I knew a genius once.
When I read of Stephen Dedalus in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Joyce, I thought of him. Wildy emotive, willfully eccentric, this genius just so happened to be a writer. And yet, when I read his writing with with crow-feeted eyes, I saw something new. Chaos.
I think we all long for genius. We all want to say pithy things that make others nod and smoke pipes, puffing their approval of our keen intellect. But what I saw in the Genius’ writing was disorder, chaos, turmoil. Being intelligent doesn’t necessary spill over into coherent writing. Or coherent living.
I thank God that I’m no genius. Although I got “perfect” grades in high school, I always knew it was because I was a hard worker, a crazy perfectionist who thought a B would shatter my self-image. (I got one in college, it didn’t.)
There are geniuses I’ve known in literature (C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien come to mind) whose intellect was transferred to the page in such a way that their thoughts were easily swallowed by the rest of us. Poured through the hand of the All-Knowing God, words (despite those who carry them) changed lives, impacted culture.
Perhaps it is that those who consider themselves more intelligent than others miss God. Wrapped in their own sense of knowledge, they forget that knowledge came from somewhere, Someone. It is a gift–one that God can take and alter the world. Yet, so many take the gift to themselves, cherish it, revel in it, gloat in it–and the result is chaos.
The quote for this week is “all writing comes by the grace of God” by Emerson. I agree. But I’d like to take it one step further. All redemptive writing comes by the grace of God. The only reason I can write a sentence and have it impact the world is by God’s grace. The only reason I can share how God is in the business of healing is by His grace. It comes by recognition that He is the Genius and I am not.
It reminds me of one of my favorite verses: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7). I’m just the earthen vessel, the clay pot. He’s the beauty and power and greatness within. Oh to write so that only He shines!