Yep. This is me. I don’t know if you can really see my kitten very well, but I assure you she’s adorable.
Today is an epic day.
Whenever I crack the spine of a new journal to begin documenting my life, I feel as though I should make an introduction of some sort. Now, I know it doesn’t make logical sense: to introduce yourself to a bundle of paper. And yet it has been made quite clear to me (by numerous amounts of experiences and opinions of other people) that I am far from a logical person by nature and design.
I feel a sense of attachment to my journals. I do spend a great deal of time with each of them, and I pour out much of my heart and brain into them. I almost feel as thought my notebooks turn into… horcruxes. (any Potter fans out there?)– as if a piece of my own self resides within the pages.
I do realize that this notion is quite absurd. My identity rests in nothing of this world, not even language. However, language can be used to express what my identity does rest in, and so language and words and writing… well they are important.
And not just to me.
Words are important to God as well.
First of all, I just have a feeling that God wants me to be able to use words to tell you that my real identity rests in nothing other than Jesus Christ, the most important Man in my life.
Luke, the writer of the Gospel which I have least explored, recognizes the necessity to record the story of Christ for the “servants of the word” (Luke 1:2)
John, the writher of the Gospel with which I am most familiar with (so I’ll go into this a little deeper), starts off his work with these lovely verses:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5
Obviously John was not a grammar teacher…
Now, I want to unpack this, because it’s confusing. And not simply because John cannot seem to choose one tense to write his Gospel in (as sometimes happens when one gets really excited about Jesus).
First of all, the Word of God is what exists, has existed, and will exist forevermore (perhaps this is the real reason for John’s seemingly laxidasical switching of grammatical tenses).
So the Word of God is first of all a proper noun, and it is what gives life to all people and all things. The Word of God is, I believe, and many theologians and fellow young bible readers agree, none other than Christ.
If you substitute “Christ” for “The Word”, you get a very clear depiction of what the rest of John’s Gospel will be all about. Let’s give it a try, shall we?
In the beginning was Christ, and Christ was with God, and Christ was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
… That being stated, everything the “Word” does is actually what Christ does. Words, in this case, are the vehicle, the platform for bringing the said “life” and “light” to all people.
God uses words to call us all into being, and he puts the truth and love and perfection of his words into a physical form (coughJESUScough) so that we can see how to live the Gospel– the Word of God.
The Word in Three Forms
This is where I myself begin to better understand the Holy Trinity in a deeper sense. The Word of God is God, but then takes the form of a living man, then of a Spirit, which is mysterious and scary and… rather unexplainable to be honest! I’m talking about the Holy Spirit.
But unexplainable as it may be, it is this Holy Spirit which now dwells within each of our hearts and moves us to action. All three: Word, man, and Spirit is one God.
Some of the most beautiful experiences that I have had with the Holy Spirit have been with his words.
Now, the bible tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us during prayer, with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26). But the Spirit also has inspired some incredible pieces of writing without which we as Christians would not even exist!
I’m talking about the Bible folks. The Word of God.
So Paul and Soloman and John and Moses and David and a bunch of other people all contributed to writing it over years and years and years, but we do not believe that it was only mortal men. No. See, we believe that God uses language and people to write his words and his story for our benefit.
It all ties back to words. Or rather, The Word.
The Gospel According to Claire… JK!
Now, I don’t go all into this to tell you that I believe I am writing the words of God.
But I do take my position of writer very seriously.
Words have power, even if you are the only one who hears them (which is really never the case since God always hears them as well). And I personally have been deeply moved and changed by the words of others, so who’s to say that the Holy Spirit won’t speak through me and with my words? I have witnessed him speaking through others many a time!
You see, maybe God didn’t design all of us to be incredible Super Heros. But the Bible tells us that he has given us spiritual gifts which he awards us in order to help spread his message and truth.
What if we took every talent we had this seriously?
What if, with every special skill or uncovered ability we realized we possessed, we all sought after ways to give it back to God– the one who gave it to us in the first place?
It might be to preach at a newly-planted church, or a teacher in an inner-city school, or a motivational sports speaker, or a doctor saving the lives of potential believers, or it might be “just” a barista who hands sleepy-heads morning coffee with a warm smile. What if, no matter what we were doing, we were constantly striving to serve selflessly like Jesus did?
That, my friends, is how to live the word of God.
God blessed me with an odd obsession with words when I was a small child which turned into a love for writing when I was a teen. Now, God has molded that gift into a distinct writer’s voice that I am speaking to you in now.
Why wouldn’t I take that seriously and want to use it for his intention?
So that is what I am doing.
And that is why I find a great deal of meaning and importance in the seemingly simple practice of keeping a journal or updating a blog.
What about you?
What is your experience with journal-keeping? Are you as obsessed with words and writing as I am?
Do you have any talents that you are seeking to use for God’s will? What spiritual gifts do you feel you’ve been blessed with?
Tell me what you think and about your experience!
Today is the first Monday in 5 years that I am not a college student. I have graduated and am now a “true” adult, one might say. I could go into a long drawn out rant describing to you how this feels, but instead I will steal something that my wonderful mother-in-law sent me from Shauna Niequist’s blog.
The rest of the blog can be found here.
Dear graduates, this is the heart of what I want to tell you: God made you. He loves you, and he created you for a purpose. I used to think that purpose was singular—like I was made to be one thing and one thing only. But the more life I live, and the more things I become and un-become as life progresses, the more I realize that he’s not calling me to be a certain thing, but rather that he’s calling me to live a certain way. He’s created me and calls me to address the world’s need with my gifts, with my heart and my mind, with my hands and my voice.
It’s very easy to wait around on the sidelines for your very specific, perfectly-fitted part to play. But in my experience, you might find yourself waiting around for a long time. In my experience, God uses willing hands, not spectacular ones. He uses passionate people, not extraordinarily-gifted ones. We all want to feel that sense of everything coming together, our gifts and our passions and our life experiences. We all want to have that “I was made for this” feeling. In my experience, the way to that feeling is to put on your boots and get to work.
Start where you can, when you can, with what you have. Start with your belief that God loves you, and that he made you on purpose and for a purpose. Not for a moment, but for an ongoing lifestyle of service and sacrifice and vision. Don’t wait around and expect that amazing experience to come find you and tap you on the shoulder. Start making the world better every day, every day, every day, with your hands and your resources and your love and your willingness and your belief and along the way, you will find your place.
In the twentieth chapter of Acts, Paul wrote “I consider my life worth nothing to me, in order that I may testify solemnly to the goodness of the gospel of the grace of God.” That’s the heart of it all. God made a deeply beautiful and multifaceted world, and along the way, that beautiful world became broken, still very beautiful, but now also very broken.
This is where it gets exciting. You can make it better. You can testify to the goodness of the gospel of the grace of God. You can bring the garden back to life. You can stand in the way of injustice, or isolation, or abuse. You can sing or dance or teach or write stories that call us back to our better selves. You can be architects and speech therapists and scientists and athletes and pastors who give themselves, in daily, unglamorous ways to making the actual world better, to beating back the darkness and bringing light and life and motion and healing to the corner of the world that you’ve been called to.
In the words of George Bernard Shaw “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Dear graduates: the life you’ve been waiting for is happening all around you. This is it. This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events. But pull off the mask, and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted.
Your life, right now, is exploding with energy and power and detail and dimension, better than the best movie you have ever seen. You and your family and your friends and your house and your dinner table and your garage have all the makings of a life of epic proportions, a story for the ages, because they all are. Every life is.
You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, as though that was not enough, the God of the Universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.
You are more than dust and bones.
You are spirit and power and image of God.
And you have been given today.