Frozen puffs of air tumbled from a deep sea of mouths – some chattering with excitement, others just doing their work of oxygen exchange. It was mid-December, and I found myself in the middle of what felt like a platoon of runners. The starting line was up ahead, and I had slipped inconspicuously into the crowd of folks who ran at a similar pace to mine.
I looked like them – donned in Nike apparel, timing chip laced onto my shoe, and sporting my trusty black running hat.
I had trained like them – having spent the last few months studying and implementing a standard training schedule with the obedience of an infantryman.
But when the actual moment had finally arrived, I stood in the middle of the crowded Charlotte street knowing one thing for certain – I wasn’t like them. They were runners. I was not. And it was too late to back out. What in the world had I gotten myself in to?
As I’ve confessed earlier (full disclosure found here), my education and work experience have been primarily focused in the business world. I’m not a writer. But through the years, I’ve found that words and thoughts would clutter my brain unless I found a way to capture, bring order to, and free them from the roaming wilderness of my mind. While ambling through life, I’ll occasionally trip upon an experience that I don’t want to forget. The ideas, emotions, and spiritual applications morph from pleasant fleeting visitors floating among my thoughts into a vicious stampede demanding to be noticed. Order from chaos would be obtained only by putting pencil to paper. Occasionally, as friends would experience similar situations, I’d hesitantly share some of my writing in the hope that the words would bring tangible form to the commonalities in life… and that we’d both be a little less alone.
This summer, I took the leap of sharing some of my meandering thoughts in a more public forum (which you’re currently reading). At the least, or perhaps most importantly, I’d be leaving written memorial stones for my children to remind them of the great things the Father has done in the lives of our family, and in the world around us. Thus is the birth of my writing on a more intentional and frequent basis. It has become a more integral part of my days, particularly when I’ve read or experienced something of significance.
The day before yesterday was one of those “wake up in the morning expecting a regular day” days. After returning from a lovely coffee date with a new friend, I learned that a spot had opened up for “Hutchmoot” – a conference in Nashville founded by Andrew Peterson and his friends at the Rabbit Room. Months ago, the conference had filled up so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to consider registering. Just as well. Hutchmoot draws musicians, artists, “real” writers, and other uber-gifted folks from across the country to spend a weekend together experiencing “live music, great food and conversation, and a series of discussions centered on art, faith, and the telling of great stories across a range of mediums.” Oh my. My heart beats faster just thinking about it. But I don’t really qualify, so a very closed registration saved me from the risk of… well, the risk of hoping and being disappointed. Or even more terrifying, the risk of hoping and receiving that for which I had dared to dream.
I half-heartedly decided to tap gently on the first door down the hallway that would lead to Hutchmoot. I fully believed (and secretly hoped) that the door wouldn’t open. I called my husband at work and instructed him, “I just need you to tell me that I can’t go to Nashville this weekend.” There were a multitude of factors which would support this reasonable response, including prior commitments and a full schedule. He didn’t follow the script. He wanted me to go. Shortly thereafter, a multitude of questionable details were quickly resolved, and my trip to Nashville became an unexpected reality.
Remember the “what have I gotten myself in to” dilemma I experienced at the starting line? Well, here I am again. I hardly consider myself a writer, yet that is the closest category under which I fit during the weekend. My only preparation through the years has been one of soul, not one of skill. Once again, I will find myself surrounded by those with far more experience and “right” to be there. But just as I did during my race, I’ll will myself to put one foot in front of the other and believe that my training, albeit quite different from those around me, will be sufficient for each step of the way.
I can’t help but to chuckle (or wince) that my last post was about living freely, without comparing to or performing for others. Drat. Sounded good last week. Stings a little this week. But what I can be sure of is that the Father is good. He is intentional. He uses our weaknesses, not our strengths, to bring glory to Himself. And I’d be well-advised to remember that “True humility is not thinking of less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” CS Lewis
So if I cross your mind this weekend, I’d ask you to pray for all those who will be attending Hutchmoot in Nashville:
~That we all would be aware of the subtle entrapments of comparison, pride, envy, shame, and a much longer list of enemies of humility.
~That in the midst of a stimulating environment rich with talent, conversation, and beauty, we would be mindful to worship the Creator, not the creation.
~That as we pause for a few days to consider the Great Storyteller, we’d experience a glimpse of the Great Story itself…
Then Jesus gave John a beautiful dream – except John was wide awake and what he saw was real and one day it would all come true…
I see a throne. And on the throne is a king. And the King is Jesus. All around the throne people are bowing down. They are giving him their treasures.
There are loud cheers and clapping, clapping and bright laughter like a thousand waterfalls and everyone bursts out singing a new song…
“This is our King! The Lamb who died, so we don’t have to – our Rescuer. All Honor and Glory! Forever and ever.” And every creature everywhere, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, joins in.
From all around
S i l e n c e
And I see Satan – God’s horrible enemy – thrown down, defeated
I see a sparkling city shimmering in the sky: glittering, glowing, coming down! From heaven. And from the sky. Heaven is coming down to earth!
God’s city is beautiful. Walls of topaz, jasper, sapphire. Wide streets paved with gold. Gleaming pearl gates that are never locked shut.
Where is the sun? Where is the moon? They aren’t needed anymore. God is all the Light people need. No more darkness! No more night!
And the King says, “Look! God and his children are together again. No more running away. Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid. No more being sick or dying. Because all those things are gone. Yes, they’re gone forever. Everything sad has come untrue. And see – I have wiped away every tear from every eye!”
And then a deep, beautiful voice that sounded like thunder in the sky says, “Look, I’m making everything new!”
Sally Lloyd-Jones The Jesus Storybook Bible
|A very public “Thank You” to the one who continues to cheer me on through the races of life – and who has the courage to go “off script” from time to time.
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