God Needs Your Art.

IMG_2321Slipping off to adult summer camp for a week is one huge benefit of being a Christian. I came home yesterday from the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, brimming with the joy of the Lord and holding the business cards of three agents and four publishers who asked to see my book.

I had a large time.

Mt. Hermon is a 107 year-old Christian conference center, nestled among the Redwood trees, high in California’s Santa Cruz mountains. It’s a place bent on reminding weary adults how alive and organic Jesus was when we were kids. Just breathing under those giant centurions robed in red bark is a relief I didn’t know I needed, like stepping off a crowded street into a store playing Bach.

At Mt. Hermon, Jesus is taken seriously in the best way possible.

In between pitching our stories to agents and editors, we gathered to sing and pray, remembering that while we are all building writing careers, Jesus is the foundation.

At Mt Hermon it doesn’t sound weird when strangers stop you and say: “You know you’re glowing right? The spirit of the Lord is all over you.”

Nor is it strange when someone promises to pray for you, but then rethinks it, sets down her coffee and does it on the spot, praying a rangy, open-sky prayer that echoes something you were thinking five minutes before.

At Mt. Hermon creativity is treated like the gift it is. At each gathering, the person known to be the funniest delivers announcements while some marketing-department creative explodes with a little audience-participation stage art.

IMG_2331I’ve wandered through a lot of wilderness since I decided to follow Jesus, but at Mount Hermon, I finally found the meadow I was looking for. I was perfectly myself there and perfectly peaceful at the same time. This is no small thing.

The good news is: God is no respecter of persons, so you can do it too.

All the creative energy relegated to your daydreams is there for a reason. Use it. Or as key-note speaker McNair Wilson said:

“What if you really are as magnificent as God made you to be? If you don’t do you, you doesn’t get done and God’s creation is incomplete.”

Jesus is the foundation for everything I want to build, but that wasn’t always the case. I built many high-maintenance structures without him, but they were shifty and eventually crumbled. What I’m doing now satisfies me in ways I can’t explain without crediting Jesus. He is the reason I write.

So, what are you born to do? What daydreams are trapped by your cubicle? Need some practical tools for freeing them? Mt. Hermon gave me a bunch, I’ll share next week.

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What Is Your Gift?

fall 2005 036I’ve been typing and editing away all week, getting ready for the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Santa Cruz, California.

It’s hard to unpack all the reasons I’m excited about this: Drinking wine with old friends, cavorting among the Redwoods, smelling the Pacific, but mostly I’m thrilled to be taking another step toward what I’m meant to do with my life. It is such a relief.

The Apostle Paul told the Romans, the gifts and call of God are irrevocable, so maybe that’s why I get cranky and anxious when I’m not writing enough.

Until I started reading The Bible, I didn’t understand that while I am capable of many things, I am best at one thing, and God’s got a plan for it. I just have to cooperate.

At Mt. Hermon, they seem to get that. Not only do they round up the publishing industry folk, but everybody gathers to sing and praise the Lord first thing in the morning. It’s as though networking with God is the foundation for networking with anyone else. Evidently, at Mt Hermon somebody decided to take Proverbs 16:9 seriously:

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

For the last eight years, I’ve had a career in corporate insurance sales. That’s what happens when you don’t bother to let God establish your steps. I could do it, but I wasn’t made to do it. When I surrendered my stubborn streak to the Lord, I began writing. On Thursday, I’m getting on a plane with a completed manuscript in hand.

So, even if you have to use your gift on the side of everything else, get busy and do it. Next week we’ll work up strategies for how.