You see, I recently said that I would prepare a daily devotional for our church’s online Lenten devotional. Dan, our associate pastor who, as always, has done a phenomenal job with things, said that we should keep our submissions to one page (at most).
That’s a hard thing for me to do. It can take me a page just to say hello sometimes. Or to not say hello but just to say, well, nothing. I am the Seinfeld of writing I guess. “Hey, let’s write a page about … nothing!”
And I like skipped lines in my writing.
And … lots of ellipses. (That’s those three little dots to indicate either an omission or a pause. I was about 35 before I knew what they were called … even though I really liked to use them.)
But, there’s a lot to be said for concise writing. I have written before that, in college, I did some independent studies on fiction writing. In those, my goal was to always say as much as I could in as few words as possible.
But even at that the things I wrote ended up pretty long.
Of course, much as it pains me to admit this, my college days were just slightly before personal computers came into use. That may be why I tried to keep my writing as tight as possible. Everything I wrote had to be re-typed fully … draft after draft after draft. I did own a couple of memory typewriters in college and those were helpful. One of them printed only on thermal paper with a dot matrix printhead. Several of my profs complained about that.
And, the town newspaper for which I wrote had a “portable” KayPro computer which I would sometimes borrow and lug up the three flights of stairs to my dorm room. Of course, “portable” back then meant about 650 pounds of hulking machinery with a very small screen that glowed with either green or amber letters. I forget which.
I am getting old. Thinking back to our associate pastor I mentioned – Dan – I have to tell you, he’s a lot younger than me. I have huge respect for him though. That is a change which occurs with age. Pretty much through your twenties, it’s hard to have much respect for those younger than you. It’s a very “human” thing, I think, to just sort of naturally assume that those younger than you couldn’t possibly know as much as you do. Of course, up until your mid 20s you don’t have much respect for those older than you either. Sometime in your 30s though it starts to sink in that you’d better start having more respect for those younger than yourself. By the time you’re in your 40s, that is really a necessity as you start to realize that you’re quickly reaching a point where there are more people younger than you than there are older than you. Wow. That’s a painful reality check.
Anyway, write a devotional in one page (or less)? This was going to be tough. I am writing this in Word actually and I surpassed the one-page mark about ten lines ago at this point.
This has caused me to think, though, about the “purposefulness” of what we do. So far, I think it’s highly questionable whether the last 10 minutes of my life have had much purpose as I have typed this.
(Have I ever mentioned that I pretty much type with just two fingers? My two “middle” fingers oddly enough. Lisa was watching me type with rather bemused (or should that be “amused” … I am not going to take the time to figure that out right now) curiosity the other day. We talked some about why I use my middle fingers to type with. The answer to that was very simple. They are my longest fingers so they are the ones to hit the keyboard first. How could I possibly type with shorter fingers? That just doesn’t make sense to me at all.)
Anyway, in John 4:34, Jesus says “my food … is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (The ellipsis indicates the omission of “he said,” by the way.) But, wow, what a statement of purposefulness that is! How could we possibly be more purposeful than to think of our actions as being our “food” – our very “sustenance” – that which keeps us going? Nothing could be more purposeful than that! If right actions are to be that which feeds you, then you’re going to be pretty careful in making sure that every action is correct and has purpose, aren’t you?
What a great way to lead our lives! Always for the glory of God. Always striving to make Him greater and ourselves less. That sense of purposefulness could lead to a full life like none other. Gone would be the sitcoms and the pages of writing about “nothing,” all replaced by a single purpose – living out the life that God – our creator – placed us here to live out. And that, quite concisely, is a very good thing.