Friday, January 16, 2009


A few months ago, after reading an article in Wired Magazine about screenwriter Charlie Kaufman ("Eternal Sunshine", "Being John Malkovich", etc.), I had an unusual thought. More like a question in my head really, but with a deep resonance like someone was tapping their finger against the tuning fork in my soul.

The question was, "What would you do if you weren't writing your weekly [Subversive Underground] articles?"

I put the magazine down. I sipped my coffee and rolled the question across the pallette of my mind. "What would I do...?"

The question took root in my soul with such a deep force that I had to stand up and walk around. I found myself heading for the front door and soon I was walking across the green grass on my front lawn and down the sidewalk and across the street.

"What if I didn't write my newsletter each week? What would I do instead?"

I've been writing my weekly e-newsletter for just about three years. The original intent was to have an excuse to write something on a regular basis and setting up a subscription feed to send my articles to helped motivate me to sit down and write something of substance - because people were expecting it to arrive and if they didn't get it I would be letting them down.

After 3 years I would have to say that it worked. Every week for the last 3 years I've sat down and written articles on discipleship to Jesus, God's heart for the poor, the Gospel of the Kingdom and my adventures planting a house church in Orange County.

Because of these articles I've been able to formulate my thoughts on these issues and self-publish two books, with more on the way, and I've heard from many people over the years about how my articles have encouraged them in their own walk with Christ. I've developed a sort of Internet Ministry of sorts, completely by the Grace of God, and I'm thankful for all of it.

But now, this question comes to me like a whisper and asks me to consider something radical - what if I let it all go?

Running this by a few of my friends I received mixed reactions. Some want me to transition the newsletter into a different direction, others encourage me to let it go and see what God does next. At this point I'm still not sure what exactly will happen when the final [Subversive Underground] has been sent and I am free from this self-imposed obligation to write something for 276 subscribers - mostly strangers from various places around the globe.

But, in many ways, it's the question that intrigues me. "What would I do?" I've thought about changing the newsletter to focus on others who are living subversive lives and serving others by doing a series of interviews. I've thought about asking my readers to share their thoughts with each other and open up the newsletter to everyone else to tell their own story. I've also thought about just challenging my readers to live more subversive and practice a life of service for the good of others and then turning off the lights and letting it all stop. But, honestly, I still really don't know yet what to do next.

Last week I sat at my keyboard and I really didn't feel like writing anything. I wished, out loud to myself, that the [SU] were already finished, but then I took a deep breath and prayed for inspiration and out came another article. So, maybe there's still a bit of this left in me for now?

Even more than the question itself, what I think inspires me most of all right now is the one who is asking me that question and the finger of Him who is tapping that tuning fork in my soul, sending out those reverbations of new possibility. What does God have in mind? Where is He leading me next?

I think the answer to that question isn't something I need, in my own finite creative mind, to dream up. I think it's more about obedience to the One asking me the question. Am I willing to let go of a list of 276 people who are reading my words each week? Am I willing to start over again with nothing? Am I willing to risk anonymity for the sake of the Gospel? Would I really abandon my tiny internet Kingdom to pursue the King of Glory and the Kingdom of God?

In my heart of hearts I know what I have to do. I know I need to lay it all down. I know that Jesus set an example for me that I need to follow. I have to let go. I have to say "Yes". I have to follow that whispering voice. Because He's my shepherd and I can't resist Him.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. — John 12:24

Right now I can't think of anything better than letting go in order to discover His perfect will.



Like a Mustard Seed said...

Keith, tearing up a good way, cause i know that voice and that tug really well... often times when we lay it down (whatever that thing is, it's different for everyone)...God does something we couldn't have envisioned but even better than we personally could have planned. The point I think that I am pulling from this and in similar experiences, is that we do need to lay everything down before HIM and to ask for his participation in whatever He leads or prompts us to, does that make sense? Hope so, it does in my head anyway.. ha!

Keith, you and Wendy have a amazing hearts, but there's never a point in our lives where we're done growing unless we decide to stand in God's as long as you're seeking HIM, he's gonna show up! :) We love you and these articles for us, have inspired, provoked, strengthened, enriched, challenged and have been a source of encouragement right when we needed it! So, for what it's worth, we're (Daniel & I) 2 out of 276 readers who are thankful for you writing these. But we've become less dependant on them, as through them we've sought God in a new way, and in a tangible (subversive way as you put it)...

BUT if we hadn't met you in July of 2007, and we didn't have these articles through early 2008 we may have walked away from the "business model church" for good. So, they (these articles) were worth 2 discouraged souls, right?

I've seen you grow in and search deeper the last year and half, and it's been a HUGE encouragement, and the fact that you'd lay this down to seek to know HIM even more, is a testimony and an example of your love for HIM. God may just very well ask you to keep writing them, but if you don't ask then you'll never know....

peace to you my friend,

Keith Giles said...

Heather, Daniel,

Thanks so much for your encouraging reply.

I am humbled by your words (and God knows I need to be more humble).

When the [Subversive Underground] signal goes silent I will still continue to blog here, and I'll maintain the existing [SU] articles for people to read if they want to.

When I first considered closing down the newsletter I was afraid of doing it too quickly. Now, the more I think about it and pray about it, the more I wonder if I can really hold off ending it until August! That's still a lot of weekly articles to write.

For now we're ending with the 200th article, but I reserve the right to close it down before then if God leads me.

Again, I have been very blessed by you two over the last year and I know that God will continue to allow us to encourage and inspire one another going forward.

Can't wait to see you guys in February!


Like a Mustard Seed said...

oops, I meant, we may have walked away from the "church" per say, because of the business model we encountered and honestly struggled against...not thinking there was an alternative to what is "standard", and we had little encouragment from anyone else (other than you sharing your testimony readily w/us), who wanted to "think and/or trust" God outside of the BOX.