Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Fighting on the frontline

Today I found myself standing in a hopsital gazing at the photo board for the hospital chaplaincy. Out of the nine photos on display, the denominations listed were a mix of Anglican and Catholic with one Lutheran. In the past and in the present, the first two denominations have been in the news headlines for their terrible shortcomings mainly to do with abuse allegations. Sadly some are famous for it, and the worldwide church gets put in the same basket (ironically, we're all one church).

A lovely lady chaplain came up to me and I voiced what I was thinking, that these same denominations are also the ones who are actually going about the business of doing the work we all are commissioned with, still showing the love, and being right where they are needed - helping people who are in serious predicaments and needing God's reassurance (especially salvation).

Her reply was profound: "We are on the frontline. It makes sense we will come under attack. We get our hands dirty [doing this work]." She said other things as well, but this made absolute sense.

If you aren't bothering the devil, he ain't gonna bother you.

Where were the other denominations? The Baptists, the Unitings, or even my own Church of Christ? This is not to put them to shame as I know in other hospitals all around the world the denominations represented will be different. All I could think was that though the newspapers highlight the horrors and sadness, the good these guys are doing and the comfort they do impart is passing very much under the radar of the world. I have no doubt that it is not going so quietly with God.

I swear I could hear Him shouting, "Well done! You're doing it! You're doing it!" And they are.

Don't be too quick to write off the whole church because of the wrongs of a handful. Abuse is horrible and everyone acknowledges the damage can go beyond imagination.

What I am saying here is do remember to pray for those on the frontline who have gotten off the sidelines and are actively doing good work. These are your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Pray for what they are up against.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

This is a difficult blog to write and I hope you can understand the heart of where I am coming from, that I am not being glib or chintzy. Our war is not with flesh and blood. When I told the lady chaplain she is working a hard market, her nod of agreement said it all.

Selah: Pause and reflect, weigh and determine.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4v16

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The old adage we hate to love...

Any writer who's ever read any advice on writing has heard the old saying "Write what you know". This was the first lesson taught to me what I began formal writing training.

Considering I was about 20 at the time, it was empowering and limiting all at once because I was about to read a rather disheartening column aimed at growing writers (supposedly).

A girl had written in and asked about a rejection letter she had received where the publisher was refusing her submission because she was too young (from memory she was about 19). Was this unfair? Was it discriminatory? Was it biased when they didn’t know her?

Obviously this is a good example of how not to pitch a book and explains why only the most select and savvy details must be given when pitching, yet the reply to her letter from the help column was insightful.

‘How can you write persuasively and powerfully when you haven’t lived enough to know how?’

That was the gist of it. Dang. I wasn’t that far off her own age but felt I could write something worth reading. Did I now have to wait until I was thirty or even forty so I could submit something more experienced and viable?


I needed more life experience. How does one get that?

Answer: It takes time.

In the meantime, I could write what I knew, and I did. The feedback was encouraging and so I continued to a point where stronger criticisms could be given without me passing out and my prose and knowledge of the craft I love have vastly improved.

That old adage cops a beating from people who don’t like being told what to do, but if you can grasp it to get you to a new place, the training is immeasurably valuable. If you’re going to write with authority, first you have to practise and that requires knowledge. The bonus is that information can easily be found and people are always willing to tell what they know to help you learn.

If you’re 19 and disheartened, don’t give up. Everyone can vouch for experience, and there are some experiences that can simply never be used, so don’t wait. Just write and persevere, and don’t be afraid of the rejection.

Decide: Can you persevere? If not today, maybe tomorrow?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16v33

Il fallait que je vous dise aussi cela pour que vous trouviez la paix en moi. Dans le monde, vous aurez à souffrir bien des afflictions. Mais courage! Moi, j'ai vaincu le monde.