There’s this book I love. It was published in 1980, when I was 5, and I discovered it in 2010, when I was 35. My copy is all marked-up and very well-loved. It’s called Living More With Less by Doris Janzen Longacre.
I pulled it out today to look for some quotes for a project, and I started reading it all over again. The book opens with a few journal entries from the author. The first two are dated January 10, 1979 and January 15, 1979.
And when you learn that she died on November 10 of that same year, before she even finished her manuscript, it makes these words all the more powerful.
Her words were especially poignant for me today, as I work on final, excruciating edits/revisions of my new e-book about Cambodia. I so want these words to be from God. I so want to get this right.
January 10, 1979
This morning I want to begin writing the opening chapter of my book…
Lord God, unless you write the book, I write in vain. Unless it’s your message, why should we bother typing, editing, going through months of work and piles of paper–then publishing and selling?
This morning I plead for your Spirit in my thinking. I know I’m not writing the Bible, but still there must be inspiration. Unless you sit beside me–in me–at that typewriter, not much will happen. By now I know myself well enough to believe that.
God, I don’t expect writing under your inspiration to be easy and fast and painless. My writing is always slow; it needs much revising. I’ll do that. But Lord, please let it sing with your message, your glory, your beauty!
Holy cow and Amen. I prayed her prayer out loud just a bit ago, did some more work on my e-book, I’m writing this post, then I’m going to pray it again and get back to work.
January 15, 1979
God, help me. I feel a strong dependence on you from day to day now that I’m actually writing. To tell of the lives of your people around our world–your poor–it’s such an enormous task. I don’t know how to do it. How can I help unconvinced people see that their lives actually do affect the lives of the poor?
(It’s like she’s inside my head!!!)
Another thing, God. Something in me rebels at reading and hearing more exploitation stories–more stories of suffering and repression. I want stories of hope, love, goodness. Maybe you’re showing me that somehow I don’t really want to enter into the suffering of others. Forgive me. My own suffering has been sharp, but not caused by hard, wicked people and not physically severe, so I know only a little. Let me be willing. I can’t write this book without being willing to enter in some way into the suffering of your people.
Thank you, God, for leading me to these words of inspiration this afternoon. What a gift. Just what I needed to remind me why I write, why it’s so important to do the hard work of getting words out there for people to read. A reminder that I may not even live to see the fruit of that writing. You’ve called me to be faithful, to do the task you’ve set before me. Give me grace and wisdom and just the right words.