Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson


Today I am re-entering the blogosphere. After months of work on a manuscript, Life Under An Open Heaven, it was sent off to the publisher at 11:17am yesterday (not that I noticed).

Everyone should write a book at some point in life, whether it is published or not. Writing has a way of forcing you to collect your thoughts, which tend to be scattered like fall leaves. I have found myself going back to stories, experiences, as well as past and present learnings. A portion of these are in this book. An experience on the Pend Oreille, an encounter on a bike, stories from ministry, times with God, as well as lots and lots of research on the gospel of John. All of these have come together and are poured out as passions, convictions, and focused thoughts.

Writing also gives one a certain reverence for words. We could use this. More than ever, we throw words around like useless trash. Words are cheap, so we waste them like water running from a neglected faucet.  Writing introduces you to the power and majesty of words. They are your main building blocks, and you begin to value each one for the incredible potential they have to unleash emotion, move the heart. The perfect metaphor is like gold. A verb that exudes energy is priceless. You take these working materials and build, working as a craftsman, an artist. You put them together in a way that you hope will cause the reader to pause, just to enjoy the beauty. This is what I feel when I read a book by Eugene Peterson or Barbara Brown Taylor. You marshal your resources together, hoping that for others this book will act as an ice-ax to break the thick craniums and let a writer come in.

Writing is an invitation to explore areas you never would have entered on your own. Include your story, but don’t write merely about yourself. Go beyond, way beyond. Life Under An Open Heaven was not my first choice. It was driven by publishers, but it pushed me in areas I would have never travelled. I was forced to go deep in a gospel I have tended to avoid most of my life. John’s approach and style is so different than mine. But I discovered Jesus in a whole new way.

My neighbor stopped me two weeks ago and said, “Tell me something good.” I told him I was almost finished writing. It started a conversation, one in which he asked, “So what did you learn?” And I told him that one main lesson was that who we want Jesus to be and who He actually is, are very different. It is not about coming to God with our expectations. It is about submitting to His. That sort of brought the conversation to a close.

Yes, writing can be maddening. There are writer’s blocks. There are creative slowdowns. Like the movie Stranger Than Fiction, there are moments you identify with Emma Thompson and want to jump off a building or drive over a bridge. Now that I am finished, I look forward to sleeping again. Words wake you up throughout the night. Reading will become a pleasure once again. To read and write at the same time is dangerous. You are always looking to lift words, stories, and phrases. You are never done until it is in the mail.

Still, it is worth it. So write, even if it is five pages left in a non-descript folder on a vacant shelf. Hopefully, someone will read it, and the ice will break.

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