Make it Happen
The early strains of my authorial inclinations arrived twenty-eight years ago, as song lyrics. Words to worship the living God rode the wings of melody straight into my spirit. Was that exciting, or what! Each new song shone with possibility. I scribbled them down, determined which chords supported the melodies, and typed up my treasures with their chords hovering happily above them: C, Bb, F#, Am, C7dim etc. Dainty letters and symbols, aren’t they? And any musician worth their salt would have no trouble knowing what chords to play. But knowing when to play them? Or what tune to sing the words to? That was a problem. You see, although I could compose the tunes, and even understand the harmonies, I had never learned to play a musical instrument (beyond a wooden recorder), nor had I developed any fluency in writing musical notation. The music might have been within me, but my ability to communicate it to others was limited.
Mind you, I wasn’t completely without options. I managed to produce music scores using computer programs, but the gap between my expertise and that needed to produce a finished article good enough to get those songs ‘out there’ seemed too wide to bridge on the budget I had. I leaned towards compromise; I told myself that even if nobody else ever heard or sang those songs, it was okay, because God heard them. He received my personal expressions of praise and worship every time I sang them, and at least He and I were blessed. And that was true. It also gave me an easy way out, especially once I heard a pastor suggest that if our plans or the operation of our gifts and talents faced huge obstacles, or seemed thwarted by circumstances, we should probably ‘put those things on the shelf, and leave it to God to make them happen’. Hmm. Really?
All these years later, I am convinced that the pastor’s advice, albeit well-meaning, was dubious, if not downright flawed. Why? Because that kind of advice made it easy to give up, and easier to blame ‘God’s will’ for anything and everything that could’ve, should’ve, would’ve but didn’t happen. Thankfully, at about that time, the Holy Spirit highlighted some verses from Psalm 68 in the Amplified Bible (yes, he made it loud and clear) to me, including:
- Verse 11: ‘The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host.’ Yes, that’s how it is, punctuation and emphasis included!
- Verse 19: ‘Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries us day by day, even the God Who is our salvation! Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! I did ‘Selah’. Then I wrote a song based on that verse as a consequence of my meditation.
- Verse 28: ‘Your God has commanded your strength [your might in His service and impenetrable hardness to temptation]; O God, display Your might and strengthen what You have wrought for us! Was I tempted to give up? Yep. But just look at the order of that verse. First, God commands our strength. Then the psalmist implores God to strengthen what He has wrought for us. I figured, if it was good enough for King David …
- Verse 35: ‘O God, awe-inspiring, profoundly impressive, and terrible are You out of Your holy places; the God of Israel Himself gives strength and fullness of might to His people. Blessed be God!’
I decided it was risky to shelve something difficult or challenging in the hope (or presumption) that, if God wanted to, he’d make it happen. I decided it was better to trust him to strengthen me and help me make it happen. As a consequence, I’ve learned to maintain a very large ‘pending’ file—and check it regularly. Had my stubborn and tenacious streak not underpinned my decision to persevere, in spite of many obstacles, I may never have been surprised (and delighted) to hear a congregation singing one of my songs at a church I visited some twenty-three years after I wrote the song.
While none of my songs were ‘published’ in the traditional sense, over the years a number of them were heard, and sung, by a wider audience than God and me. What’s more, writing those songs seeded my passion for writing poetry and lyric essays, which I have had traditionally published. Two of my poems were published in CWD’s Glimpses of Light anthology. I love the spirit behind the following comment from the anthology’s acknowledgement page:
‘Glimpses of Light began as an inkling of an idea last year … At first we put it in the ‘too hard basket’, but the idea just wouldn’t go away.’
Wouldn’t it? It might have …
- if our dedicated Editors, Jeanette O’Hagan and Nola L Passmore had shelved the idea before it got off the ground. But they didn’t.
- if the many authors who contributed stories and poems had buried their creative talents at the back of a shelf and left them there. But they didn’t.
- without the encouragement and effort of everyone who helped to make that project happen. But encourage and help they did.
- if the enemy’s plans to prevent these ‘stories and poems of imagination and hope’ from reaching the hearts that would be inspired and healed by them had succeeded. They haven’t so far.
- if God had not answered our many prayers for wisdom, guidance, strength, and protection, time and again. But He did. And guess what? Glimpses of Light HAPPENED!
Now, the music of hope fills the pages of an anthology. Our ability to pass hope on to the world is only limited by the good intentions we shelve and the actions we don’t take.
Why not re-establish a link with your own projects that have languished on the shelf, or in the too hard basket? At the very least, relocate them to a pending file, at least in your mind. Then trust God to strengthen you, to help you see them through. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. What have you got to lose, other than a shelf full of clutter?
Blog and comments first posted on Christian Writers Downunder Dec 2015.