“For a fire will be kindled by my wrath, one that burns down to the realm of the dead below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains.”
I shook my fist and lowered my voice as I read from Deuteronomy. My friend looked up when I was done, stared at me blankly, “Are you writing another one of your little devotions?”
I scowled, but didn’t say anything. Inside, I was crushed. “Little devotions? Are you freaking kidding me? I don’t write devotions, do I?”
Fortunately, this didn’t kill the spirit and I continued to write, but little devotions crept around in the back of my mind. Is that what people think I do?
Numerous times now, I’ve had to ask myself, “Jake, why the hell do you write?” This question comes about more frequently than I’d like to admit. When it attacks, I run through the options:
1- Because I’m skinny, have thick, black glasses, like to read and it fits my persona?
2- Because I’m incredibly opinionated and think everyone should hear what I have to say?
3- Because I want to be influential?
4- Because I’m sexy and I know it? (wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle)
No, no, no, no, no…. I can change my “persona” anytime I wish. This whole, “I read books and think I’m smart or something” act could end any day. I think I might go for bro, next. I really am opinionated, but sometimes, that’s actually embarrassing. Influence? I think that’s an idol that rampages through today’s church. I have yet to meet a youth pastor, young leader or anyone else who’s incredibly involved in the church who doesn’t want to change the world- only they all want to do it from the pulpit, instead of getting down in the mud and trenches with the rest of humanity (that’s a rant all to itself).
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Jeremiah was pissed at God. He accused the Almighty of deceiving him. Then again, the prophet was having a terrible day. He’d been beaten and put in the stocks outside the temple- all for speaking God’s word (Jer. 20:1-2). Jeremiah was upset, but really couldn’t do much about it. He said,
But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
(Jeremiah 20:9 NIV)
Fire in his bones? I don’t think penicillin can fix that kind of burn. I wonder, if he kept quiet long enough, if he’d combust. Burnt hair is a terrible smell. Jeremiah grew tired of speaking God’s word because it frequently turned out so poorly for him. I think I would too. It almost sounds like torture on God’s part, but then again, God made the man with the exact purpose of using him to speak, so occasional goading is justifiable.
Am I comparing myself to Jeremiah or claiming to be prophetic? Heck no. I’m not nearly spiritual enough to experience fire in my bones and I’m convinced that if God wanted a mouthpiece, He’d find a nicer, taller person. But I read. I study and try to understand, and the dissonance between the Bible and my experience, the community and the stories of those around me freaks me out. Sometimes, it even makes me mad, then I want to start fires. So I write, hoping to fix perceptions in myself and others, if they choose to read. Occasionally, I like to be funny, too.
Sometimes, I worry that I’m beating a dead horse. But I don’t feel like I can stop. I’ll probably scream and howl “repent, reform and fix it, you idiots or I’ll stab you” until I die. In other words, the world might have to deal with this pain in the rear for a while longer. Maybe that’s it- I like being annoying, so I write.