As I write it’s Monday morning. I’ve had a wonderfully exhausting weekend, driving north and preaching five times, and a restful night. It’s a cold winter day outside. I only know because I let Hazard out for minute or two before ducking back into the warm security and comfort of our home. Now I want to write.
I realize more and more that I am probably not a writer who speaks, but I am a speaker who writes. But I do and I will write and work hard at writing for the rest of my life because there are so many people I can reach through writing who I will never have the opportunity of speaking to.
Yesterday two people in two different places wanted to meet me after I had spoken. They had been reading the Stonebridge Newsletter for years and loved the stories and wanted to meet the writer in person. Not everyone reads dense text on a page or screen but many do and for them I write. For those who I have never met and those who I will never meet I write.
I also write especially for those who I have meet and who I deeply love, many of whom share my last name. I write for my children and for the children who will be born to my children and I write for their children. I write for them so that I will pass on a rich heritage of faith and love for life and fidelity to Christ, Our Savior.
Once, years ago, when our children were all small and we were passing through deep, dangerous waters, I spent a day alone with the Lord high over some water under a pine tree writing, reading, listening to a recording–a wonderful old recording of a man’s testimony of the faithfulness and direction of God. I prayed and searched through my Bible looking for answers that would steady my soul during a time of self-doubt, self-condemnation, and self-evaluation.
I’ll save the heart of the story for another time, but on that summer afternoon the Lord directed my eyes to a passage in Isaiah that I seized upon as a personal promise to me. “All your children will be taught of the Lord adn great will be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13) It is one of the soaring prophetic future kingdom promises to Israel. My heart so longed for it to be true of the children the Lord had given to Lois and I. Four sons taught of the Lord. Four daughters taught of the Lord. My soul longed for that to come to pass. My heart believed that it would come to pass. I may have had a simplistic understanding of how to apply the Scriptures that afternoon, but it seemed that the Spirit had directed my eyes down the page in a specific answer to the longing concern of my soul.
“Lord,” I prayed that afternoon, “What about my children. What about them. I’m serving you and you have given me assurance that no weapon formed against me will prosper. You have given confidence that you will condemn any voice that rises against me in judgment. (Isaiah 54:17) I believe it. But because of my weakness and failure and abrasiveness and because of the depravity of others I fear that my children will be harmed. I fear that they will be turned away from serving you.” I looked away from my Bible and out over the water and prayed aloud, “What about our children?”
I glanced back down and my eyes focuses on verse thirteen. My hopeful heart seized upon it as a promise from the Lord. The passage seemed to be saying, ‘I will teach them myself and they will have peace.’ All your children will be taught of the Lord and great will be the peace of your children.”
And so I write. I write so they will read of the works and the wonders of God and pour themselves into our grandchildren so they will set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep his commandments–(Psalm 78). I write so all our children will be taught of the Lord and know in personal experience what it means to live at peace with God.
I’ve written Sunset on Summer, collection of family stories. I’ve written over a thousand other essays and stories. I’m near finished with a collection of stories clustered around the theme of my grandfather’s old central Ohio farm and I will keep writing. I will keep writing for my children and their children and for you and your children.
May Jesus Christ be Praised and may all your children be taught of the Lord.
January 30, 2012