By Linda Rodriguez
The question startled me and for a moment I couldn’t answer. The writer’s meeting was over. The speaker, a kindly gentleman pastor, had finished his teaching and sat on the front row to talk with the crowd and answer questions. I waited until he was free and approached him with my $10 bill to purchase his book.
“And what have you published?” he asked as he received the payment. “Me? Oh nothing.” My nervous laugh punctuated the comment.
“Are you working on something?”
“Well, not really. You know, I used to write…”
Mentally, I reviewed the list of excuses that I’ve learned to recite over the years as to why I am not currently writing. I’d been a part of this writer’s group for over a year now. It is a great group – one month we have a speaker and the following month we gather around a table and critique one another’s work. Oh, in the past I had submitted a piece or two for review. Nothing new, just old things that I could pull out and use for participation on the critique days.
Mostly, I just sat and listened. Even without my own submission on the table, I learned from the comments and constructive criticisms of the other writers.
Truthfully, I was coasting. My time with the group was productive because I really did learn things from both the speakers and the collective critique sessions. However, it was also unproductive, for it never translated into new work for me. I knew this. And I was always prepared with an excuse.
“Yeah, I used to write, but lately, well…” “Then why are you here?’
Why am I here? He didn’t even smile. Isn’t this a writer’s meeting? Why am I here?
I really couldn’t answer, and I scrambled for an appropriate response. He motioned for me to sit down on the front row with him as he watched and waited for my answer. My nervous laugh returned. I caught sight of Teena, the moderator who was clearing away the empty chairs.
“Teena is always fussing at me about writing.”
No, that wasn’t true, she said, and she was right. Teena never fussed; she encouraged. She was able to make the right environment for writing, and it truly was to the benefit of those who participated.
“Honestly. I’ve been praying about it. I need to get the energy for writing back again.” I tried my best to sound convincing.
“Well, I’ll be praying for you, kid,” he said, and I knew he meant it. I accepted the compliment of being called a kid again and left feeling challenged.
Why am I here? Why, indeed?
All day long I pondered that question – that incisive, cut-to-the-quick kind of question that had punctured my excuse. Why, indeed, was I here – absorbing everyone’s knowledge about writing skills – if I wasn’t putting it to an active use? I pondered it just like Mary had pondered the wondrous news that she received from the visiting shepherds. Something marvelous was in the air the night the shepherds came calling and Mary recognized its importance. So, too, something substantial was loaded into that question I heard and I pondered its significance.
Why am I here?
Because I am a vessel. A vessel is made for a purpose, with a particular use that it satisfies. So, what is my purpose, and how does writing fit that purpose? What draws me to learn what I can from other writers? There must be something in me that is fashioned by God for a purpose – something that will satisfy His will in my life.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God is not just a grantor of things that are already in our hearts; He is the actual giver of those desires. He plants the desire in us and then supplies what will be needed to fulfill it. The desire I have is God given.
Why am I here?
Because such a God-given desire cannot be restrained. The prophet Jeremiah tried it; he tried to stop speaking on behalf of God but found that his calling was like a “fire shut up in his bones.” The desire that God gives will eventually manifest itself. It’s the manifestation of that desire that draws us into the places where our gift can best be used. It’s the reason why I attend the writer’s meetings.
So, why am I here?
Most likely, to put wings to this desire. God has done His part and now He waits for me to do mine. Not to coast along but to be active. A dormant gift is useless and can only lead to a stifling frustration. It’s the equivalent of “hiding my light under a bushel,” and that’s definitely not what God wants. Yes, He gives the desire, but wants me to act upon it.
If I can keep these things in mind, I can move forward with the calling. The desire will take flight and accomplish what God intended. And that, indeed, is why I’m here.
Linda Rodriguez is a banker, musician, author and Southern Christian Writer board member.