The recurring theme for me today was service. My writing is a gift from God to serve in ministry. The outcome of my writing may or may not be a book. My service may be to write encouraging notes to people I encounter. But the point is, I am supposed to serve others with my written words. I don’t think this theme is completely revolutionary to me, but I constantly need to be reminded of my true and only purpose.
My day began lazily, with no real events until after lunch. I spent my time choosing my workshops, catching up with my friends (did I mention we’re in the “party cabin”?) and responding to some emails. After lunch, I rebelled and skipped orientation to take a walk and shoot some photos. I’ll include a few of my favorites at the end of this entry.
Kim Bangs, of Regal Books, facilitated my first workshop, entitled “Dream Big: Taking a Concept/Idea to Developed Writing Idea.” I loved her enthusiasm and encouragement, particularly as she reminded us not to apologize for our ideas. Her workshop started my recurring theme when she said “Your main reason for writing is to serve the God who gives us the gift to write.” She questioned whether or not the eleven brothers in the story of Joseph missed their destiny because they got hung up on Joseph’s destiny. This idea fit perfectly with the discussion I’m preparing on envy for women in my church. Sometimes we are so consumed by the gifts God bestowed on others that we fail to use the gifts He granted us to serve. So timely!
I questioned whether or not I would enjoy our keynote speaker, Dick Foth, because I did not know who he was. After listening to him tonight, I realized how wrong I was to doubt. He engaged the audience with his humor and stories, but delivered a powerful message about Jesus. Again, he emphasized the eternal impact our writing can have on others and our need to focus on that. He entitled his series “Writing in the Sand and Other Things Eternal.” In referencing John 8, where Jesus deals with the Pharisees and the adulteress they want to stone, Foth said that Jesus engaged people – for just a moment – and made an eternal impact. Like writing in the sand, our writing is a vapor. But the truth of what we write will be of eternal significance. What we write must point people to Jesus. He then explored the simplicity of Jesus. He noted that people often warn us not to take anything away from who Jesus is, but he felt we are more inclined to add things to Jesus. He gave a wonderful illustration using a bottle of water and a bottle of coke. Water is simple; it’s two hydrogen and one carbon. It is vital to our existence, and our body is largely made up of it. Coke contains water, but has an extremely complicated formula. We bathe in water, not in coke. We wash with water, not with Coke. Why? Because water is cleansing and Coke leaves behind a bunch of junk. If you go without water for more than five days, you can die. If you drink too much Coke, it can be toxic to our health. Jesus is the water, simple and yet life-giving, cleansing and vitally important. When we add things to Jesus, like we do to make Coke, we get a bunch of junk…and can even make Him toxic. Keep in mind, however, His simplicity is profound. Our total dependence on Him is the only way we will have an eternal impact on the hearts of others.
In the coming days, I hope to do three things with my blog: 1) share with you some of my main take-aways from the sessions (like I did above), 2) provide you with some interviews of people I meet here so you can get to know some of the awesome friends I’m making, and 3) if you’re a writer, encourage you in your writing and share any tidbits of information that might help you.