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On Writing, Jonah, and Fish Bellies


So yes, let’s try this again shall we?

Three years ago I wrote a rather heartfelt, impassioned blog about how I was avoiding writing but that God had gotten my attention and led me to start a blog called “Signposts." Then this past December I sat down in Portugal and basically rewrote that same blog, forgetting what I had written in 2016.

Ironic? Maybe. Disappointing and disheartening? Absolutely.

Thank God he gives us second chances. And third. And a thousand more if we need them. His great grace has sustained me and wooed me and drawn me again and again, and if I have simply come back to where I started years ago, I cannot let myself be too discouraged. After all, the first few steps down the right path are still better than a thousand steps down the wrong one. Or never starting at all.

I’d like to share the blog I wrote in December, and then renew my commitment to writing and posting on a regular basis. I humbly ask for prayer as I follow the call I believe God has placed on me.

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"A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” - Thomas Mann in Essay of Three Decades

Setting: a cafe in the Algarve, on the southern coast of Portugal. A peaceful view of the Atlantic Ocean beckons me to look away from this ancient 8-year-old MacBook Air and get lost in the rhythmic, soul soothing beating of the waves. Why would I want to disturb the peace by beating my fingers on this sticky keyboard instead?

But the sea reminds me of boats, and of whales, and of seasick, rebellious prophets who ran away from the voice of God to do anything BUT what he asked them to do. And then I remember why I came here—to stop my Jonah-like running and turn back to the voice which has beckoned me for many years now. The voice I dismissed as ridiculous, or tuned out with “ministry,” or questioned with audacity, or relegated to the shadowy “I’ll-do-that-someday” region of my mind—depending on my mood that day. The voice I did everything except obey.

I’m sure you have your own Jonah-like calling that you have run from, and a voice you have heard asking you to do what you are deeply uncomfortable doing. I have a feeling my experience is with the vast majority of Christians, not minority. My particular calling I’ve been running from is to write, and more specifically, to allow people to read what I write (which has proven a MUCH greater challenge). But I can’t run anymore, because that running is becoming more and more uncomfortable all the time. I’m sure not on par with being in a fish belly (don’t want to even unpack that in my imagination…) but maybe there’s emotional and spiritual fish bellies that God uses to arrest us in our tracks and get us to face him. That has certainly been the case for me.

If it was three days for Jonah, it’s been three years for me. I guess God knows how much one can tolerate in which belly. I looked back at my last blog and saw it was posted in 2016. Part of me was shocked it had been that long, and part of me wasn’t surprised at all. I’ve had quite the three years after all. The emotional energy it took to get out of my bed was sometimes all I had for the day. Other times I gave all I had to the church in Russia, or my family, with nothing left over to give. To write from the brokenness I was experiencing (which I regularly did) but then choose to display and share that vulnerability with the world was just too much for me. I buried all my talents in the dirt (in other words, some Word doc files and flash drives) and told God it was good enough that I was preserving it for “someday.” The thing is, “someday” never comes. It never comes because it only exists as a figment of our imaginations. All I have in reality is today. And today I chose to stop running, hiding, excusing, downplaying, ridiculing, and burying. I’m literally crying out to God, “Ok! I’ll do what you asked! I’ll obey even when everything in me wants to rebel and run away!”

So I end this year 2019 and begin 2020 with a new commitment and calling to write, and then share it with you—whoever and wherever you are. You, who has read these ramblings up until this point so you must be in some level committed to finishing this, and so maybe you’ll read the next thing I post too. And the next. And the next. And God willing, the next one after that… I hope my words will move you, inspire you, bless you, embolden you, and maybe even anger you sometimes. I pray my words will draw paintings in your minds and tug at places of your heart that you may not think of very often. I hope my words can be a signpost you happen to come to on a given day, pointing you towards goodness and grace. Thank you for the opportunity to give that gift.


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