Words Tangled Up in God

For me, faith, writing, and recovery are intrinsically connected. These three very different things are intertwined, tangled threads of a beautiful tapestry.

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I wrote my first stories as a young boy. Growing up an only child left me ample time to employ my imagination. Through the years, my writing benefited from excellent teachers and mentors, many of whom I did not realize were influencing my creative prose at the time. In those years, Marshall High had a stable of phenomenal teachers. Most of us, me especially, did not recognize how good they were at teaching us.

Attending Marshall High School, my writing profited from the solid teaching of Mrs. Douglas and Mrs. Muchmore. Although dramatically different in their style and approach, both were adept instructors molding my skills even before I fully recognized writing as my calling. A dear family friend recently remarked that she could see Mrs. Douglas’ DNA on the way I write, particularly in the manner that I craft sentences and in the very deliberate, intentional organization of my story. Mrs. Muchmore served as one of my earliest encouragers, lauding the words I put on paper.

My Great American Novel should already be complete by now. But, it isn’t. Life threw me some unanticipated curve balls. That really irks me because I pride myself on my ability to anticipate. However, life takes detours in between here and now. All is not lost, albeit that it is different. Over the years I have managed to write a batch of stories, poems and even a couple of plays. My publishing success has been limited. I chalk that up to being my own fault.

The past three years, as a member of our local writers group, the Writers Guild of Texas, and through creating content for this blog, I have been able to rekindle my craft. It has not be easy. At times, it has been really rough. Telling a story isn’t simply a matter of putting a bunch of words on paper. Writing is a craft. Writing is a calling.

Like me, my writing has changed. I’m not the same writer that I was a quarter century ago. I’m not the same person. What I cared about writing about then isn’t what I care to write about now. But I still have stories to tell. Getting to know Jesus has affected my writing. For me, writing has very much become a form of worship. It has even become a means of ministry.

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Similar to my journey of faith and recovery, my writing remains a work in progress. Words can change the world. I believe that God uses the stories we tell for the good of His kingdom. At least, I believe He can. I don’t write in a vacuum. God has a plan for my writing. Sometimes, I am fortunate that He lets me in on it. But as is true with ministry most of the time, I simply need to be obedient and remain faithful in this creative calling.

Recovery impacts my storytelling too. The stories I care about clean and sober are not the same that appealed to me when I wrote drunk and high. Thankfully, sobriety has permanently altered my perspective. For me, I write with a greater purpose.

Faith, writing, and recovery. These 3 things remain intricately linked.

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Photos courtesy of Pixabay.

Papa Hemingway, Me, and The Old Man and the Sea

The past week I have been catching up with my old friend Ernest “Papa” Hemingway through reading his classic “The Old Man and the Sea”. Written in 1951 and first published in 1952, it is his final major work released during Hemingway’s lifetime. In this short novel, Papa Hemingway tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman named Santiago who, down on his luck, finds himself entangled in an unyielding, excruciating battle with a massive marlin in the Gulf Stream, a current stretching from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up the East Coast and beyond. The elderly fisherman demonstrates a great deal of tenacity to supplement the knowledge and skills he has acquired over the course of his lifetime on the Sea.

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I first read Hemingway ages ago as a youth enthralled by the places and events relayed through his economical, understated prose. It was easy to lose myself in the pages of  “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Sun Also Rises”, and stories like “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. Along with Steinbeck and Twain,  Ernest Hemingway stoked my desires to pursue becoming a writer. It continues to be a dream that I chase and to date has yielded a stack of folders and notebooks filled with stories, plays, and unresolved ambition. Naturally, there have been detours along the way. But like all of us, I press on. 

All anyone is required to do to become a writer is write. But rest assured, writing is hard work. Putting a few words on paper is the simple part. Weaving a story that keeps readers tuned in and turning pages demands skill and a good combination of head and heart knowledge. Being a writer calls for unwavering persistence and the willingness to type on through the hills and valleys life brings our way. 

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The story of “The Old Man and the Sea” is one of courage and dogged determination as well as a tale about an elderly man coming to terms with his life drawing to an end. Perhaps that is the story’s appeal. Our lives call us to muster courage and remain persistent, all the while marching toward our date with death. For me, I think I always appreciated Hemingway writing about matters of the soul. Much of Papa’s writing is rife with spiritual overtones. “The Old Man and the Sea” is no exception. Santiago—“the Old Man”—is a character fighting an epic battle with a  beast of Biblical proportions. He will either overcome it or it will overtake him. Who wins in the end? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out. 

As Scripture teaches us, in our difficulties we come to realize our sufferings produce perseverance and that perseverance builds character, and character yields hope (Romans 5:3-4, NIV).

To God be the Glory~”TDG”

P.S. Praying for all our family, friends and the folks down South living along the Texas Coast as you weather the onslaught of Harvey. May the Lord keep you and bless you one and all.

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Romans 5:3-4 (NIV):

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

 

Photo(s):

Original photos by Rainer Bantau Photography ©2017 

Other Photos courtesy of Pixabay 

All Photos edited with Pixlr.