(Blogger’s Note: Perhaps it’s an appropriate moment to share just a word about my writing philosophy, especially what I write here on the blog. I don’t aspire to, consider myself, or even necessarily admire the lable of “Christian writer.” I’m a writer who’s a Christian, but I honestly just write about the things in which I’m interested. At this moment, and hopefully beyond, my highest aspiration is that of a growing, ever-maturing disciple of Christ. So that’s reflected in my writing and I couldn’t change it if I wanted to. I don’t seek out a Christian audience. In fact, I go out of the way to write for everyone, Christians, atheists, agnostics, widows, drunks, manic depressives and grumpy old men sitting in a recliner by the fireplace sipping fine brandy. We’re all in this together. I want to write about the things we all think about somewhere deep down, yet rarely discuss aloud. With that caveat, parts of today’s short post may contain a bit more “Christianese” than I normally prefer. Sometimes, it’s hard to get around.)
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
The training walks for the Camino de Santiago are now increasing in both frequency and distance. It offers a lot of thinking time to someone who probabaly already thinks too much about too much.
As part of my pilgrimage prep I’ve been reading a lot lately, both in the religious and secular genres. Much of the reading has been focused on awareness. One book title is, in fact, titled “Awareness” by Anthony de Mello if you’re interested. It was recommended by my friend, Jay Gunter.
The readings have caused me to think a lot about the things I do, why I do them, and the real motives behind them. Am I giving to charity because I want to make a difference, or just to feel good about myself, or worse yet, because I hope to gain something in return?
Am I sitting in church because it’s what we do in this town, or because I genuinely want to learn and serve in community?
And the big question that came out of nowhere this morning: Am I writing because it’s what I’m meant to do, or because in some twisted way, I just like drawing attention to myself or my work?
The bigger question I moreover asked myself was this: Would I actually go on this pilgrimage if I couldn’t write about it, and talk about it? Would I go, if it was just to spend time alone with God, and no one ever knew the difference?
I’d like to think the answer to the latter question is “yes,” but maybe I’ll never know, because I heard God answer the former question and that was that. That’s all there was.
Allow me a quick sidebar.
What I’ll write in a moment raises this interesting question: How do you hear God’s voice? Maybe even more difficult to distinguish is this: How do I know when it’s God’s voice as opposed to me just telling myself something I want to hear?
I wish I could answer that question definitively. Maybe someone who reads this and has a better understanding than me, can offer their thoughts in the comments section. Please feel free to join that discussion here. I simply cannot answer the question definitively.
I’m not one of those people who will tell you I clearly hear God’s voice on a daily or even yearly basis. It’s honestly a rare thing for me to hear it with crystal clarity. But it does happen, and it happened this morning. (Maybe one day I’ll write about the two “visions” I’ve had in my life. Yes, I said visions. In 49 years, there have been two. Alas, another time.)
Here’s what I do know. The occasions when I do hear God’s voice are helped when I’m most intentional about my bible study, prayer, meditation and a genuine search for truth. Sometimes, I’m better at all that than others. This is a moment when I’m pretty disciplined in all those regards.
So I’m strolling along this morning two miles into a 10-mile trek, full pack in tow, and not necessarily talking to God as much as I’m talking to myself, and I ask myself that question about whether I’d be interested in the camino if I couldn’t write or talk about it. This is a big deal for me, you see, and I really want to be aware of my motives here. Otherwise, and without that awareness, what good may come from it? Surely none.
Then God enters the conversation and answer that question just as clear as a bell. This is what He said:
“I want you to write about it. I made you to write about it. I created you to write about me. This is what you do. Listen to me and I’ll tell you what to do. Tell everyone.”
I’m no longer going to question my motives.
I’m just going to write. It’s what I do. He told me so.