If you are looking for a good reason to be encouraged about the future, let me give you twenty-six of them. They are the students of Mrs. Gray's 8th Grade English class at Spanish River Christian School. For the most part, they are 13-year-olds. In the event you have forgotten, George Washington, Amelia Earhart, Lottie Moon, Barack Obama, Florence Nightingale, John Piper, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were all thirteen once. Great things happen at thirteen!
Last Thursday I was their "special guest," there on assignment to share some thoughts about writing. You can click here to see the PowerPoint. This post is written mostly to them and for them, but it has applications for all of us. So feel free to peer over my shoulder and read what I am writing to them.
Students, you remember I entitled my talk, Everyone Writes. We do! Our lives are pens; our paper is the 1440 minutes God gives us each day. I used 1440 minutes rather than 24 hours purposefully. Every waking minute of every day you are writing (not just in Mrs. Gray's class): on the lacrosse field, dribbling the basketball, talking with friends, working on a homework assignment, listening to Justin Bieber, connecting on Facebook, hanging out under the pavilion at lunch, listening to other teachers in class, or spending time at home with your family.
All those days of scribbling may seem like you're writing volumes, but in reality they only add up to a line or two. At least that is the way James Russell Lowell saw it. In class, I shared with you a favorite line of mine from the pen of the 19th century poet. Here it is again:
Life is a piece of paper white Whereon each one of us may write his word or two, And then comes night. Greatly begin! Though thou have time But for a line, be that sublime - Not failure, but low aim, is crime.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, put it this way:
"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes"
(James 4:13-15 NIV). Talk with your parents and they will agree, "Life is short. It goes by very fast."
So what is the secret to writing a sublimeline. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us. To young people like you he said, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Writing a great life begins when you realize that the story is not ultimately about you. It's about God. The great thing about God is that he wants your story to be a part of his bigger story. It happens when you trust him with your life.
Students, do you remember the quote from Mark Twain?
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter -
it's the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.
My prayer for you is that your lives would be "the right word." That each of you would be like brilliant lightning streaking beautifully across the sky.
Write boldly. Write purposefully. Write greatly. Write for God!