The world had been wet for days. Relentless relief from blistering heat. Forced slowing of traffic and life.
She watched the rain sluicing from a Madison’s window. Opened the laptop to crack on at another chapter. But her mind wouldn’t stay on the screen – wandered out through the downpour – down avenues where scents of memories rose from the damp.
She remembered two small girls squirrelling dreams in an upstairs bedroom. The blonde one to her little sister, ‘You’re really going to write books, aren’t you?’ Like she’d suddenly seen her – seen the calling – knew and understood. She remembered their imaginings in the green shade of garden ferns and nasturtiums – how she wove them into elven magic on once-upon-a-time pages – how the words and the wonder gleamed across the landscape of her childhood.
She remembered how those stories grew up into teen-angst poetry that graduated into post-apartheid essays of the student finding freedom. She remembered being 19. She remembered the skirt and the black boots she wore the day of the Jo’burg conference of the writer-speaker she wanted to be. She remembered how the calling arrested her – how she knew and understood.
She remembered snippets of years scrawled in travel journals. Student bursaries spent on plane tickets and petrol to pen the spirit of place of 28 countries. Overland missions and all-alone bus rides and travelling sisterhoods and dragging teenagers through the Louvre. And the honeymoon months in Kendal – how they had eaten pastries on the High Street in rain just like this. How they had sniggered like kids in the Highlands B&B that looked like something out of Murder, She Wrote – how he’d said any minute Angela Lansbury would leap onto the scene to save one of them from being bludgeoned by a typewriter. How they’d lived off everything he earned flipping McBurgers and saved everything she earned braving the crazy of state school corridors so they could fold their dreams into backpacks and wear them wild on beaches from Greece to Morocco.
She remembered the first years of building their lives back home – her own words buried boring in French translations and sometimes taking flights to Fabuland or red-penned on the teen-angst poems of others. How she poured her words into a passion for split infinitives and telling those College boys who split her heart right open that Shakespeare could split the world wide with wonder even though they were 17 and life was split between rugby, girls and rugby.
She remembered how their firstborn came in the dark of an early April morning and how they didn’t yet know just how dark it was for him. How when the dawning came her voice rose up – rushed out – because the calling became to find bright words to paint his world – to find brightness again in herself – to write and write until she felt again the hope she believed because the darkness left her numb. The words dredged up life and strength and the keeping-on of keeping-on. She wrote so he would know and understand.
Then came a season of fresh rains – floods of thanksgiving that washed up joy and also the thrill of risk and a clearer calling that didn’t take the shape she thought it might.
The calling was to obedience. She knew and understood.
Obedience said, You are small. She would live and die under the rain clouds of this small planet like everyone before her and everyone after. And her small life would only ever mean a thing if she allowed herself to be written into a bigger story by the Author of Life – a story that didn’t revolve around her at all.
Obedience said, Write. Not for affirmation or affection, fame or following. Write because it’s worship. Write because it’s an offering to be left at the feet of the King. She knew and understood that worship wasn’t a book contract or a speaking gig. She didn’t have to wait to get picked. Worship was a lifestyle. A life’s work. And the brief was clear: spirit and truth. Being obedient to writing her worship would mean balancing creativity and discipline to create beauty that drew her heart to delight in him. Surely this is what Piper meant? That God would be most glorified in her when she was most satisfied in him.
Obedience said, This will cost you. She ran the risk of egg on face. But she knew and understood that obedience was always a faith gamble because you never knew how it would turn out. She didn’t know how her words would wedge a way through the bustle and roar of cyber-noise. Would they find quiet corners of searching hearts or echo back from static and silence? But she knew and understood that the Author had ways higher than hits and search engines. And because the writing was his – her gift given – the feedback was none of her business.
Obedience said, Be brave. Brave to wring soggy pages rained on and trampled in someone else’s parade. But she would keep telling herself that she didn’t have to be brave enough for the rest of her life. Just for the next decision. The next word.
Obedience said, Don’t compare. It told her to run in her own lane and leave others to run in theirs. She resolved to make obedience her only stopwatch for success because obedience reminded gently, The success of others? It is what it is. Keep running.
Obedience said, Crack on at that next chapter in Madison’s in the rain.
So worship, she wrote.
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