Lately I’ve been hitting something of a wall in my writing. I kind of feel like Steve Martin in The Jerk, telling his family about his odd jobs. One way he had found to make money was to give blood, which worked out just fine until “I cut myself shaving and nothing came out but air.” Sometimes I sit down to write and nothing comes out but air. Hey, it happens I guess. It all goes back to the moment Adam shirked his duty not only to obey God, but also to love and protect his wife. The word is futility. We all know it well.
Farmers know what it is like to till tough soil, to toil over a ground that refuses to yield a harvest. Salesmen know what it is like to pitch their product over and over and over again only to see the door slammed in their face. Doctors know what it is like to misdiagnose an illness. Counselors know what it is like to be lost in a session. And writers run dry on ideas, become dissatisfied with their work and run into writers’ block. We all experience the effects of the fall on a daily basis, some days more than others.
Yesterday, I stood up from my computer and took a walk. I was getting nowhere anyway. I walked out in the Seattle rain, over to a lake and I was still, unproductive and calm. For the first time in a while, I was able to reflect. My thoughts went to community.
You know, none of what I write makes any sense outside of community, outside of conversation and outside of the body of Christ. Maybe that is a good thing, maybe not, but I think it is true one way or another. I was not made to write alone.
Back in Genesis there is another story about man and woman gone wrong. Here, the people of the world had the wrong idea of community. They thought they were there to help each other “make a name for themselves,” so they built a tower. This was not the plan that God had from the beginning, so needless to say, the tower did not last long. Community is not for accomplishment, for reputation or for banding together to supplement God’s rule and reign. Community is support for living our parts in the story of God.
So when a doctor is having a long and stressful week, he sits with the farmer and hears the word of God that speaks, at the same time, into both of their lives. When the writer cannot move a word, he grabs a cup of coffee with the salesman who cannot move his product and they speak and hear the word of God together. We are here for one another. As Bonhoeffer says, one day the Christ in you may be stronger than the Christ in me; another day the Christ in me may be stronger than the Christ in you. We embody the presence of God to one another to teach, to correct, to encourage and to mobilize.
And so yesterday and today, I have had the blessing of speaking with a few close friends and hearing the word from them. What little encouragement I have given them, they have given me more, or better, God has given me more through their simple words.
Today, seize the opportunity to live life together, telling yourself and your friends the gospel. God is for us.