One of the problems with the internet, and especially social media, is that there isn’t a lot of room to say anything. Tweets are limited to 140 characters and are just glorified soundbites, tiny excerpts, or very small doorways into very small presidential minds. Facebook now diminishes your font if you go over the same quota, and it isn’t very long before you hit the limit that means readers will have to click on the dreaded “see more,” and of course, most won’t bother.
Emails are meant to be concise and so blogs are perhaps the last bastion of real writing on the net. But writers are even encouraged to keep these short, for fear of losing the attention of those all-important followers. Have you noticed, as well, that “articles” in online newspapers barely deserve the word, being, quite often two or three hundred words spliced here and there by adverts?
Is it any wonder then, that the attention spans of the young, trained to talk in predictive text, are shrinking, and that they can, often, barely get the words out? Is it a surprise that they struggle to express themselves? I know full well that the main reason I can form a long sentence (oh yes, I hear you cry, we know you can do that alright!) is because I’ve always been a reader. You don’t become a writer, certainly not a half-decent one, without a passion for reading.
What has this to do with Lakelight? Well, it has to do with our heart for God’s Word and for saying what needs to be said. It has to do with a whole ethos which is not about counting anything except maybe blessings. Because God’s outpourings are generous and abundant. I’ve been a very sick woman for the last twenty years, and yet, God has been pouring out stories and seeings, pictures and prayers through me that arrive in such torrents I don’t think I’ll ever get them all written out even if I live to be a hundred. And when I tentatively suggest to him that I’ve probably got enough to keep me going now, he opens up his storehouses and his magnanimous heart, and gives me even more!
Truly, my cup runneth over. Not with worldly things, possessions, influence, health or money, that’s true. But spiritually and in the world of words and art, I often sense that living water, that wellspring that Jesus said would flow out of a person’s “koilia” (John 7: 38) meaning inner place, belly, soul or even womb, is constantly rising. I’ve not had children, but I am having books, and I mean to give them all the space they need.
The same goes for how much time is given. I was in a church once where the edict was pronounced that people were to have ten minutes maximum in ministry time, because it was taking too long. If you need longer than that, we were told, then you have a bigger problem than we can deal with in prayer and we’ll have to arrange a longer session outside of the service. Quite how that longer time was going to be given was not discussed. I was rather horrified. Not because I ever took that long when I was well enough to stay for prayer ministry, but because putting time limits on God and on people’s needs is just wrong. So is assuming you know what God can do with very little. I’m all for guidelines on sermon lengths, believe me, because some of them would have trouble being condensed to 140 characters of any real meaning, and others are wonderful and need to be expanded into a series. But measuring out ministry?
With God, things take as long as they take. They are as big or small, as wide or tall as they need to be. Yes, we’re human and we have schedules. Nobody wants to read a blog the length of a novel, and those of us blessed to be able to get to church on a Sunday morning want to be home in time to get the roast in the oven. That’s understood. But within all of that there needs to be leeway, flexibility, openness. It’s okay to take time to say what you have to say. It’s okay to need more than a paragraph to pour out your heart. It’s good to feel heard and valued, and to experience and give out ministry without it feeling like a conveyor belt of neediness. It’s good to give God space to be generous. In my experience, when we do that, we may be flooded with blessings.
©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Photo from Pixabay