Wild Words . . . Photos & Fine Art

Co-creating by heart with sandy cathcart through writers helps and art info, focusing on all things wild.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Facing the Giant - Part I

I'm finally home for a while. Just returned from a mad dash to Southern California where I enjoyed my grandkids and bawled my eyes out seeing Hana Desiree Cathcart graduate from High School. Is the world ready for this spunky gal?

By popular request, I’m posting the following, which is a message given by Steve Hopkins at the recent Artist Conference at Box R Ranch in Southern Oregon. His words are extremely encouraging for both artists and writers or musicians—anyone endeavoring to work in the arts.

(That's Steve on the right and Chris on the left)

Steve is the author of Tale of a Donkey and Tale of a Champion, two books and recordings that are no longer available but are loved by many. Perhaps if enough of us make noise, the powers that be will bring them back out again. Steve is also the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Christian Fellowship in Salem, Oregon. If that isn’t enough, he’s also one of the best musicians I’ve known and sing pretty decent too.

Steve’s brother, Chris Hopkins, is a well-known artist who encouraged every one of us who attended the conference. I will post this message in several parts until you have the entire thing. It’s something I will keep coming back to often for my own encouragement.



Do you remember the times when you struggled with something or you had been fighting a battle and it left you feeling like you had been run over by a Mac truck?

Perhaps it was an idea. Or a fear of failure. Or worse yet, a fear of success.

Most fears of failure are really masks for fear of success. Or it could be something imbedded in your psyche by a careless mentor or parent that pops up and intimidates you. Or a thought that you’ve wrestled with for years that says, “Who do you think you are . . . a real artist (or writer) or something?”

I think all of us have a giant to overcome. In David’s case it was Goliath.

In I Samuel, chapter 17, Israel’s archenemy was the Philistines. But the war had come to a stalemate. The Philistines were camped on one side of the valley of Elah and the Israelites on the other. And for 40 days Israel made no movement to cross over. Every morning and every evening a Philistine named Goliath would step out of the ranks and walk back and forth through the valley and trash talk Israel.

Verses four through seven give us a physical description of Goliath. He stood about nine-and-a-half-feet tall and wore bronze armor that weighed 5,000 shekels or 200 pounds. He wore bronze greaves around his legs and had a javelin the size of a telephone pole with a spear point that weighed 600 shekels or over 15 pounds—that’s the weight of a shot put! I’m telling you, the guy was MASSIVE!

“Choose a man from your ranks to fight me one-on-one.” He’d roar. “If I defeat him, you agree to become our servants. But if he defeats me, then we will become your servants. What do you say? Deal or no deal?”

Among the Hebrews there were no takers. Not even Saul who was the tallest of them all would fight Goliath. But along comes David, and in an irony that only God could create, a little pipsqueak defeats the great and mighty Goliath.


I’m an artist of sorts. My field of creating is in the area of sermon writing. My congregation is my canvass, words are my brushes, and the Holy Spirit and my imagination is the paint I use to create a sermon.

I teach no less than four times a week. Every Wednesday and Thursday night at 6:30 p.m., and Friday morning at 6:00, and Sunday at 10:30 a.m., I have to climb into the pulpit armed with a sermon that is inspired, instructional and interesting. If you want to know what that is like, just imagine what it was like in college writing a term paper. And I do that four times a week, almost every week, and have for over ten years now.

And every Monday morning, I face a giant. He appears without fail and challenges and taunts me.

And my giant has a name. His name is RESISTANCE. And if my guess is right, my giant is your giant too.

Steven Pressfield, (author of, The Legend of Bagger Vance) in his book, The War of Art , says, “There is a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t and the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.

“What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”

Pressfield explains that resistance for the artist is more powerful to kick than cocaine, “Look in your own heart,” he says. “Unless I'm crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I'm crazy, you're no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow.

“You think Resistance isn't real? Resistance will bury you.

“You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings?

“Neither have I.

“Resistance beat him.

“Call it overstatement but I'll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.”

…Or a computer screen, or an empty white writing pad.

Pressfield calls this force Resistance, but the bible calls it by another name: “the Flesh.”

Resistance, or the Flesh, is a powerful force field that keeps us from starting or finishing our creative endeavors and potential masterpieces. And the Flesh/Resistance will distract us from our work using any means possible. It will resort to perjury, fabrication, lies, and seduction. It will bully; it will cajole or assume any form necessary to keep you from your work. As Pressfield says, “It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stick-up man. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned.”

Resistance (or the Flesh) does not aim to wound or disable—it aims to kill, and it plays for keeps. It’s target is the epicenter of your genius—your soul.

Here’s how it works for me:

I finish my morning routine and am in the office every day by 9:00 a.m. I turn on my computer and walk to our coffee shop in the church and make myself a double tall breve’ latte with sugar-free vanilla.

Usually, my assistant comes out of his office and we talk about issues in the church or discuss how the Sunday morning or midweek meeting went. I tell him I have a lot of research to do and had better get back to my work, so I return to my computer and stare at the screen and end up reading Fox News. It’s 9:45 or so and the phone begins to ring, or I remember I need to talk to someone. So I make a couple of calls and when I’m done, it’s 11:00. So I go and make another latte…I allow myself two a day, so I head out to the coffee shop again. As I finish making another double tall breve’ with sugar-free vanilla (this time with fern on top) I realize I need to talk to my secretary a minute. By the time we are done, it’s noon and time for lunch.

I almost always meet someone, and when I return it’s 2:30. More calls have come in that I have to return and when I’m done, it’s 4:30 and too late to start anything. So I go home, telling myself I’ll work at my home office.

After dinner and some time with Debbie, my wife, I once again turn on the computer. I decide on my scripture text and Debbie informs me it’s 8:00 and time for American Idol. I’ve got to see if my girl Paris is going to make it to the finals (she didn’t) and then CSI is on after that. I sit down at last to my computer to create, but it’s 11:00 and time for bed. I tell myself I’ll get to it tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes Resistance (or the Flesh) is there again, walking up and down the valley, taunting me, distracting me, wining over me.

How will I ever beat him and break this stalemate? How will we?


Turn in tomorrow for more of the story!


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