Words and Skin

I have always had a strong relationship with books.

When I was a child, I lived within the pages of whatever well-written, character-driven plot was available to me. Ann M Martin, Francine Pascal, R.L Stine, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Lois Lowry were expert fabricators of children's fiction, according to my particular tastes between the ages of 10 and 13, but I would stick my nose into any book with an appealing character and a witty writing style.

As a teenager, I moved on to a few authors a shade darker than those of my childhood: Dean Koontz and Christopher Pike, and still R.L Stine, but now the young adult fiction rather than the Goosebumps series I had loved so much as a kid.

Later came my baptism into the world of contemporary Christian Fiction with Francine Rivers and Frank Peretti at the forefront: I loved that the themes, while often gritty or thrilling, maintained a sense of hope: of good triumphing over evil: a theme often missing from the books of my youth.

It seems that through all the highs and lows and various points between, my life could be tracked according to the books I read. Are you the same? Many can relate to a 'soundtrack of life' : the music that marked each period. While I have some affinity with music, my life story can be found in the pages of the books I have read, particularly the non fiction, mostly focusing on spiritual, relational, intellectual it personal growth.

I have met so many people who say they hate reading: I wonder then, how do they learn their lessons? It seems to me that we all need the 'breaking in' of someone else's ideas to disrupt our own flow of our singular perspective.

When I read friends social media posts about the friends in their lives: the ones who have carried through the hard moments and taught them so much, I wonder if that is where 'extroverts' develop their inner compass. For us 'innies' (introverts) perhaps it's out books.

A book has always had the ability to slide into my inner world: as comforting as a wise old friend, without the need for the human interaction that I sometimes found difficult. I could open up my heart and fears to a book without judgement: could find hope and revelation between the pages in the same way that some extroverts seem to grow through relationship. Of course, that is not to say that relationships have not held a solid and sanctifying power in my own life: quite the contrary. Rather, I found that books could reach deep within me, depositing the wisdom or revelation of a 'friend' right into my spirit, where it was most needed.

Not all friendships have possessed that power.

During my early adulthood, l almost always had several books on the go at once: anywhere from three to a dozen, many of which I did not read to the end. While I always meant to return to those words (the ones past chapter five) more often than not, I didn't.

A few years ago, I started to become a little bothered by my string of unfinished non-fictions: it really came to my attention when I was building my Good Reads Bookshelf. As I was listing the many titles I had picked up at some point in my life, I was finding that I had to mark my progress as 'Unfinished' to the majority of titled...only a dozen or so non fictions had made it to my 'completed' section.

What was wrong with me? Was I a compulsive book-buyer? Did I lack focus and follow through?

Or could it be that God had let me through: from one author to the next, depositing just what was needed in my soul before moving me to the next revelation?

Sounds a bit like a prescription, doesn't it?

Where do you get what you need to grow? Is it found in conversations with friends? Sermons or podcasts or visual aids? Does music speak revelation to your soul, or perhaps movies?

Shortly after that revelation - that I was a chronic book starter, but not 'finisher' I found that I entered a season where I was reading nothing at all. My life was full of information: I was studying at University as mature age student and there was plenty for me to absorb there. But even after that season passed, I couldn't seem to find that same sweet relief and revelation that books had always offered me.

As I recently have returned to the written word once again, I look back on that season with a little thought: was God shifting the way that I received revelation? It was a period where I began to find friends, not that I hadn't had them before, but real, deep and loving interactions that, at times, stripped back the threads of my patched together fascades and wrapped a blanket around my nakedness.

There comes a time when words need skin: I realise this as I think of the fact that Jesus, the Word from heaven: the one who existed in the pre-earth void, became a man and dwelt among us.

'We have seen Him,' the authors of the Gospels tell us, 'we have touched Him and witnessed His miracles.'

Does your truth need skin on it right now? Or are you in a sanctuary season: one where He is pulling you close and whispering what you need to hear?

Wherever you are at this time, I pray that truth and mercy kiss you: that you find the warmth of a hug in the pages of a book or the arms of a friend, or the note of a song, knowing that it comes from Him.

Where love heals and truth sets free, you'll always find Him. Plonk bang at the centre.

'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.'

John 1:1-4,14