For the last couple of months I’ve been working on putting my first book of poetry out into the world. It’s only twenty-three poems, but they’re the best of what I’ve got from the last eight years, and my husband and friends have finally convinced me that it’s time to go for it. My daughter offered to help me with the layout and design, and it’s been fun to share this little project with her. I wonder what she thinks about having a mom who writes poems, and is crazy enough to share them with others. But then again, she told us the other day that her English teacher wants to help her publish a children’s book that she wrote. So maybe she does get it.
Sometimes the worst thing about being a self-employed artist is feeling like you have to convince people to check out your work. I don’t know if it’s always been that way or if it’s because so many people share things on the Internet now, but I hate feeling like I’m in competition with other writers, especially those who are my friends. There are so many great artists out there today, but I’d rather you didn’t know me at all than feel like I have to prove I’m better than someone else. I hate thinking about how people only have so much time available and won’t visit my website unless it’s more exciting than someone else’s.
Because the main reason I write has nothing to do with whether or not anyone else reads it. The main reason I write is to remember what I think is true. Because there are so many thoughts and words running around in my head all the time that I have to throw some of them down on paper before I can make any sense of them. It’s a practice I’ve had since seventh grade, when my Sunday School teacher gave me my first journal for my birthday. Perhaps she was hoping I would be inspired to write down some daily devotions, but sadly most of those early pages were filled with worries about how to fit in with the other kids in junior high, and whether or not a certain boy I knew would ever like me back. Oh well, at least it got me writing.
A few weeks ago I read through the book of Habakkuk, in a Bible app called Hope In the Dark. It was very comforting to read those scriptures every day, and it made me wonder if God had a message for me like he did for Habakkuk. I wanted to be faithful to write it down, in big bold letters like he did, but I found myself worried about the kind of message it might be. What if it’s awful, I asked myself. What if it’s sad, and something no one wants to hear? Or worse, what if I wrote down something that wasn’t from God at all?
After all, I’m just a 43 year old white lady, living in the suburbs in 2019. What’s so special about my life that God would want to speak into it? And yet, if he doesn’t, why spend time reading the Bible at all? Surely there’s a part of my heart that hopes he sees me when I open his Word, when I take pen in hand and try to collect some thoughts about truth, the world, and my place in it. That he still wants to communicate with people, like he did when he spoke to Habbakuk all those thousands of years ago.
One of my favorite verses in Habakkuk comes from chapter two, verse fourteen, where it says that, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” I like it because of the poetic sound of that last phrase, “as the waters cover the sea.” I love it when writers come up with phrases that evoke strong images: how the sea is literally made of water, but can also be seen as a gigantic object covered up with blue liquid. And I love the idea that God knew when he made the ocean that it would be a thing that revealed his glory to the world. How many times have people stood beside the ocean and contemplated the existence of a supernatural, intelligent, eternal being? It’s nearly impossible to look out over the water and not think such deep thoughts.
So here I am this morning wondering if perhaps this desire to share my work with the world might be one way I reflect God’s image. I mean, think about it. The creation of the world was not complete until God made mankind to share it with; that’s when he finally said things were “very good,” and began his Sabbath rest.* So perhaps it’s not egotistical and self-centered to want to put my poems into a book that others can read, or to put a link on my Facebook page to a story I wrote on my blog. Perhaps it’s just another way that I’m like the One who made me, who also made the ocean, along with millions of people to swim in it, or sail across it in ships they built, or take artistic pictures of it that they share with others on the Internet.
Have you ever taken the time to contemplate the ways you yourself might be bearing God’s image? You don’t have to be a prophet, or a writer, to share his love and beauty with others. You just have to make the time to see for yourself what he’s really like. Like Habakkuk, you must be still and wait to see what God says to you. And if you don’t know where to find him, try starting with the world he made for you, just outside your front door.