A Lesson from Pompeii

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011Visit her website at www.vinemarc.com

The television screen flashed with images of human forms frozen forever in the throes of death. A man slumped and curled forward, his knees pulled to his chest, his face buried in his hands. Two skeletons obviously entangled in a lover’s embrace. A mother, clutching her child. The people of Pompeii.

The documentary on PBS then gave a dramatic rendition of what the last days and hours of that city may have been like, as the volcano rumbled and then erupted. The program was fascinating and chilling. I was especially struck by a scene in which a family prayed fervently before the shrines of their Roman gods – gods that could neither hear nor help them.

It’s perhaps tempting for us to think we would never do such a thing – never depend on that which was powerless to truly help us. Yet we do it all the time.

Writers are especially guilty I fear, as we get wrapped up in marketing hype and the advice of well-meaning experts who tell us we must bow down at the altars of ‘the platform’ and ‘social networking.’ All of us know such things are of use, and even necessary to a successful career. But what do they really give us for all our effort? They may result in more book sales – or not. They may make our name known in wider circles – or not. And in the end, what does all of that really mean? More books sold is an empty end if lives are not changed. The fame of our name is pointless if it is not connected to the only Name that matters.

I like to think of my work is terms of sowing the seeds that God can use to change lives. In order for that to happen I need to be bowing before God’s altar, worshipping in spirit and in truth. I need to ensure that His Spirit is flowing through me, into the words typed into my computer. I need to be relying on Him, and Him alone to accomplish all that He ordains for my work.

And I need to mean it. Mean it with all my heart and soul, mean it to the point of weeping for my readers. This idea hit me recently when I read a scripture I’ve read many times before. Psalm 126:5-6 – “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (NKJ)

I confess I’m not there yet. I haven’t wept for the salvation of my readers, nor for the healing of their emotional hurts and scars. But I want to be there. I want to care as much as Jesus does. But it’s hard. A lot of distractions get in the way. Things like platforms and social networks. So I keep praying for those moments, moments when tears do fall as I write, and the groanings of my heart have to be translated by His spirit.

Then I take heart with scriptures like Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (KJV)