I’m currently writing a book. It’s about a talking conker who helps a precocious 14-year-old girl called Addie defeat the school bully in an autumn term conkers competition. I know, right? It’s sure to be a bestseller…
I’m not writing this book with any delusions of grandeur. I’m doing it purely for the challenge as part of NANOWRIMO (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth), an annual, online event in November where participants are tasked to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. That’s 1,667 words a day (or three sides of A4 in layman’s terms) for a month.
Let me tell you straight up: it’s hard. Really hard! The level of discipline required is like nothing I’ve experienced before while also trying to juggle a full-time job, some semblance of a social life, the planning of a wedding (hurray!) and eking out some valuable me-time.
So what am I learning through this process? Well, aside from finding a rather surprising reason to respect Stephenie Meyer all of a sudden, I’m realising just how much focus, determination and faith is required to achieve pretty much anything of lasting value.
This begs a more personal question of me however: Where do I demonstrate the same level of discipline in my faith? Is it in going to church every Sunday? Is it in daily prayer? Does it lie in my actions towards my fellow human beings or simply in exercising a degree of humility and not flipping out when the cat’s been sick on my bed?
In 2001 God gave me a heart for the poor. I was lucky enough to travel to Sierra Leone in my teens where I witnessed first-hand the tangible, brutal reality of life in a developing country, recoiling in the aftermath of a civil war. It changed me, and it changed how I focussed the discipline and practice of my faith.
Poverty is a scourge on the planet, robbing people of dignity, of choice and of opportunity. No theological argument can justify the death of a child to a preventable disease or argue for a world in which we should be content to watch more than a billion people go to bed hungry at night.
And here’s the kicker: I believe we can do something about this. I believe we can end poverty. For people like me, audacious people with God-given angry hearts, this is our discipline, our lens through which we view the world: we walk with God every day, practising with great discipline our belief that our efforts can change the world. We toil to bring an end to the unjustifiable injustice we witness in the world.
St Ignatius of Loyola once said: “Pray as if everything depended on God; work as if everything depended on you.”
I believe poverty can be a thing of the past and I think God wants to help us end it. What are we waiting for? Let’s get cracking.