Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)
TITLE: Positioned to Listen
By Terry R A Eissfeldt
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The day, however, began unexpectedly. As I walked toward the doors of the auditorium, a man and woman approached me.
“May we pray for you?” Brenda, according to her name tag, looked directly into my eyes. That was a bit unnerving. The eyes are the window to the soul after all and I wasn’t sure I wanted a complete stranger looking into mine.
“Uh,” I stuttered, “sure.”
Their hands were on me like bees on honey.
“Father,” Brenda prayed fervently, “grant our sister insight into Your heart. May she be refreshed and revived. Amen.”
“Amen,” her partner echoed. They smiled at me then turned to find the next attendee to bless.
After gathering my registration package, I found a seat. One of my favorite worship leaders opened the first session. I closed my eyes and let the music wash over me. Though I mildly resented the prayer for refreshing and revival, Brenda was on the money. For months I had given, served, lead, and poured out.
It was refreshing to receive.
“You found me in the valley, the valley of dry bones...”
This phrase kept going through my mind. The song being sung, by the five hundred or so worshippers around me, was celebratory. How did this phrase penetrate the dancing, flag waving, and shouts of joy around me?
Too often I’d put off the still small voice because it wasn’t convenient to stop what I was doing to jot down random phrases or ideas. But now I wasn’t driving, showering, or watching my favorite TV show.
I sat down, reached for my journal, and began to write.
You found me in the valley, the valley of dry bones.
You picked up all the pieces and carried them home.
You put me back together, one joint at a time.
You clothed me in flesh then breathed in Your life
I’ve grown in Your presence I’ve learned from Your word.
I’ve tasted and seen that You are good.
But in my daily struggles I’ve lost some of Your life.
I need a revival. I need Your breath of life.
Breathe, oh breathe in new life.
Fill me, fill me one more time.
I need, I need to be revived.
Oh, breathe Your breath of life.
The complete song was before me: verses, chorus, melody and tempo. All firmly committed to memory despite being surrounded by other sounds. I thanked Father, put pen and paper down, then rejoined the multitude in adoration of the King of Kings.
As I walked to the next session: a songwriting workshop led by an internationally respected songwriter, I was pumped. I just received a brand new song straight from Father!
The shuffling and chatter ceased as B--- took his place at the front of the class. All breathlessly waited in anticipation for the wisdom and insight he was about to share.
“Good morning,” he cleared his throat, “First off I’d like to say that you cannot expect God to download a song straight to you. Writing songs, whether for the secular market or for the church, is hard work. You must craft each phrase, each word, each note.”
He continued explaining different song structures, chord patterns, and the wisdom of sending your lyrics to a Master of Divinity in order to guard against teaching heresy.
I tried to concentrate but I was confused. Did the song I just wrote need to be crafted? I gazed at the hastily scribbled words. It seemed so complete. I would try when I got home.
I crafted, edited, and worked each phrase, word, and note. After an agonizing hour wrestling the dictionary, concordance, thesaurus, and my guitar, I brought the song to the family room.
“Hey, Jess?” My sixteen-year-old daughter was watching CSI, “Can you listen to this song and tell me what you think?”
“Sure,” she muted the noisy commercial.
I played the crafted song.
“Hmm, I like the message, but it seems a bit... forced.”
“What about this?” I played the original.
I told her about my songwriting journey.
“Anyone can craft a song, Mom,” she said, “But when God gives us something, many times it’s perfect already. We just have to be available to receive it.”
Different skills can be learned but maybe the first skill in writing is being in a position to listen?
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