Writing as Ministry
THE QUESTION: Lord, how do you want me to look at my writing, especially the writing I do as a form of ministry?
THE ANSWER: Look at a casserole ceramic dish!
At first I wanted to make the casserole ceramic dish picture merge with my memories of a clay pot I took away with me in the moving truck when I was 9 years old. That’s when I said goodbye to all my friends, the home where I had been born and lived in all my life, the street, the cashew and mango trees in the back where I had spent so many afternoons playing. I insisted on taking the clay pot with me to my parent’s new missionary assignment. It was my way of staying connected, not letting go of all that was so dear to me. Thinking about that pot still brings tears to my eyes.
But no, reminiscing about my past is not the task the Lord has assigned to me.
Next, I thought of some elaborate jars my father used to bring home from the Marajó Island. This island is bordered by the Amazon River to the west and northwest, the Atlantic Ocean to the northeast and by the Pará River to the east. Those beautiful clay pots always intrigued me and it turns out they belong to the Marajoara ceramic tradition dating back to 600 AD.
But no, Jesus doesn’t want my writing to be beautiful, ornate, classic or historic! Not that I have any objections against archeology. To the contrary, it fascinates me to imagine how other civilizations lived long ago. I often wonder how history, God’s history, will reveal itself, one day, as a series of carefully orchestrated divine interventions in time and space! Neither do I have any aversion regarding classic works of literature. They are there for my delight and personal growth.
Yes, my writing needs to be just a plain, white, ceramic casserole dish. It needs to be pleasing to the eye enough to make the food it holds more inviting. It needs to be easy to clean and to protect its food from contamination. It needs to keep the food warm long enough while it waits for people to serve themselves. My writing needs to hold a colorful variety of rich, mouth-watering nourishment for the soul.
The size of the ceramic dish is also important. I am not to put out a food bar, one of those huge outfits which combine variety and quantity to feed a multitude. No, my casserole dish will serve homemade food, at the dinner table. It will add value to the ordinary and yet precious moments we are given most days as we share our lives with those closest to us. My writing should hold that food. I know I can include more people at my table. Jesus wants me to invite those who are hungry for the food He gives me to share.
And that’s the last point to be made with the picture He gave me: Jesus is the one who provides the food. He is the one who brings people to places of repentance, reconciliation and renewal. He teaches me many lessons; a few of them, not all, should be shared. None of these things I have the power to create in my writing; all I do is transfer to paper what I see as wisdom-filled reality. I ask Him to show small movements to me because I know life lessons can and should be appreciated, learned and shared. My creativity lies not in inventing my own truisms but in the combination and presentation of real-life moments of truth, all of them brought to me by His generous hands.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.