God Whispered Me into Being
That’s how my friend Benson the Author taught me to think about it in his books. I’ve been whispered into being by a God who knows me fully and invites me to join his mission of making all things new, bringing heaven to earth. My job, according to Benson, is to love and be the “me” that God whispered. This is very, very hard to do.
Some days the “whispered me” would much rather be the Alex Gordon, Rob Bell, Derek Webb, or Thomas Merton who have also been whispered into being and seem to live such amazing stories with their entrusted gifts. The whispered me struggles and wrestles with loving neighbors and loving self. The whispered me has doubts and unanswerable questions about this journey of faith, hope, and love. The whispered me wants to be a great husband and father, but feels constrained by the enormous debt of student loans and exhausted by the ceaseless demands of daily life. The whispered me knows Jesus said something about having “life to the full” and that it had nothing to do with the latest technological innovation and everything to do with God’s kingdom on earth (John 10:10, NIV).
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. - John 10:10
If God whispered me into being, then he knows full well the bizarre and eccentric ideas that tend to consume my imagination for extended periods of time. When I was five years old, I was obsessed with being Batman. I didn’t just think that Batman was “cool.” No, I wanted to be Batman. To have the car and the mask and the muscles and brains. That was just the beginning of the ideas.
There was the week in high school when I wanted to fly in the Air Force. This was more or less influenced by a video game, the movie Top Gun, and a family vacation where we visited the Air Force Academy. This idea quickly passed when I learned that my vision was not good enough to be a pilot.
As I have gotten older, the bizarre and eccentric ideas have grown in both strength and number. They taunt me and invite me to chase them at the most peculiar of times. Sometimes I hear them when I’m mowing my lawn or having a catch and sometimes they are sparked by movies or baseball games or books. They are never logical or convenient.
W. P. Kinsella wrote the fantastic novel Shoeless Joe which served as the inspiration for the incredible movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. I recently contacted Mr. Kinsella and told him that I feel much like Costner’s character, hearing ideas so loudly that they must be voices singing to my soul. He replied,
I’m very distrustful of anyone who claims to hear voices. It is the fiction writer’s job to create weird characters, but I wouldn’t want to know any of them in real life. – W. P. Kinsella
Kinsella called me a real life weird character.
And I am ridiculously thrilled.
I’ve been weird almost my whole life; it’s about time someone recognized it. All of my hair fell out when I turned six years old and I’ve been completely bald ever since. That is weird. I have loved Royals baseball as long as I can remember. That, too, is weird. And I openly confess to hearing voices. That is really weird.
A few years ago, these voices led me to tour the Midwest sharing stories and songs about injustices worldwide, inviting people to live into God’s Great Story. I made friends with convicts and victims of sex trafficking and an orphan from Africa. And now these stories are published, thanks to a new publishing company who decided to take a chance on me.
These voices challenged me to write stories of baseball and faith about a team that has had only one winning season in the last decade. Through twenty baseball games, my faith was strengthened and I had the chance to meet one of my childhood heroes.
“Normal“ people who are satisfied with maintaining the status-quo and chasing the unattainable American dream don’t stand a chance of changing the world. World changing is left to those who are weird enough to believe that the impossible isn’t really impossible, it just requires doing what no one else has previously done.
If God is able to raise Jesus from the dead, as impossible as that seems, who’s to say that the Living Word of God Who spoke all things into being can’t whisper ideas to a storyteller and change the world?
Ethan D. Bryan is the author of Tales of the Taylor: Songs That Changed the World and Run Home & Take a Bow: Stories of Life, Faith, and a Season with the Kansas City Royals. He self-medicates with Dr Pepper and Chick-Fil-A. Ethan and his wife, Jamie, have two girls and live in Springfield, Missouri. You can follow him on Twitter: @Ethan_Bryan.