A friend recently wrote me the most encouraging note of my life. In it he mentioned, “You have the same spirit as John of Patmos. He possessed a wild imagination full of angelic beasts and fantastical dangers (sound familiar?). He was a poet and a lyricist and a storyteller (again…sound familiar?). He wove the scriptures into every phrase and verse and line with such confidence it seemed as though he was doing this absent any effort (come on…work with me here). That’s you, brother. If you ever wondered who you are or how you might fit into God’s grand design, look no further than your favorite book.”
I felt very seen in that moment. I love taking the Scriptures and weaving them into my writing. For example, while I don’t mention the verses, my poetry and most recent song lyrics are loaded with allusions to Bible passages. Likewise, my novel, The Rise of the Water Kingdom, was the gospel retold with cyborg dragons, zombies, ghosts and other fantastical elements, and every single page was a reimagining of Scripture and loaded with hidden (and not-so-hidden) references.
For reasons like this, I find an affinity with John. He has a rather unique way of writing. He takes all of the Scriptures, puts them in a blender, and then serves it up to us in a fresh new way. Eugene Peterson says it best:
Pastor John of Patmos knew his Bible inside and out. The Revelation has 404 verses. In those 404 verses there are 518 references to earlier Scriptures, but there is not a singular direct quote. All the references are allusions. Here is a pastor who was absolutely immersed in Scripture and submits himself to it. He does not just repeat, regurgitate or sight-proof texts. As he preaches, the scriptures are recreated in him. He first assimilates scripture and then lives and preaches the Scripture he had internalized.Eugene Peterson, As Kingfishers Catch Fire
This is a powerful way to serve up the Scriptures. Indeed, there are moments in C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien’s fiction where you catch a taste of Scripture and you immediately experience it afresh and anew. May we, like John, blend, serve and digest the Scripture in new and powerful ways.