There is nothing more intimidating to me than a blank page. I am a writer. It’s what I do. What I’ve done my whole life. Songs, poems, articles, TV shows, devotions, thoughts, quotes, sermons. I write. It’s part of who I am. For fifteen years living in New York City, I found a million places that inspired me…filled me with words that came so quick I couldn’t keep up with them. The streets, the people, the culture, the coffee shops, the noise, the brutal bustle of the City, the faces, the stories, the success and suffering of the concrete jungle. They were all a safe place for me. I knew if I could just walk outside my door I would find words. Words that inspire and heal. Words that give a voice to people whose pain had muzzled their heart and paralyzed their soul. Words that became tears they didn’t know how to cry. Words that injected life like drugs till they were hooked on hope. Words that made the dead breathe. I wrote for them. I wrote for God. I wrote for me. I wrote.
And then something happened. My life got flipped upside down for all the right reasons and suddenly I was packing my life into the back seat of a car rental and moving to Atlanta, Georgia to marry the man God had miraculously sent my way. Now here I was, trying to find my way in a City full of strangers…a place that was nothing like home, and planning a wedding all at the same time. The excitement of planning for the beautiful future that was to come and the grief of letting go of the life I had known, both coexisting in the cramped space of my soul. Something about the mixture of the ultimate joy and sorrow was too much for me to process simultaneously and the words just seemed to have vanished forever. There was not a single place in this new City that inspired me. I lost my words and for some time, lost the desire to find them. Writing was a big part of who I was and it seemed as if I’d left that part of me in New York City.
For 18 months in Atlanta, I travelled and preached more than I had every preached in my life. It was a sudden shift from being invited to places as a Spoken Word Artist, to now being invited 70% of the time as a preacher. I have no idea how that happened, it just did. There was no longer the pressure to create artistically. No big events to write for. No blank pages staring me in the face with a deadline.
And then, after those 18 looooong months in Atlanta, God abruptly sent my husband and I to Australia to Pastor the City Campus of Influencers Church. Another new place to conquer with barely a year of marriage under our belt. Trying to find a rhythm to write now in a Country where the people don’t even know what Spoken Word is. My schedule utterly overtaken with caring for people and leading and preaching. And by preaching, I mean writing more sermons in one year than I have in the past 5. I’m like really, God you sent me to a place that has no idea what my art form is and beyond that, they have no Starbucks?! Is this a sick joke? Starbucks is where the anointing is! You’ve left me here to die. And then I found some good coffee and came out of my white padded cell long enough to have a sane conversation with God.
That conversation went something like this: “God, my heart grieves at the thought that the season of me being an artist could be over. I miss it like a person. I can’t even think about it without choking back tears. You’ve given me this gift and it’s dying on the inside of me”. And after months of praying that same kind of prayer, I added this question: “Lord, am I grieving this gift because YOU aren’t done with it? Or is it because I”M not done with it? If I’m holding on to it for the wrong reasons and that season is done in my life then I need to know so I can bury it, grieve it and move on. I feel like I’m carrying something dead inside of my soul. Do I grieve it or revive it?”
For months that question went unanswered. Until several weeks ago. Sitting in a service, the preacher (Jabin Chavez) began speaking of the man who came to Jesus asking him to heal his daughter. (Luke 8, Mark 5 & Matthew 9) Unfortunately, after agreeing to do so, Jesus got a little distracted by a bleeding woman who pressed her way through a crowd to try to touch him. She made it and when she touched him, she was healed. Which was great for everyone except the dad waiting for Jesus to heal his dying daughter. In fact, as Jesus was being distracted, this father got word that his daughter had already died. Devastated, he tells Jesus not to worry about it because it’s too late. She is already dead. As he prepares to make that long journey home to mourn and comfort his family, Jesus interrupts his grief with a promise that it’s not over. And as Jesus arrives at the house full of loved ones weeping and wailing, He speaks these words that changed everything- they changed everything for this desperate daddy and have changed everything for me now. Into the sorrow He speaks, “She’s not dead, she’s just asleep”. That makes little to no sense to the people who were feeling her pulse and reporting that her heart was no longer beating. But in the truest sense of the word, Jesus was right. She wasn’t dead because death is final and He already knew the end of this story. Jesus refused to call dead what He planned to revive. In the eyes of man, Jesus just told a big fat lie, like seriously, the Lord’s pants are totally on fire. He said “She’s not dead”, yet according to all facts and evidence, medically speaking she actually was dead. But the thing about Jesus is that He is privileged to facts and evidence that aren’t evident. Realities we can’t see. His statement wasn’t based on the inactivity of her heart, but on the activity of his power to both see the future and to resurrect that which seems dead.
“Lord, do I grieve it or revive it? Bury it or perform CPR?” That was the desperate question that haunted my soul. And as I heard this story for the millionth time it was like hearing it for the first time ever as Gods Spirit was speaking directly to mine. Sitting on the front row, tears flowed without remorse. Finally, the answer cut straight to my heart…It’s not dead, it’s just asleep. This gift has seemed inactive, no inspiration, no words, no heartbeat, no breath. The people who have followed my ministry are probably as convinced as the people who were in that house that the artist and writer in me is dead. But Jesus has come to me speaking over their voices, into the sorrow and I believe Him more than I believe them.
To be honest, I started writing this well over a year ago; somewhere between Atlanta and Australia. So I’m writing today partly because it’s a blank page for me to conquer. But much more than that, because the thing that has grieved me most about the silence in my soul is that I know how many people are on the other side of my words. I know that God wants to revive this gift not for me, but for you. I don’t have a plan, I just have a revelation that it’s not dead, it’s just asleep. And what I’ve found to be true is that when it comes to God, the most powerful thing that moves his heart is when we are courageous enough to start saying with our mouth what He has said in our spirit even before we’ve seen it with our eyes. Agreeing without seeing, that is real faith. For some time it has seemed to me that the ink has run dry. But what I’ve forgotten is that I’m not the one writing this story anyway. I am just the pen, and I’m in his hand.
Maybe you are carrying around some dead weight as well. Dead dreams are so heavy to bare. Perhaps somebody else out there needs to be reminded that when Jesus is around there is always a chance for dead things to live. So before you make the funeral arrangements I pray you ask yourself this one question. What if it’s not dead, but it’s only asleep?
Album on Itunes “Oraia Speaks Volume I”