I was telling a friend the other day that I tend to be more of a journey than a destination kind of girl. So the best things about putting together this recent compilation of short stories were the lessons I learned along the way.
Having the chance to help edit a publication with three other authors was enlightening. We are proud of our final product. But during the editing process, having our work side-by-side would occasionally bring our failings and weaknesses into vivid relief.
Guess which of us had to change the names, locations, or backgrounds of characters in our stories because they were too similar to someone else’s idea? The answer is: each of us.
Just when we thought our descriptions were unique and illuminating, at least one other author used that descriptor in the same context, and back the story went for revision.
Each of us has pet words and phrases we unconsciously and frequently use. How simple it was to spot those issues in another author’s work, and how nearly impossible to see it in our own.
It all reminded me of an essay by Nancy Scott, which I read more than ten years ago, but it stayed with me. It’s called Believing Together and includes these words:
“This is the ultimate promise of the gospel: not that we will have power over our sin here and now, but that we will see it more and more clearly, that the Spirit will help us recognize our sin and own it. We will fail and stumble and blunder our way through this life all the way to the Kingdom. But, by God’s grace, our failures will serve to secure our hope in the promise and to grow our trust in Him to get us there. And, by His gracious gift, He may even give us a community of people with whom we can stumble and find mercy along the way.”*
Scott goes on to write that “doing church” can look different in varied times and places, but the similarities are constant: a community of believers coming together, reflecting our best and worst to each other, forgiving and re-giving grace, growing in the same direction, always reminding each other of our common love and hope.
God has taught me to delight in this journey, this stumbling and blundering and finding mercy in my fellow believers’ hands and hearts along the way. But ultimately, my joy is a product of the hope I have for our future, for the moment we see Him face-to-face. As much as I love words, I live for that day when words will not be adequate to describe the God we see before us except, perhaps, for a "hallelujah." In that way, I guess I am a destination girl after all.
*Nancy Scott, http://msc.gutenberg.edu/2004/03/believing-together/, reprinted by permission from News & Views, a publication of Gutenberg College, www.gutenberg.edu