This past week I started teaching again. Sixteen students enrolled in Genesis Academy’s Oral and Written Expressions course, a class designed to improve writing and speaking skills. Next week, my lesson plans inform me that the topic of the day is What Do I Write About? (Of course, I might begin by telling them that traditionally we don’t end a sentence with a preposition, but that might be a bit much for the first full-blown writing class).
This question seems to be the age-old (insert whiney here, and pretend I didn’t say it) excuse for not writing. Even those of us who blog, journal, write on napkins in restaurants, and have words pressed between two covers of a book whine and complain sometimes. Since the internet launch of my book my writing and word well went dry. The bucket descended, but it came up empty. Only a dark ring moistened the bottom rim where it plunked down in the well. I realized it was time to remind myself of something I always tell my students: write what you know. I am not sure where I first heard this adage, but this sage advice is often attributed to the salty Mr. Mark Twain.
For weeks this question (I thought I was so far beyond it, not) poked at me. What do I write about now? After exhausting all I have written in the last seven years, how in the world do I begin again? Where, oh where do I start? For weeks, my blog hung in the blogging world—empty and void of anything new.
Sick with aches and pains and fever, I stayed home on the couch today listening to podcasts and reading. I gravitated to Mark—the immediate Gospel. This time I read the account in The Message, which lends a different feel and tone to a familiar text. This familiarity reminded me of what I try to encourage my students to embrace.
Write what you know.
In August of2007 I wrote the following:
All my Christian life I have been taught to read the Scriptures and watch what the other person is doing in an encounter with Jesus. I was encouraged to watch the person and either behave like them or don't behave like them. I should observe and note what they did in a situation with Jesus and either emulate them or dismiss them. Seems simple, right? If I am supposed to look like Jesus...act like Jesus...be like Jesus why in the world am I watching everyone else? Why am I going to Scripture and noticing and studying others before I look at Jesus? When I started reading the gospels repeatedly, I discovered something. Watching Jesus changes your perspective. Watching others causes you to attempt to change your behavior and your actions. When you watch Jesus, your attitude and the condition of your heart is revealed. Jesus calls you to change inwardly first, and the outward behavior will be the fruit of that change. You cannot truly watch him and remain unmoved.
I am returning to what I know, returning to the familiarity and immediacy of Mark’s account of the good news of Jesus. I am returning to watch him, and I would love for you to join me. I invite you just to sit down with me (I’ll try to keep the posts short) and with the first installment of the series posting this Friday, September 4. We will watch Jesus together. Invite others to join us. Jesus enjoys the supper table full—the more the merrier.