“Every morning you climb several flights of stairs, enter your study, open the French doors, and slide your desk and chair out into the middle of the air.” Annie Dillard wrote in The Writing Life. I was raised to value utility. I felt the need to prove my practicality. I have a degree in history with a specialization in medieval studies. Then to prove that the poet could be sensible I got a degree in business administration with a specialization in accounting. I think accountants are awesome! They amaze me and have my undying appreciation. Why? In part because I always found accounting tedious. I have a degree in a subject that I don’t enjoy. The brief time I worked in accounting I was miserable and wrote poetry filled with angst to try to endue it. I ended up in christian education and that has proven a field that uses my strengths to glorify God. The only one who was being glorified in the whole accounting period was my image as a practical girl. Getting a degree in a field you don’t like is not practical. It reeks of pride.
As life has become fuller, and time is now a precious commodity, writing fell to the background. Generally it has fallen away almost all together. I am so exhausted by the fast pace of my life that I think I need to reconnect in order to save myself. You see, I am on the edge of burnout. By the grace of God I haven’t burned all the way out, but I am often down to a dull flicker.
I have let fear hinder me. I am afraid to push my desk and chair out into midair. I once believed in miracles, ordinary, everyday miracles. Now I dread failure. Fear is self-fulfilling just like pride. Just as I proved how much of a dreamer I was by getting a degree in accounting, now I daily prove that I cannot write, by not writing. There is not time in my busy life to write, because it takes me so long to psych myself up into writing. It came effortlessly most of my life. Now I am in fear that I don’t deserve the miracle of words.
As so many have noted before, when we write it seems as though the hand of God is involved in the process. Now, the voice of self-doubt, asks why God would bother to send me meaningful words. Why would God use me?
As I pondered this question and this writing assignment, I was reminded of Jesus’ first miracle in John 2:1-11. At the wedding in Cana Jesus is asked by his mother to help the bridegroom who has run out of wine before the feasts ends. At first Jesus asks what that has to do with him, for his time has not come. Still his mother urges him to help them. His response is to ask the servants to refill the ritual purification jars with water.
We pause, wondering what good large jars full of water used for washing up will do. The problem is that they need wine, not water. The feast is already underway. They do not need to wash their feet and hands again. It looks a lot like he sent the servants off on busy work which will be useless in addressing the real problem. Ritual washing is practical, but it will not serve the purpose. Except… Jesus is there. This turns into a miracle. He tells the servants to take the full washing jars to the steward and the jars that were full of nothing important are full of wine, excellent wine.
The centurion came to Jesus in Matthew 8:5-13 seeking healing for his sick servant. but in verse eight he uttered the humble words that he was not worthy for Jesus to come under his roof, but, “just say the word and my servant will be healed.” This gives rise to the liturgical passage just before Holy Communion in the Roman Rite where the congregation declares themselves unworthy, but “only say the word and I shall be healed.”
I am not worthy for God to use my words. All the same, I believe that he does use words offered in praise of Him. If my words are actually offered in sacrifice to His glory then He may use them. It does not depend upon my wisdom, strength, power or influence. When I pour my words out for Him then I am healed.
God’s love for people is so extreme that Jesus took the time to provide a wedding banquet with more wine. If glorifying Him is the purpose then He will guide our words even today. Words as common as water can be turned into wine.