“The faults are obvious here, but let’s also look for what’s good…” This must be Jim’s philosophy on life, for as the mentor of our Christian writers’ group, he blesses our sessions by patiently uncovering treasures in our humblest efforts, and inviting the rest of us to unearth them too.
“Writing enables us to reach people with the gospel beyond our personal contact, but for our writing to truly connect, we need to tap into God’s double vision!”
“Double vision?” retorted Marlene, our doctrinal detective. “But God has perfect eyesight!”
The rest of us nodded our agreement.
“That’s right!” Jim replied, “so perfect that he sees through anybody’s facades!”
We kept on nodding, as Jim continued…
“He also sees what anybody can become. The religions of Jesus’ day kept God out of ordinary people’s reach, but he released healing, truth and love; right in their midst. And they flocked to him because he inspired fresh hope for everyday life.
“Let’s note the most inspiring things we hear people say during this week; and next meeting will be our first group article.”
That week my life turned to monochrome, despite my ‘inspiration radar’ being on full alert. No blips were detected.
Heading to the group meeting, my radar still blank, I called at my daughter’s home - forgetting the inconvenience of bath-time. But I stepped up to the plate to help dry the baby, just as his snuffly-nosed brother moved in to tickle him.
“No, Jason,” I said, carefully nudging him away, “You shouldn’t touch him while you have a cold.”
“But grandpa, I don’t have a cold in my hand!” His puzzled protest was heartfelt.
Hope sucked his comment into my memory as I drove away soon afterwards…
But hope was receding as I saw our group members’ efforts to relax, sitting back with coffee cups in hand, but all bursting to share the pearls they’d gleaned.
Glancing around the circle, Jim paused and caught my eye. “Tonight we’ll discuss inspiration; and Hank, you look like you need inspiring. What have you heard?”
Aware that proud grandparents can occasionally detect their own bragging, I hesitantly related my exchange with Jason.
“Fantastic!” Andy’s voice surprised us, since enthusiasm is not his closest neighbour. But with eyes shining, he expanded: “Little kids can’t grasp how infections spread, even from affectionate contact; but this matches how sin infects whatever we do!
“We should warn people about misplaced trust, and judgement! About how nations reject God, and...”
“Yes, but we also need to include God taking that judgement on himself, through Jesus’ death and resurrection,” added Marlene.
“With new life on offer, as we receive him into our lives!” Sharon, our most-recently converted member, was sharing her freshness.
Discussion bounced around the group, until Jim lifted his hands, smiling.
“Can you now imagine the gospel writers praying and wrestling over Jesus’ words and eye-witness accounts? How they opened their hearts and minds to God? How they were paradoxically absorbed and liberated by God’s Spirit as they recorded and shared the living truth of the gospel?
“Their inspired truth shares a common witness that neither distorts nor reduces their individual personalities and insights. Inspiration literally means giving life or breath; unlike manipulation or brainwashing; which bind people into inflexible mindsets or methodologies.
Then he smiled in Andy’s direction. “You’re right about how pervasive sin is, but people who know they are already trapped need to find some hope.
“They need to know that God’s counter-attack is even more pervasive. Jesus described this positive infection in John 7:37: about rivers of living water flowing through us into the lives of those around us. Then they may discover God’s double vision – as they are and as they could be: free, refreshed and cleansed. Just by receiving Christ, regardless of whether they look or feel like they deserve it at all.
“And there’s no limit to the spread of this infection, for these rivers outnumber our ability to monitor them.
“While we explore God’s call on us to write, we share his pleasure as our gifting matures. But he also enjoys blessing others through us without our knowledge – or our permission! Which is just as well, for our pride or our curiosity might get in the way.”
The session included other members’ stories, but that night I left with greater gratitude for Jim, for Jason, and for fresh insights into God’s amazing grace.
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