“Build me a bridge/and make it strong/make it stretch from here to heaven/and then paint it with a song […] I will lay myself upon the bridge/and carry the weight of hell/and when it’s over/I will come back.” © Billy Charles Root
I’ve decided to stop writing many times, but my pen will not let go of my hand – or my heart. I love to compose different symphonies of words and letters. Sometimes a creature pops out of my document, and I have to remind myself that words are not alive. It’s not the words that matter, but the life we breathe between the lines. I often ask myself
Why do I write?
Tim Grahl, the president of out:think, a firm that helps writers, says every writer must have a “why”. In his article I hate self-promotion Tim Grahl says a writer must know why he writes. It’s not about the writer, but his writing, the message he wants to share.
I agree with him. My writing is not about me. My WHY is not about becoming famous or rich, neither about my passion for writing. I write because I want to share God’s love with the world. However, I fear myself “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7, 15). I abominate my ambitions, pride, and desires for compliments. I fear losing my direction. If I forget my “why”, I must quit writing.
How can I be a Christian writer in 2014? How can I keep my focus?
With those questions in my mind, I called a Christian author on Skype. This September Billy Charles Root won a writing contest at CTU Publishing Group, and published his first book, Pressing On, a collection of Christian poetry, a collection of Billy’s heart of hearts, which he call his poetry. A poet from Oklahoma’s afternoon and a fellow poet from Denmark’s evening met to talk about faith and Christianity, and what it’s like being a Christian writer.
Mariane: How did you become a Christian?
Billy: Honestly I’m not sure, but at first I prayed to accept Christ as my savior, but I did it to get a Bible. I wanted a free bible, and that was the term. They said, you have to say this prayer to get the Bible, so I said the prayer and I got the Bible. But even as shallow as that was, there was still something happening, I wasn’t fully accepting him, but Christ started to work on my heart. Some things started to convict me, and we, my wife and I, started to go to church more often, but the we found out the pastor of the church was cheating on his wife. I didn’t see how I could learn how to be a better man, husband, and father from a man that was failing to do it himself. I was still really new as a Christian, so there wasn’t a lot of forgiveness, and so we left and that was in 98, and we were married until 2005, never really went back to church.
I still believed there was a God, and I still had convictions coming and when my marriage fell apart, Christ used that just as the Bible says he will. He uses all things for the good for those who love him. It completely changed my make-up from the inside out. There was a point I was with my wife, I have now, when my ex-wife, I have 6 children with her, she was going to divorce the man that she left me for, and move away with my children. I freaked out and I picked a fight with my wife that I have now, trying to get her leave me so I could do what I could do for my children. I ended up in the garage all weekend all by myself that weekend, and I was reading scriptures, working on the car and I came back and read the scripture and I worked on the car.
I believe that weekend I got the holy spirit and everything about me changed, everything looked different, I saw people different. Everything changed in me and at that point I was heavily into Christ and I’ve been ever since. I believe I got baptized by the holy spirit.
Billy tells me he has gone a lot to a Baptist church, but there were bad things happening there, conflicts, rumors of child molesting, a pastor thought he was Moses. Billy says the things happening were very worldly, and a church is supposed to be different from the world.
How do you practice your faith today?
I’ve begun going to a church called First Christian Church. I praise God 100 percent of the day, always thinking about the Word, always thinking about what’s going on in heaven. I listen a lot to Christian music almost all the time. Any chance I get, I’m praising God.
The birth of Christian poetry
Beauty wares no disguise
That beholders eyes haven’t seen
Therefore father cannot stop looking
For he sees the beauty in thee
he watches over you
with a love that is true
And knows no boundaries
to the beauty inside
So stop looking on the out
Look at the spirit that’s inside
And stop looking with such doubt
From his sight you cannot divide
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Can you imagine fearfully made?
You were fearfully made.
Have you ever thought about who was fearing while you were made?
I don’t know for sure but, let me tell you what I think………
Creator God, on his throne
You in mind, a great unknown
Angels gather, millions upon millions
To watch you made, a grand pavilion
Intricate pieces, fused with wonder
Eyes of lightning, voice of thunder
Patented character, love and grace
The perfect amount of freckles upon your face
All hairs are numbered, mosaic Sight
Perfect stature, limited height
And yet you are made in his image
Not duplicated but rather replicated
precious stone and priceless jewel
Made to be no one’s fool
And angels watch in amazement of you
Maybe they see the great things you’ll do
Like write the right words
That turn away fear
Or just the right touch
To dry hurting tears
Somewhere in this world
A story is being told
It’s the story of your life
That through you God unfolds
You are the answer to a question
And you are here today
On a holy secret mission
So lift your head
Stand up strong
Stop playing dead
Alive do you belong
This is the day that the Lord has made so rejoice and be glad
Today is a gift
So enjoy the present
And remember you are the answer
To someone’s question
© Billy Charles Root
You began writing poems in 2010 – how?
At about 2009/2010 I started to sit down, playing a little bit with poetry, I had never really read poetry or Shakespeare. I learned in my own way, I picked up some John Milton books. I looked into some more Shakespeare stuff.
Do you think writing is hard or easy?
Most of the time, it’s hard and easy. Right now I feel like I’m going through a writer’s block stage because I feel a lot of my poetry is small childlike poetry, just rhyming the last word on every last sentence. It’s kinda boring. That’s when it’s hard.
My publisher has told me that I’m a very longwinded writer because when I get an idea, I just can’t put down the pen until it’s done and sometimes it goes on for a long time. Sometimes – I need to stop right here because it’s already too long, nobody is going to read this. That’s when it’s easy.
I try to write every day. I do most of my writing on my phone. On notepads I just write down an idea. In the car I have a voice recorder. Sometimes when I have nothing to do, which is hardly ever, I go back and look at those (ideas) to see if I can’t build on them. Other times I have to pull over in the other side of the road because if you don’t get it down, it leaves.
Do you have any advice for other Christian writers?
Honestly, I get a lot inspiration from King James’ Bible.
Here there’s a lot of arguing over which is the best translation, and there’s the King James Only Movement. It’s a group of people saying if you’re not reading in King James Bible, you’re going to Hell. It’s all a ploy by the Devil I believe. If the Devil can keep us from reading any of them, he’s gonna win.
I was really struggling with that when God gave me a scripture and it was “you search for scriptures, thinking you have salvation in there” . When I think about the King James Only Movement, I think about that scripture. But then I go back to King James because it’s a beautiful poetic book. It gives that creativity in my mind going. So if I’m gonna write scripturally, or from the heart or about church, I go there to remind me to where that’s come from. My advice would be to be open minded to the different translations, but I’ve always found the poetry to be in King James.
Which part does God play in your writing?
Honestly I think all of it. I think he is the path. Because when I write, I think about him. Actually, it doesn’t matter what I’m writing about. I feel it’s like it’s all from him. If I’m writing about my wife, if I’m writing about driving a car. I give him credit of everything to him so if I get an idea to write a poem I feel like he’s directing all of it.
Which is hard because sometimes when somebody wants to critique my writing, I get like well this was from God, I don’t think he’s going to listen to you, but at the same time it’s like I’m a human and God got me an idea. I don’t listen very well, so I might have missed something. You can imagine you can go back 2000 years and be sitting next to Jonah or Moses when they were writing, imagine Josqua said: “Maybe you should write that in a different way”, it’s like I got this from God. …I think it’s something we all have problems with, if we think we’re writing on God’s behalf or within his mind, we can’t fully understand him, so it’s raw unwrapped ideas about what’s he’s trying to telling me.
So you’ve published this book, so how is it to be an author? And how do you keep your feet on the ground?
I don’t know (laughs) It’s been around a month now I’ve been published. There’s a vey prestituous field to it. I’ve the first one in my family that has done such a thing. When I told my dad about it, he couldn’t believe it because I was the kid that messed around in school and didn’t get good grades. I failed in English I don’t know how many times. I don’t even know my own language and can barely spell, have a bad time with grammar, but the one thing about technology is that there’s programs that fix that for you. Billy laughs.
So to keep my feet on my ground…God keeps me humble. I’ve only sold four books, so I honestly believe that he controls that flow for that reason. The other thing is that it’s not the center of my life. Like I told you earlier I have six sons, I have two stepdaughters, and a stepson and two grandkids, and I owe an old house and have a regular job. I have bigger and dare I say better things I have to take care of before I can actually put my feet and my hands in the poetry and the authorship. At this point, I consider it a hobby.
I ask this question because you know some people get published or famous, and then they change, and I have thought about what it could do to me, so I’m curious.
I think on Facebook you can see a lot of that in what authors call themselves. They call themselves King or Queen, and it’s a little arrogant. From what I’ve seen there’s a million of us, and some are really good. In fact, so good I can’t believe I got authored and they haven’t. So yeah, I think a lot of people get a big head too quick.
I also think that our faith helps us. Do you have any advice to Christian writers who dream about being published?
Honestly, mine was a contest, I had won a writing contest. I entered the contest with “No Vacancy”, the first poem in the book. That’s my favorite poem, my very own anyway.
But you got to believe in yourself. If you’re a Christian poet and you think God has given you a message to say, to write and to share with the world, then do it. Put it on Facebook, get it out there and let people read it because God’s going to bring somebody, a publisher to you. That’s what he did to me, I put it in a contest and I won it. I haven’t done any of the work that some people who got published had to do, He’s really blessed me with this and I’m eternally thankful for it. If I could do it my way, my picture and my name wouldn’t be on the book. I would give them all away. I don’t really care about making money off it, I only care that a poem or more in that book will encourage somebody. Outside of that it just really doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be used, so I believe true-hearted Christians to be the same way.
What is God calling you to do?
If I have to answer that honestly…He wants me to have some small part in people coming back to loving Christ for who he is and not for all the junk that we’ve put with him. The cross is not a gold necklace, the Bible is not just a book. Going to church isn’t just a function and especially in America, it’s like “I need a new bible with this cover and I need a new one with leather, I need it with gold writing.” Nobody really says I need Christ. I just need Jesus to be here with me, I need God to direct me. Here it’s very bad with Christian worship is really a rock concert now. No one sits down and just has a sing, saying of their heart to God.
My purpose of putting together the poetry in the book that you have (Pressing On) was to show people that they were not alone if they felt oppressed in their Christianity. The things that were going on when Christ was on earth, aren’t happening right now, at least not here as far as water is turned into wine, or a bread feeding 5000 people. People are going through this moment of waiting for the next magic show. If you really love Christ, you see through that. But you feel like you’re the only one sitting in the congregation feeling “I want to see Christ walking right up at the aisle. and I really don’t care about what song we’re singing. I wanna see Christ in here today. I just feel like I’m the only one, and it can be depressing, so when I wrote about this in my poems. If I want to share it with the world, it’s just to encourage you that you’re not alone. I’m not saying I’ve got an answer to everything, but my heart breaks too.
Billy Charles Root reminds me to be humble and keep my focus on what’s important in life, and focus on Christ. To be a Christian is not to be a member of some club, or to have a hobby you spend time on only once in the month or on Christmas Eve. To believe in Christ is to have a loving father- and child relationship with God every single day. Let that be my reminder and center when I write, daydream or fold my laundry.
The Danish philosopher and writer, Søren Kierkegaard, said “Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none come further.”
Saved by Love
The name of love has pierced me through
My heart did stop and die
At my tomb love called to me
I arose from death to life
The sound of love did raise me up
I didn’t ask for it but it still came
It found me there in my sin
Love did take away my shame
Love whispers so soft and true
The sound did wake my ears
Love once did come and die for me
Love did eclipse my fears
How is it possible that love would come
Why would it come for me
There’s nothing I’ve done to warrant such love
There’s nothing I could be
We accuse love of lying to us
And yet love remains standing true
We spit on the very face of love
And still it remains unmoved
We scream and cuss in the ears of love
And yet love listens to our pleas
We hit love on the chin with fists
And still love does not leave
We tore the flesh that love did wear
From the body of a man
We cursed loves name without a care
And still love took our stand
We nailed love upon a tree
to slowly die alone
Never seeing he died for we
He still wants to take us home
There love died so we could live
Praying for us as he went
Love took all that we were owed
And yet love never did get spent
The veil was tore and the tomb was loaned
Love wasn’t done just yet
Sunday morning love gave back to tomb
And on loves way, love went
Love has called me and pierced me through
Love has screamed in a whisper
I love you
© Billy Charles Root
Billy Charles Root was born in 1975. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife Tina. They have nine children combined and 3 grandchildren. He is a professional automotive technician for the United States Postal Service. In September 2014 he published his first book Pressing On. You can follow Billy Charles Root on