Thursday, March 24, 2016

“The unmistakable mark of divine contrivance”

“Event after event has the unmistakable mark of divine contrivance,” writes Lawrence Kushner. Divine contrivance! He writes about recognizing “it is all the doing of the Holy One.” (Eyes Remade for Wonder).

Kushner was writing about what was true in Biblical times, yet it’s still true in our times—but we often overlook the ways God is with us in our everyday comings and goings.

Too frequently we fail to recognize He’s busily at work—that He has the big picture in mind and is taking steps to make important things (often disguised as small details or coincidences) fall into place.

Memoirists need to catch glimpses of God at work. We need to notice His loving care and help in our tragedies and failures and heartaches—our huge defining moments (or months, or years)—but also in our day-to-day activities and relationships and opportunities.

And so, today I hope and pray the words below will stir up story ideas for your memoir—that they will lead you to think deeply and discover “divine contrivances” and “doings of the Holy One.”

Before you read these words I have compiled for you:
  • get out a pencil and paper (or sit down in front of your computer),
  • read the first quote slowly,
  • ask yourself what experience (yours or someone else’s) it reminds you of,
  • and jot down a few notes.
  • Read the rest of the quotes, doing the same exercise listed above,
  • then use your notes to craft stories for your memoir.

Okay, let’s get started with the quotes: 

“God has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

“When I looked back at the years of struggle, I realized they all took part in the beautiful pattern that became my miracle and it would not have been possible without the struggle.” (Lene Fogelberg)

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” Walt Disney

“Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking)

“We are all brave men and we are all afraid, and what the world calls a brave man, he too is brave and afraid like all the rest of us. Only he is brave for five minutes longer.” (Alistair MacLean)

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).

“Do it trembling if you must, but do it!” (Emmet Fox)

“We are all travelers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world… and the best that we can find in our travels is an honest friend. He is a fortunate voyager who finds many.” (Robert Lewis Stevenson)

“It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. To do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life.” (Oswald Chambers)

“God is already working on Plan B even as Plan A lies in shambles around your feet.” (John Claypool)

“It’s one thing to say God is a way-maker. It’s another thing to see Him make a way.” (Tony Evans)

“'Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?' declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24a).

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” Mary Oliver

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5).

What we need is a hope that’s more than wishful thinking or blind expectation that everything will work out smoothly. We need a hope that is vibrant in pain, consistent in grief, indefatigable when people break our hearts, unassailable in disappointment, and unflagging in life’s pressure…. True hope… does not come from searching for hope. It grows out of two basic convictions: that God is in charge and that He intervenes.”(Lloyd John Ogilvie, God’s Best for My Life)

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life or death to you.” (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

“…Our Lord never wastes times of testing. The pain and struggles and confusion connected with my circumstances only seemed futile and unfair.” (Charles R. Swindoll, Come Before Winter and Share My Hope

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

Notice God
doing major things
during momentous, life-changing events,
but also search to discover
God doing major things
in what you thought were everyday,
even trivial,

“Father…You met me
at every fork of the road
with clear guidance
and fresh grace.
I beheld Your glory.”
(Lloyd John Ogilvie, Quiet Moments with God;
emphasis mine)

Your stories are important. Your memoir can be a life-giving handbook.
It can offer readers:

hard-earned wisdom, 
a hand up, 
a warning, 
a smile, 
a good cry, 
a more meaningful life, 
a solution to a problem, 
help in making a decision, 
faith in God, 
determination to keep a promise, 
and so much more.

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