He talked with such intimate fellow-feeling of Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitfield, theology. He loved these guys; theological concepts were real and exciting to him. He got really, really excited talking about theology and Scripture–as I do!!
I was then working on a big secular book. My eyes filled with tears as I listened to Jack Miller, because theology so excited me, the things of the Spirit so excited me that I wanted to spend all day splashing in the waves of God. But I believed my calling and my training was to secular, literary writing.
Besides, Paul who was then discipling me said, rightly or wrongly, that I hadn’t progressed enough in my discipleship to write a Christian book with integrity. And so I plugged on with my secular writing, with the fire dying down.
(I wish I had discovered blogging then. Christian blogging is not about having the answers. It’s about recording the journey.)
* * *
On Sunday afternoons, we used to take the girls to the splendid Williamsburg Regional Library. I noticed my interests had changed when instead of picking up the “New Yorker,” “Atlantic” or “Harpers,” and fretting about when I would get there, I found myself picking up “Christianity Today” because, actually, the theological essays were what interested me.
My Oxford degree in English, my Masters in Creative Writing, the Ph.D work in Creative Writing—I am sure I still subliminally use that knowledge and skills in my blogging and Christian writing.
Annie Dillard said that moving from writing poetry to writing creative non-fiction was like moving from playing a single instrument to playing with an entire orchestra.
I felt like that while moving from secular writing to Christian writing. I am now writing using my whole mind, spirit, heart and strength. I am no longer smuggling my faith on board, like a stowaway, but am having her captain the ship instead. The captain is not always on duty; Christian writing is not always about faith, but faith does set the course for the work.
* * *
I have long been inspired by song-writers like Matt Redman, Michael Card, and Rich Mullins whose music flows out of their devotional life. I longed to be like that, for writing to flow out of my spiritual life.
In blogging, I have found that place.
If my spiritual life is flat and dull; if I am consumed by distraction and ignoring Him; if I am persisting in something I recognise as sin by ignoring the whispers of conscience; if I am running from God, if I am refusing to forgive–there is no fun in writing a spiritual blog. It takes longer; it’s flat and wooden; there is not much life in it, and, interestingly–it often falls flat with readers.
The fun blog posts flow out of my spiritual life. And then there is such joy in expressing something dear to me, that I don’t hugely care about page views, I have so enjoyed writing it. Rilke describes this in his Letters to a Young Poet.
“You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. Now I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing.
Write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in beauty. Describe all these with heartfelt, silent sincerity.
And if out of this turning within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not, for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it.