Credentials and Kerfuffles

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For the past few weeks, I have been preparing for a Christian writer’s conference due to take place mid-May in Estes Park. In the book proposal I am working on, one question I have to answer is: What credentials does the writer have that qualifies him or her to write this book? 

English/Lit major?

Nope.

High profile writer for popular online magazine?

Nope.

Low profile writer for newspaper in a dumpy little town out in the middle of nowhere?

Nope.

Formal education?

Uhh, sure. I think I’ve got four credits. 

Level of education?

Welp! I done gragitated a year early just so I could done get hitched, seeings how Ma wouldn’ta thunk of allowin’ me to run off with no Scotsman without no high school dee-ploma! Hee Hee Haw! 

*insert buck-toothed, hick from the sticks grin here*

Point is: I got nothin’. Or at least close to nothin’. No formal education, no high profile writing jobs. So I was forced to admit my piddly credentials: publication in a few book anthologies and online magazines, writing weekly for a church blog, and maintaining my own blog. Oh, and let’s not forget keeping up with my 479 Facebook friends and 347 Twitter followers, which are both very important to publishers and agents.

Sheesh. I walked away from filling out the proposal thinking perhaps I should be a social media specialist instead of a writer.

But then I realized something. I’m writing a book that is a story within a bigger story. It’s the story of specific, difficult (at best) experiences in my life that has ultimately led to finding purpose and meaning in Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection. In other words, what most qualifies me to write the book is that I’m a child of God.

The editor who will read my proposal won’t be looking for a book written by someone from the school of hard knocks whose only boast is in her Heavenly Father. At least not first and foremost. He will want tangible, impressive credentials, but most of what I have to offer is a simple testimony of how my life was shrouded in darkness, until that day when there was a kerfuffle between that darkness and Light, and eventually, Light won, continues to win, and will ultimately win.

The Apostle Paul also had a kerfuffle with Light on the road to Damascus. He came out of it stunned and blind – but with a completely changed heart. And what did he do in response to his changed heart? Well he made tents. But first and foremost, He preached. He wrote. He dedicated the rest of his life to spreading the Gospel.
It’s easy to look at Paul and say, “Well yeah, but he’s Paul!” As if Paul’s power came from someone mightier than we have access to … which is nothing short of a blatant lie from the pit of hell.

Paul and I serve the same God. The Light that he kerfuffled with is the same Light with which I’ve kerfuffled. And if God made a way for him to spread the Good News, then perhaps He will do the same for me. Does that mean a book deal and New York Times best seller is in my future? It could. But me of little faith tends to think it will probably mean a lot of upcoming rejection slips, or if published, maybe persecution from readers who don’t appreciate the truth. Maybe my sphere of influence is only here, with you. Maybe God wants the sphere to be enlarged, I don’t know. All I do know is that when the time comes to stand before God, I want to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Not “Depart from me, I never knew you,” after I’ve rattled of a list of credentials supposedly done in His name.

Earthly credentials are not bad in and of themselves. They’re only bad if they’re what we solely depend on to land a job, a book deal, or worse, eternal security. We should be working hard, yes. But more than that, we should be seeking Him and His kingdom first.

So what are you doing in grateful response to your kerfuffle? Is your heart so changed like Paul’s that you are moved to first and foremost spread the Gospel? Are you content with your story being within a bigger story, or are you trying to make your story the biggest, most relevant?

Lord, even after we experience an enlightening, life changing kerfuffle with you, our hearts can become hardened. We can become self-seekers, pushing our story to the front and leaving yours behind. Stun us again with your majesty, so that we might love to tell your story. Thank you for making us a part of your story, but motivate and cause us to always portray you, not ourselves, as the main character. We may never get a book deal or land a high-falutin’ job that way, but when we come before your presence, we will hear what our hearts are ultimately searching for: Well done, thou good and faithful servant. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord. (Matt. 25:23) 

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