Sunday, 9 June 2013

              The Text of My Life

There are moments when you suddenly realize that the details of your life are not an accident and that there is a Master Storyteller at work somewhere in the background, weaving together the disparate fragments of your past to create a plot fraught with purpose.

A few weeks ago I remembered something, and in the act of that remembrance had an awakening.

I recalled how in my second year training for the ordained ministry in Nottingham I befriended an American Methodist minister. He was at the same theological college but was studying for a PhD in Professor Thomas Torrance's theology. It was for him a truly demanding and taxing task.

Bob - that was his name - asked me to help him complete his draft. He knew I had been a scholar of literature and that words were (and are) my area of expertise. So he asked if I would edit his thesis on a daily basis until he reached the point where he was happy enough to submit it.

I remember well how we wrestled together with a theologian whose language was dense and demanding, and how I wrestled on my own with Bob's language, which was even more dense and demanding! In the end, after much sweat (in my case) and tears (in his), Bob was awarded his PhD.

Looking back, I can see what a significant moment that was not just for him but for me. I was in my early twenties, training to be a Vicar, but spending my time doing freelance editing. From Bob's point of view, I had the 'Midas touch'. I had a God-given ability to turn base texts into gold.

Today, after nearly thirty years in Christian ministry, I am now editing texts again. Indeed, since setting up my new business - - I have had the privilege of applying that Midas touch to many texts and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Alongside creating my own stories (through writing novels), I am helping good writers to become great authors.

In the process, I'm discovering who I truly am and what part of my purpose might be.

As if this wasn't enough, a good friend of mine recently introduced me to a radiant text in the Psalms.

I am, at the moment, delighting in the Psalms anyway because they remind me of a stunning truth about God's grace - that our follies and our falls do not disqualify us from excelling in the area of writing. In fact, some of David's best songs were composed on the back of his worst decisions.

While this is not a license to make catastrophic errors of judgment, it is a saline drip of life-giving help for the vast ranks of broken and wounded soldiers in God's army.

It tells us that our crushing can be the crucible for our finest creativity.

So I was already feasting on the songs of David when my friend said, 'have you seen the Message version of Psalm 18.24?'

When I said 'no,' he read it to me:

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm alert to God's ways; I don't take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works.
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

When my friend spoke those words over my life I immediately sensed hope rising in my broken soul - hope that there is meaning in my mess because the Divine Hand is rewriting the text of my life as I open up my heart to his scandalously compassionate and acutely penetrating eyes.

And that's happening.

As I receive help from trusted others (particularly through inner healing ministry and regular professional counselling), I have started to see my past with the eyes of my Heavenly Father and, in the process, begun to trust him to edit and rewrite the text of my life!

And as that has started to happen, I have reflected on this.

Our Heavenly Father is the greatest editor in the universe!

When it comes to the text of our lives, he has the Midas touch.

He can remove paragraphs and improve chapters.

He can change point of view and develop characters.

He can beautify and rectify dialogue and description.

He can turn tragedy into comedy just as easily as he turns winter into spring.

And so I have come to see a surprising synchronicity between what he is doing and what I am doing.

I am editing other peoples' stories.

While he is editing mine.

'Selah,' as David would have said!