Last week you should have been here on Kodiak Island. The sun shone like the Sahara and people ran around in sun dresses and tank tops. These are people usually dressed to the chin and ankle in multilayers of Grundens, Carhardts, X-tra Tufs and Guy Cotton (and therewith I name the four clothing groups of Kodiak).
Sally has freckled legs? Gus has calves? Mara has tanned shoulders? Andrew has ankles? And someone please put pants on that fisherman in Bermudas with luminously pale hairy legs! (Oh wait. Those are my legs.)
But of course what a miracle, for Kodiak Island to have sun like this!
I haven’t been out in it though. I’ve been living like a prisoner. I’ve spent the last 5 days alone, inside, writing 11-12 hours a day, until my brain, fried, fell out and my eyes swelled to slits, and my hands cramped. I stopped long enough to cram scrambled eggs down my throat and to pump coffee and kombucha.
But look what I’ve got!
I finished the first draft of a script and the outline of a new book. I can't wait to tell you more about it as it starts. (It involves a film crew out on our island taping Ann Voskamp and I--and 20 writers.)
Here’s what I've come to say this week. Most people think being religious, going to church, being “Christian” means following rules. They think it means voting for a certain political party. They think it means living a mean hard intolerant life, like the grim characters cast in Hollywood’s movies, when their movies include a token “Christian.” They’re either that or they’re just plain from-Mars cuckoo. Either stereotype concludes the same: Not fun people. Not a fun life. An abstemious life. A harsh suppressed virginal life. At best, a dutiful life, not a spontaneous joyful life.
But I am joyful. I am buoyant. And I know lots of Christians who are. I am joyful though I have such stacks and loads of work to do---people waiting for words, classes, food---and I give up Kodiak sun to do it. Happily. I’m giving up some of my favorite summer things this week, this month.
I am working like a prisoner, like a slave. I do this often----and I love it. Even when I'm tired and hating it. Because I get to speak to people and share the best news I know, news that keeps changing my life--and maybe others' too? And because maybe I will write something that lightens someone else’s load?
The Apostle Paul called himself "a slave for Jesus Christ," and if we're lucky, we're all His slaves. And Here is just one piece of the strange happy news of the gospel. Everything God asks us to be and to do, he enables us to do. He gives us joy to do. It’s what we want to do. I want to give stuff up to do better stuff. This work that overwhelms me often is yet a glad burden that wakes me up each morning and skips me through my day.
But it’s not all easy, being a Jesus-person. Especially for Christians in other countries who are routinely persecuted and killed because of who they love and serve. This is the ultimate price to pay. For us, in the West, our struggles are smaller. But still, Forgiveness is not easy. Loving our enemies is not easy. Going the extra mile for a stranger is not always easy. But so much of what our Father asks of us, he makes easy.
(Remember when the baby cried in the night----again? You thought it was so hard to get up----again. And it was. But it’s harder to stay in bed, yes? Remember forgiving your husband---again?And deciding you would not build walls against him. No, not easy, but this is what Love does. It turns us inside out and sideways-over so that obeying and doing for others is our delight even when it hurts.)
We’re Christians because we believe Jesus is real and true, and it also happens that it’s the best life we know.
It can be yours as well. Jesus wants to take your burden. He wants to make a swap with you.
“Come to me, all of you who are tired with heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 New Century Version (NCV)
I hope you'll do it. There's no better life.
It's been awhile since I gave away some Wonder Years! I'd like to give FIVE away this week!
(Thanks to you all, "The Wonder Years" is headed for a third printing!)
To enter, would you do this? If you know people who need messages of hope, photos of wild Alaska, honest words from this pen, cultural commentary and hands pointing to Jesus, would you subscribe them to these weekly notes? Or just send their emails to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they can be added to the list. But please, ONLY with their permission!
Thank you friends. It is always a joy to share this space with you.