen, this will probably sound weird to you... I would have thought the same a few years ago, but my study of the Bible on how God worked in the Old and New Testaments and the results in powerful changed lives has opened me up to it).

After the meeting, he offered to pray for as many as wanted, that would God would anoint our lives in a new way. Hundreds lined up in the hallway around the sanctuary (which is a circle) and as he went by and prayed, each one fell to the floor. Then he came to me. When he prayed for me (twice) I felt nothing and stayed standing. He went on to Ernie, my husband, who crumpled – he said it felt like he was a deck of cards; he couldn’t have stayed standing if he tried.

I went home from that meeting devastated. I felt confused, hurt and snubbed by God.

Yesterday morning in my quiet time, I again asked God, "Why didn’t Your power fall on me like it did on everyone else?" This is what I heard back: "I will not anoint what is not of me."

Immediately I thought of MY writing career...for that is basically how I think of it. It’s MY thing. I do write FOR God, but woe betide anyone who messes with MY writing time etc. etc.

And so this is the crossroads I’m at. I feel that I need to give everything related to writing to God. I need to relinquish it completely – my ambitions, personal goals, any kind of agenda – realizing that if I never send anything away for publication again, that’s okay. Helen, this feels like death.

We bought a CD (Restore Us) last weekend (put out by Norm Strauss, a B. C. worship leader, active in the Vineyard and other charismatic churches). A song on it expresses exactly how I feel and the place I’m at. I’ll quote the lyrics below (it is, of course, copyrighted – Norm Strauss 2001):


You and Me Alone

Take all I have and all I have gained
Lay me bare to the bone
Shake the foundations and see what remains
It’s just You and me alone
Until it’s just You and me alone.

Tear down the borders that I have built
Crush the walls, stone by stone
Destroy my resistance that I hold so strong
It’s just You and me alone
Until it’s just You and me alone.

Lay me down, let this place be an altar
Lay me down, let this death be complete
Lay me down, let this song be a marker stone
That others can easily see.
Lay me down, like a drink that is poured out
Lay me down, like a seed that must die
Lay me down, so I can rise in the morning
While the grave clothes fall down at my feet.

--Norm Straus c. 2001

What do you think? Am I crazy? It’s just that when I ask myself, "What really matters?" it’s His ‘Well done’ when I appear before Him someday. If what I’m engaged in won’t lead to that, then how can I help but relinquish it? For what? I’ll leave that with Him.

[...] Thanks for writing this morning. I think that was a God-thing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts,

Love, Violet


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