As part of a series on creativity in our church. I was asked to speak on using creative writing in worship. I opened with this spoken word.
Good morning, today I have been asked to speak on using words creatively to worship. There is so much I want to say which I won’t; so I wanted to start with a context of why I write – my history of how God has given and grown this form of creativity in me and what better way to start a talk on creative writing, than with a piece of creative writing!
As you heard I grew up loving wordplay and immersing myself in the way creativity with words can elicit a different response from my heart than just words that inform. Over the last 15 years of adulthood, I believe that Jesus has taught and is teaching me to use words creativity to honour him in a personal, Christian and public arena. For me, writing is reflecting Romans 12:1 which says
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Writing is doing this, it is part of who I am and so I offer it to God.
I express myself through words because I have to! God has made me an external processor; that means that to learn and process information it can’t stay in my head. It has to come out of me somehow for me to make sense of it. Where I choose not to speak or simply have no form to speak into, my thoughts flow out from ink to paper. This is in every area of my life – when I plan or process it has to done be externally.
Sometimes I simply write because it gives me joy! God inspires my imagination and it does me good to write, to create and envision. It is good for me and I hope the product also brings joy to you!
Romans 12 goes on and tells us
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement…
and if your gift is to write creatively… then write!
I remember the day my mum gave me a journal, I was a preteen with greasy hair, acne and my mum in her wisdom handed me a notebook and a pen as if it would help. Mum in her wisdom was right but it took years for my teenage turmoil to become a place of authentic, prayer and praise. Yet, the core of what I write in my journal remains the same, my heart expressed through ink; rhyme, stories, thoughts, letters, scripture, song… Just now I allow God to breathe life into it. Yet it started by learning to boldly come before Him and express in journaled words my true messy broken defeated heart.
I have learnt to bring to God all my words, and all the expressions of my heart and emotions spilt out. from that place, my heart unveiled before him, He has room to speak and to lift me. To ingrain truth, ground me and leave me certain in faith. It leads me to allow love and praise to grow not just for his gift of salvation to me but also for the work of Holy Spirit continuing to transform my life.
There are so many times I have come to God with my mess, with disappointment or with argument! Every time, He has slowed down my mind, helped me focus and led me out of that place and into his marvellous light; through reminding me of scripture. This not just my story; we see this process written all through the psalms and even in Lamentations were we see nearly three chapters of lament and then; the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning – Great is His Faithfulness! Honesty before God leading to truth and faith!
I believe God has given me wordplay as a gift to honour him personally but also to honour him through blessing others. Both those who know him and those who don’t. I believe He works through all our creativity in this way!
I believe God has given me this gift to fire truth like arrows into hearts. Truth of His Character, His kingdom, His plan of salvation for us. Observing life and speaking out the character and ways of his Kingdom into it as I learn what that is for me, as it helps me become more certain in faith and grows joy as I allow God to breathe into my gifting.
When I write into a Christian setting; I believe God is equipping me through creative writing to encourage certainty of faith, promote joyful unity. This is through embracing my gift dynamically, driven from a point of my relationship with Jesus. That is not to say everything I write directly mentions Him or even salvation but in everything I write, my desire is to declare good news and unlock peoples’ hearts.
Last year I was asked to speak in a school assembly on confession. As I began to write I asked God what does this audience need to know – because if you ask me, the word confession, as a teen would have only sounded like bad news. God reminded me of the fear I have had in confession and of a time when he showed me by his grace that confession could be a beautiful thing. I believe he led me to write it as a poem so it would connect with hearts in a softer way, coming across as good news, not instruction. This spoken word, I believe is an expression of worship:
God has made us communicators of good news, ambassadors of his Kingdom of joy, peace righteousness and much more. He has given us each skill and creativity to do this.
I remember writing my first blog post, hovering over the publish button and having to remind myself that the likelihood was, only my dad would bother to read it! Unlike my journal, I don’t share all the expressions of my heart into the public area. I believe to do so would be dishonouring to God. I often write during emotionally raw times or when I have been wounded. For others to read my pain in all it’s rawness would not be guarding my heart nor helpful to them. I literally allow every thought burden disappointment argument and fear to be released. Yet after a time, after the process, I may share some.
There is a phrase that we should share from scars not wounds, we share from healing not from our survival mode. What I share publicly is carefully curated with the guidance of Holy Spirit. When I share I first go to him asking what people need to hear or know. That is not to say I write from a place of completion or perfection but neither do I write from a place where I am not often clearly thinking. I do get it wrong, I am still learning. In my abstract style of thinking it is me pulling an arrow back to His eye and releasing it in the hope of hitting the target and sometimes I am a little outside. I am so thankful for his grace in those times.
But in pushing forward his kingdom there will be a battle
I remember writing my first song, I was in GCSE music and I wrote my testimony of all Jesus was doing in my life at that time. (I don’t think every song needs to speak of Jesus but I have not ever been able to write one without it, it is not my gift). Writing it out onto paper, aligning words with notation; it wasn’t great by all means, but it was my heart. Yet I remember the fear I held in allowing those words out into the public arena.
Creative expression us a vulnerable place to be and creative release can be shrouded in doubt and fear. For us who creatively release in this way we are to guard our heart but for those who receive, yes there may be a time for critique but remember often part of the creator is woven into what we share. Be mindful of how you care for it. I am always looking for ways to grow but we all know the power words in our life. Choose to create life and not to pull down.
There’s one thing I don’t remember and that is when the demand for my silence began when the lie entered my mind that there is no point to what I am about to share, or that I have no significance or power. I have chosen to stay silent because of shame, weakness and fear. But I was created an external processor, who creatively expresses her heart
I was not made to be fearful,
Jesus’s blood has cleansed all my sin and shame and so when the enemy tries to silence my tongue I am not to retreat in fear but to step forward in love. Not the pink heart-shaped love but love that is powerful and fierce. His love for me, not my love for me. More than that God has equipped us through Jesus, to silence the enemy.
I believe God is calling us to take hold of all he has given us and to speak life into situations not retreating in fear but instead learning to silence the lies that fill our mind. All through from creation to the end we see Jesus using His words bring life and to silence that which is not of him. Therefore we, made in his image, are to be like him.
This is worship: to walk in the image of Christ,
to silence the enemy and to bring life!
Over to you – I would love to hear your thoughts, what inspires you to write?