In second grade I decided I would become an author. My plan was to write funny children’s books like Judy Blume’s “Super Fudge”– a definite fan favorite in 1982. My teacher, Mrs. Fossett, gave our class a weekly assignment to write a short story using our ten spelling words which was due every Friday. After lunch, we would take turns reading our tales in front of the room to our classmates. I loved the challenge of creating something that would entertain my friends. I loved their responses, especially their laughter as I read. Knowing it was my words that made them giggle brought me joy and filled my heart. And so writing became my dream.
Then, in third grade I decided to become a lawyer. I found the idea of using words to convince others to see my viewpoint and to hopefully improve the condition of another person or the world around me appealing. Plus, the lawyers I saw on TV drove fancier cars, had a lot more cash on hand and wore better clothes than most of the writers I saw on TV interviews. Who could deny the appeal of those three piece suits and shimmering Porsches? So, a mere twentyish years later, I graduated from law school.
But I have always been drawn to writing. I’ve kept some sort of journal pretty much all my life. I wrote for the school paper in high school and college. In law school, by the way, there was actually a lot of writing; I wrote the newsletter for our neighborhood HOA for years, published a monthly write-up for our Women’s group at church, and even created a daily email devotional for a group of friends who joined me in a fitness challenge over the course of several years. The second grade dream of becoming an author, well, it never quite died. Even today, I feel like it’s still a possibility; I hope that it is. But my challenge is this: I am also a Do-er. I am one of those people who loves to look back at the end of my day and see what it is I have accomplished. I love putting a Big Fat Checkmark on my list. For that reason, a day of yard work is glorious to me: I can literally see the results of three hours in the yard: I’ve planted three bushes, raked a pile of leaves, and picked up a brown bag full of sticks. Put a Big Fat Checkmark on that, it is DONE! So satisfying; I love patting myself on the back and getting the back pats from others.
That is the opposite of sitting down to write. First, I am sitting. And just thinking. And hopefully typing. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll be typing. If I spend an hour or two or three doing this activity, at the end, there is probably not all that much to look at. A bunch of words. It’s not a lot to point at and I can’t take my family on a tour of it after dinner. Even the re-known Oscar Wilde is credited with a famous jest about a writer’s hard day’s work: “This morning, I took out a comma, and this afternoon—I put it in again.” There are often few tangible results in a hard day’s work of writing. For this reason, I am much more likely to choose to do those things that are Big Fat Checkmark payoffs for me rather than sit down and write.
The problem with that is that the writing doesn’t get done. And as I said before, “I have always been drawn to writing.” I’m pretty sure this “draw” is God’s call to me, reminding me to use a gift he has graciously bestowed upon me. After decades of repeatedly choosing other activities rather than using this gift, I am finding the Big Fat Checkmark less fulfilling and satisfying. I want more. The Big Fat Checkmark isn’t as shiny as it used to be. Instead, I’m beginning to see that daily I am presented with two options: the first is to buy in to the appeal of the Big Fat Checkmark—which one could say represents the world’s applause of accomplishment and busy-ness. Or I can accept the invitation to sit down and work on honing my skills, using my gifts, exploring God’s plan for me. Even as I write that I am intimidated by it!
But what if that was how I viewed it? What if I looked into my office every morning and chose to see God there waiting for me? He invites me in with a smile, gestures to my laptop and says, “Let’s see what we can do today? What magic is floating in your sweet head this morning? Let’s get it out on the page!” He is excited, smiling. I love the idea of him holding a cup of coffee, wearing wise wire rimmed spectacles and an off-white cable knit sweater. He’s got a beard, of course, and white-grey wispy hair. I think He’s wearing a pair of black Tom’s or maybe hiking boots? And skinny jeans. That’s Him. His face radiates. He is so happy I’m here to use what He’s given me. He doesn’t ask that it’s perfect; He just wants us to move some commas around.
I pray I will take Him up on that invitation more and more. I pray I will see this work as necessary and do it as I am called. I wonder if you’ve been ignoring an invitation as well? Is there something intimidating God has put on your heart? To leave a job? To take on a new career? To organize your kitchen? To get healthy? If you’re like me and you’ve been ignoring the invitation, you’re probably feeling some unrest about that; it’s like even though you’ve got a bunch of Big Fat Checkmarks you’re happy to show off, you’ve got an uneasy feeling about what’s been left undone. I hope you will accept the invitation to do the undone. I hope you’ll choose to return that smile God beams at you and take a step toward his invitation. AMEN.