“OK, writers. Two minutes.”
AAUGH! Two minutes to write six words describing my life scared me into certain galvanic skin responses so well-developed during my school years – shortness of breath, no breath, rapid heartbeat, uh----oh butterflies. Why didn’t someone tell me writer’s groups gave pop quizzes?
I sat. I thought. I sat and thought. Someone hummed final Jeopardy music. Blank, blank, blank compressed the time.
OK, group. Time’s up. Anybody want to share? A silent “no” flashed in my brain. A glued-to-table hand stiffened me. A no-eye-contact strategy emerged. Is there a place to hide? Maybe the teacher won’t call on me. Yikes! Can someone get me out of here?
Knowing I was over-matched, I retreated. How would I ever become a writer if I couldn’t write six words on command?
Invisible, making it through the evening, as I rode home up the interstate with the pressure off and my mind freed, my sigh relieved me and six words came – No time limit, please. In progress.
I wanted to turn the car around, reconvene the class and raise my hand to say, “I’ll read mine.” Hey, teach. How about a heads up next time?
Months passed. Meetings passed. Thoughts turned to more present demands. And then, I heard it again.
“OK, writers. Write six words describing Christmas and Santa Claus. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. I forced the words – late night, lost screws, cuss words. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Six more words came – sleigh riding, gift pusher, food snatcher. Hey, I thought. The words came in time. Maybe I’m getting better.
My Sunday school class posed a question a few Sundays ago. Discussing the tug between Scripture’s complexity and simplicity, someone asked, “But how do you become a better Christian?”
I thought, then spoke, “There is no how.” Much the wrong question, “how” suggests a conditionality Scripture speaks against. If there was a “how,” I could earn it. With “how,” God could love me because of some value I possessed. And doesn’t value make me better than the next person or maybe equal as some folks see it? Mmm… see where this is going?
C.S. Lewis clarified the matter when he wrote, “The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love.”
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Blank, blank, blank is the life spent asking “how.” Time stretches and lingers while we stare at the page and wonder. Tim Challies says, “But writers write. Singers sing, runners run, painters paint, and writers write.” So, when,? God asks.
Six words – Not how. Just see and do.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).