Adapting is Not an Option

author faithby Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

Dictionary.com lists two verbs under the word adapt. The first verb is used with an object – such as, ‘I adapt my work to my audience. ’The second verb is used without an object – such as ‘I adapt.’

Sometimes the two go hand in hand.

I was once asked to speak to a group of students in a Christian school, about poetry. The group would include gradesfour to eight. As I plannedI prayed that the Lord would give me words and stories to engage such a big range in age.

When I walked into the classroom the younger students sat in front, older in back. A row of grade eight boys stood along the back wall, all of them with  arms crossed over their chests. I read their body language immediately: “No old woman is going to get me interested in poetry.”

I had intended to end my talk with a story about Irina Ratushinskaya, the Russian dissident imprisoned for her work. But I immediately adapted andbegan with that story.

“You may think poetry has no power.” I spoke directly to those boys in the back. “But let me tell you a story.” They leaned forward as I told them how this brave woman wrote her poetry in soap while in prison, memorizing over 250 poems in the hope that one day they would be read. I told them that Ms.Ratushinskaya was deprived of Russian citizenship. “Why do you think they did that?” I asked those boys. “Because they were afraid – afraid of a poet’s words.”By the end of that class, I had the students writing poetry. Some of the best was written by those older boys.

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When I walked into that classroom I knew that adapting to my audience was a matter of survival. It was crucial to being heard.

Adapting our writing to our audience is the same. The first time I submitted a short storyto a Sunday School publication,the publisher loved the story but it wastoo long for their readers. “Cut it in half,” she advised. I groaned butdid as she asked and it was published. Adapting is a matter of survival.

Adapting to our audience in prayer is the same. We often come before God with a long list of requests. Help this one, do that for that one, give me the desires in my heart. But if we truly come into God’s presence, we find we must adapt ourselves, we must bow humbly before Him, draw close and listen to the One who is our audience.

We must also learn to adapt our lives to His way of acting in the world, His way of seeing the world. As we do so we begin not only to survive as followers of Christ, but to thrive. As the words of Job tell us – “He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness” (Job 33:26).

Adapting is not an option, neither for a writer, nor for a follower of Jesus.


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there he is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

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. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was shortlisted in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.