Why I Can’t Write for Normal People

fountain-pen-745308_640Once, a man asked me what kind of writing I do.

“Christian writing.” I replied.

“Oh.” He answered with a tinge of disappointment. “Do you ever write for normal people?”

And I could hear God laugh.

In the King James translation of 1 Peter 2:9, God says to us “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.”

 Boy, do we fulfill that scripture in spades!
More recent translations replace “a peculiar people” with “a people for his own possession” or “His own special people” but I think peculiar hits the nail on the head. I learned early in life that God isn’t too discriminating about who He lets sit at His table and I’ve come to appreciate how fortunate I am that He isn’t.
Take, for instance, the motley crew that used to gather at the Baptist church in my hometown for Sunday night hymn sings. This was the seventies, mind you, so hymn sings weren’t the normal place to find a teen-age girl, but I attended faithfully because the church family was my home and, well, I was peculiar even then.

A young pastor, fresh out of seminary, led the services. As I recall he wasn’t very popular and his tenure was short-lived. I liked him. I didn’t understand the reasons the adults criticized him but as I was a teen-age Christian attending high school in the seventies, it helped me to have a leader who knew the sting of rejection.

Our pianist was a shaped like Aunt Bea on The Andy Griffith show, sort of bean-bag chair in a flowered dress. She played with enthusiasm but liked to change tempo mid-verse. Beneath her fingers, every hymn became a bit of an adventure.

The other regular attendees were a spinster school teacher named Louise who wore cat glasses and sang with a glass-shattering vibrato, a socially awkward woman named Melva, and a one-armed man, named Fred.
Melva, who wore thick glasses and liked to stand close, inside people’s personal bubble, often interrupted the sermons to announce she was going to the bathroom. One year she gave my mother a toilet bowl brush for Christmas. She baked everyone in town cookies that no one ever actually ate.

Fred Bailey, a man who was old from the time I was young, lost his arm in an industrial accident but still managed to carve dollhouse furniture and always requested hymn #333, Blessed Assurance, (“all three verses and could we please stand to sing” every time).

So, while my peers were home listening to rock opera on their 8-tracks, I was standing next to Mr. Bailey singing in full voice about our blessed assurance. I had no cool young youth minister targeting my demographic. There were no special youth services or lock-ins and good Christian music was just being born all the way on the west coast (Thank you, Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill!) So, God loved me and taught me about His love through this gathering of misfits and small-town rejects.

In that church basement that always smelled like coffee,  we sang about a love that was higher and deeper. We sang about a love that would not let us go. We sang about a promised home where we would have a place even though now we didn’t really belong. And we sang about the family of God into which we were welcomed even though we knew, only too well, all the reasons there were to reject us.

We were a mighty peculiar people but during the hours we spent together, we knew in the depths of our souls that we were also part of a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”

As the body of Christ we were transformed. We weren’t clumsy, rejected pastors or unchosen spinsters or chubby uncool teens or damaged old men or widowed or divorced or socially awkward. We were beautiful, loved and accepted – a people of His own possession.

In that cinderblock room, we gathered and lived out the second half of that verse for 1 Peter 2:9 “that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”.

When I recall those nights, I don’t remember a gathering of misfits but rather a room alive with light in a dark town.

God revels in calling those of us the world rejects in order to make His power and glory known throughout the universe. He laughs at the judgments and conventions of people who see only the outward appearance for God looks on the heart.

No, I never write for normal people. I write for people who know how much they deserve to be excluded but who bask in the audacious, lavish grace of a God who has chosen them, embraced them, transformed them, and filled them with a brilliance that nothing on this earth will dim.

“Write what you know” they say.

So, you see, I can’t write for normal people. I write for a peculiar people and it’s my honor and joy to do so.
Are there peculiar people God has used in your life? Share your story in the comments


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13 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. I am older than you, Lori, so I remember all you mention and more. But…to the point. Yes, a peculiar couple made all the difference in my life when I was child back in the fifties–the Chandlers. Mrs. Chandler suffered from the weird, white spittle that forms in the corner of old peoples’ lips and regularly wanted to take us all in her arms and give us a wet smack on the cheek. We cringed, yes, but we would just dry our faces and know we were loved. She insisted we memorize scripture, the books of the Bible, and made us do the motions to “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” in white tunics in front of the whole congregation. But, thanks to her…I know where to find a verse in my Bible, I still know verses by heart, and I am rarely embarrassed by anything I am asked to do on stage during a church service. And well, she taught me that being peculiar was. . . normal. Thanks for a great post!

  2. I’d say you can count on it, Lori!! And I am with you…I want them to remember Colleen, the Weirda (I speak Spanish, and the feminine ends in an “a”). Right now I am discipling two teens. Others I have had the privilege to guide are married with their own children. It scares me because of the huge responsibility. But, what a privilege!

  3. Anonymous says:

    A friend and I taught a group of children from a subsidized housing project. After a few visits, we could hear the children–and adults–yell “Watch your mouth, the church ladies are here.” One of those kids came to Christ. A few years later, she brought her mother to church and she, too, accepted Christ as Saviour and Lord. Today they are teaching children from the same housing project about the God who loves them. It’s nice to know being a peculiar person has results that last for generations. I never want to be “normal” until Christ makes us all His “normal”. Your blogs seem to touch something in me every time I read a new one. You go, girl. MOMMA

  4. This post just made my heart soar!

  5. I loved your post. God bless you for telling things the way they are or should be. God bless you. Normal is a setting on a washing machine, we should never be considered normal.

    Glenda Parker

  6. I always love your writings, but this has to be one of my favorites!

  7. Thank you, Lori. Warmed my heart.

  8. Joanne Sher says:

    You never cease to move me with your writing. So very much to ponder – and to live.

  9. Thank you all for your sweet comments. 🙂