an audience of one


They say that when we speak, or preach, or write, we should focus on just one person in the crowd. Maybe a loved one. Maybe a friend. Or maybe all the faces need to blur into one so that no one person becomes clear.

I wrote my first book almost in a closet. A back room in the middle of the desert. I wrote it because I needed to, and I wrote it for my eyes only. My fingers flew over the keys as I outran the demons of depravity and chased a dream. I cringed at the first encouragement to let it go, and I never imagined it would land in the hands of hundreds of people.

Now I sit at my desk, half way through my current novel. As I write I am haunted by voices. What will this person think about my words? Is this too raw? Too dark? Can I soften this reality so it doesn’t make someone flinch? And all of a sudden, I am writing to every face, every friend and acquaintance, every stranger who I have now given a measuring stick to. Who now somehow has an input on my value, my worth as a writer. And deeper, my worth as a person.

I have a rank now. I didn’t before. But now I am ranked against 8 million people. It changes every day. When the number soars, I relish in it. But when it drops, I think, how can I improve? How can I keep the plate spinning and the numbers climbing? How can I please everyone around me? Everyone, all at once.

Why? I ask myself that. Where does the fear come from and why does it creep in to stifle my creativity? Silence my voice? How can it stumble my footing and steal my joy to just write? Write for those who matter most.

Today, my friend texted me. She had started on another book after reading mine. She said, “In this one, the main character loses his faith, so much so that he rejects God. At the end he finds his faith again and one line was like ‘even when I didn’t want a father He was still there.’ I feel like I’m seeing Billy everywhere! And that’s how I’ve felt since finishing your book... stirred, awakened... Instead of searching for God all the time, I feel like I can finally “see” Him, and I finally know that He’s loved me all along.”

Her words sank deep. What more could I ever want. A million reviews. A Best-Seller Banner. No not that. Even an outpouring of accolades will only pale in comparison.

Because whatever I have, whatever scanty fishes and loaves I can pull out, become LIFE in His hands. Not in mine. All I have to do is let go. Stop worrying about the outcome or the voices or the measuring stick. It doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t depend on me. I can’t do what Jesus can do no matter how hard I strive.

I can write, but I can never transform. I can speak, but I can’t change lives. Something else happens. Something soul-deep. Eternity-flooded. A Father’s arms wraps around deep wounds. And the healing begins.

Only He can do that.

Only in His hands will my meager portion feed thousands.

And my audience becomes one.