Skip to main content

can I borrow your pen?

This is from the brief talk I did on Sunday night which arose from thoughts I had on the subway that morning. Just as a side note, I handed out pens to every person in the room present. You might want to have a pen in your hand as you read this.

I have been thinking about authority this past weekend, mostly because some things happened in the past few days that put me in an uncomfortable position, and when I asked God about it, he showed me that I had given my authority away. I mulled the word "authority" over in my mind a bit and realised that it contained the word "author." [1] An author is one who writes or creates a story. He controls what happens in each scene. We have this author-ity in our own lives. We write what happens. We create our life story. We each have our own pen.

Now, some people may try to grab the pen out of your hands and write what they want to see take place in your life. That's not a good thing. They have no right to do that. Don't let someone steal your pen. However, you can give someone your pen and ask them to write a page in your story, but you want to be careful whom you lend your pen to.

At this point in the talk, I asked Dean for his pen and he gave it to me, a bit more reluctantly than I had hoped, but he gave it nonetheless. And this is what I said I would write in this life: that he would know and experience the presence of God in every moment of every day in every activity that he found himself doing. I wrote that every hole and gap and empty place in his life would be filled with the love of God and he would live in that all the days of his life. And then I gave the pen back. The smile on his face let me know that he was glad he had trusted me with his pen.

Giving someone else your pen can be a very good thing because they can write things we cannot. They can buoy up a weak storyline and get us past writer's block and fill out scenes that needed help. The best thing we can ever do is to offer up our pens to God, because he has things he wants to write into our lives that we cannot even imagine or dream of: dynamic scenes that move the story forward in leaps and bounds, wonderful characters that enrich our lives, and tender intimate love scenes that melt our hearts. God is the ultimate author.

One of the hardest things in life, if not the hardest thing one will ever try to do is to live a life that remains focused on God over the long haul. We tend to have good intentions, but not follow through on them. We run forward, then fall short. We have periods where we feel close to God and everything is going great and a short while later, something has become between us and the connection is weak. It takes tremendous continual effort to stay on the narrow path where communion with Jesus happens every moment of our lives, where life develops in cooperation with God the way it was meant to.

Everything will try to distract us. Everything will try to lead us down a different path. We so quickly turn aside to something easy and temporary instead of choosing the more demanding, long-term option. Everything inside us will groan and complain that this is too hard, and that we just can't do it right now. And in fact, that's true. This is something we are quite incapable of doing. We cannot keep up this pace of staying in step with God. We cannot track with God, but God is always tracking us (what a relief) and we can respond to him. We can always respond to the lover of our souls when he calls to us (which is more often than we realise, I think). We are always capable of writing YES with our pen.

Here's a familiar part of Matthew that talks about authority:

The moment they saw him [Jesus] they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. (this is where I find myself all too often) Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." from Matthew 28, The Message

1. Undeterred: It is not so much that we must remain undeterred in our lives, but that we learn to stick to Jesus who is never deterred and never loses focus and will point us in the right direction. Plus, he was given his author-ity from God, so that means he's got a REALLY big pen and can help us write the ultimate life story.
2. Train/Instruct: If we have learned anything about walking with Jesus, we must teach it to someone else. In fact, everyone we meet should be learning something about this life with God just by interacting with us. This is to be a vital and important part of writing our life stories, and it is how we positively impact other people's stories.
3. With: God is always present with us. He is tracking us. He does not leave us on the blank page alone, trying to figure out what to write next. If we want to stay on track over the long haul, we need to know that he is ever present in our lives (more than we know or feel or understand) and always waiting for us to acknowledge him and respond to him.

Can God borrow your pen?

[1] I checked it out today and it is true, because here it is on According to French linguist Emile Benveniste, auctor (which also gives us English "author") is derived from Latin augeĊ ("to augment"). The auctor is "is qui auget", the one who augments the act or the juridical situation of another. Auctor in the sense of "author", comes from auctor as founder or, one might say, "planter-cultivator". Similarly, auctoritas refers to rightful ownership, based on one's having "produced" or homesteaded the article of property in question - more in the sense of "sponsored" or "acquired" than "manufactured".


Shelley said…
This is a cool way to look at the issue of boundaries. As in who is writing my story anyway?

I am sending this to a friend...
Tina said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina said…
i spent a considerable time on the phone discussing this very thing, with my friend brad, today. i have recently awakened to the realisation that my pen, initially torn from my grip ... has continued to stay in the hands of others, by my own volition. too many others have written the script of my life. my passive aggressive reaction to that has been to weave an intricate cloak of self-protection around myself. now that i'm in recovery from a significant crash and burn which resulted in this toxic way of doing/being - i'm amazed at how much despair one can feel over an extended period of time without dying from it ;) yet i am still here ... flailing about ... trying to be present ... wondering if i can trust the Author with His-story for me ... whether or not i can trust myself ... with anything beside self-protection and existence. your comments give me a sense that i am not alone, that it is not hopeless. thank you for the stick of kindling. i'll offer up a prayer for you as i place it on the altar today.
Heather said…
Great insight, Matte. Hmm...I may have opportunity to use this some time. May I?

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.


When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …