The Author and Finisher

Years ago, when I was struggling against self-sabotaging fears about the worth of my writing and my ability to finish a novel, I labored in prayer. I wasn’t interested in marketing in the sense of gaining the most sales possible. If that were my sole aim, I’d have chosen different content. I wanted to be sure that God was really calling me to this endeavor. Writing is big in my family, my father was a writer and editor, then a publicist, who made his living with words. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t merely doing something that came naturally.

Sounds pretty pretentious to think one can hear from God on specific matters, I suppose, especially on the bland, secularized diet most religious institutions feed people. There may be homey stories that make us feel good about ourselves, perhaps teaching on morality and ethics, the ten commandments and maybe the two that Jesus gave on loving God and each other. But God’s will is better understood as a relationship demanding total surrender which transforms the heart, which in turn leads us to turn toward goodness, and delivers us from deeds of the dark. In His Presence we rejoice in His grace, we walk by faith, giving secondary consideration to what we see, feel, and hear. We develop our spiritual sixth sense.

Psalm 19 gives wonderful insight into hearing from God. “Day to day utters speech, and night to night reveals knowledge,” it states, further explaining that the voice of God which is always ready to reveal more to us is speaking in a universal language: “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”

Further, God is capable of tailoring His utterance to each heart. God has a specific will for each of us, a plan which can be discerned, a path which has many turns and twists but in which we have His imminent guidance. Check out John 16:13, Jer 29:11, Jn 10:27; the many examples of Paul in the book of Acts including Acts 18:9-11. “Oh, that’s just for Paul, Peter and John, and Jeremiath was a prophet, they were all special.” Yes, they were, but the word of God is clear that we, too can have the same closeness with God, albeit unique missions.

“And let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (NKJV)

This is one of the verses which I have prayerfully adapted to my writing. Appropriating Jesus as the Author and the Finisher of my books, I write what He’s shown me to write. Every part of the process is subject to Him, to the best of my ability (it’s always going to be through me as the imperfect filter and the lens). It’s my job as an author to keep consulting with Him, and in this He is ever faithful. I know I will always have a ways to go in hearing accurately and fully, but at least I’ve left!

I wonder what scriptures Paul was leaning on as he ministered with Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus? What did he mutter to himself as he was making a tent? Surely his letters are full of the utterances of God for the new covenant. We know what the verses were that were flowing through David, as they are documented in the Psalms, Chronicles, Kings, and by Solomon in Proverbs.

My verse is not a formula, some mantra I began to say before and after every writing session. It is a meditation of the heart. As I meditated on its truth while writing, God spoke to me through it. He showed me how to write, led me to resources I could learn from, gave counsel on how to budget my time, advised on character, plot and dialogue. God is an awesome writer. Just look at the bible!

This is not meant to imply that my books have the validity of scripture. No one may add or take away from the canon that makes up the law and the prophets, or the writings of the new testament which emerged from them after the life and finished work of Jesus the Christ.

Gathering it firmly in my mind the truth that Jesus is the author and finisher of my novels has helped me to rest in His guiding hand over my writing sessions. I want only to communicate how this has allowed me to co-create with joy, in a rich flow of His Spirit. As revisions mounted in number, I had to place my faith all the more on the great Finisher that the story would one day be done. And eventually, with each piece of fiction, there has come a time when I knew that it was ready.

Christmas Kittens and Writing Fiction

Like most believers who write, whether fiction, non-fiction, blogs, books, articles, I write because I have a spiritual mandate, an inner urge so forceful, I dare not deny it. I write because the Holy Spirit inspires me to think big. But thinking big is secondary to the mandate.

My books are developing a following today, in this world, even without much marketing on my part. However, I also enjoy my career, my “day job” in the medical field, and unless I am led to stop and write full time, I’ll do both.

It’s true that I am a creative and that writing gives me an outlet for that continually bubbling newness rising up from where soul and spirit entwines with God’s. It’s a magnificent challenge to write well, one I’ll spend a lifetime working toward and never achieving to my full satisfaction, I’m almost sure. But it’s a challenge worth the investment of joyous, painstaking hours adding up to a good chunk of my life.

Yet, there’s more! Writing is more than a way to express and develop creatively.

The truth is, that as much as I do believe my books are meant for today’s generation, my overwhelming sense with my first two novels is that they will serve future generations, as well. Spontaneously, it comes to me at times that my books will be read by people through the rise and fall of nations, by souls who are groping for a true understanding of the gospel in the end times. I see them stumbling upon my books, finding the living God and hope amidst a deep descending darkness, and then circulating them to their friends.

Already my books have sparked new faith in a number of people. And those are just the ones I know about. It’s hard to find the real gospel in these times, in any time, truly. I know that I have, but because I have, I know how difficult the challenge can be. I write in a way that will allow people to find it.

Another aspect of writing for me is to respond to the need for enjoyable, quality entertainment, especially among God-fearing people. How often have you come to the end of a long week, wanting only to sit and watch a good movie, listen to a podcast or read a good book, only to find the pickings are bare? All too often you’ve opened a book or a movie that promises action and/or romance of real intellectual and inspirational substance, only to find it leads your mind and heart into places you’d rather not go, places not even worth going. Suddenly you’re living in someone else’s anxious nightmare and all you wanted was a a little recreation! If you aren’t careful, many stories will take you from feeling fine to being depressed and hopeless. Quite the opposite of what quality entertainment should accomplish.

Good entertainment should inspire us to dream, not crush us. It might contain sad truths about this world, but in the end, quality entertainment enlightens and in so doing, it uplifts.

We need as many great movies and novels as we can get. Schindler’s List and The Passion, God’s Not Dead, Fireproof and The War Room, Gone With The Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Killing Fields, Snow Falling on Cedars, all are blockbuster hits because they enlighten as well as uplift. Stephen Baldwin has been making some very interesting, offbeat films which carry extremely powerful messages for people of faith. There’s always room for a well-done, quality movie, book or podcast that lets us relax without turning away from God, but rather turns us toward Him. If not turning us directly to God, a good story might also turn us to a greater appreciation of our purpose and our worth. Stories like It’s A Wonderful Life show us the dark and light side of life but in the end help us realize that each of us has value when we light the place we live in. We could also argue that NCIS and Rocky do that for us, too.

My writing is for the hungry ones, the thirsty ones, to let them know that there is a banquet they can enjoy in real life, and where to find it.

A simpler way of putting is to compare writing with rescuing kittens. I have two tiny kittens in my home right now. I am fostering them for the humane society, getting them ready for their forever homes. They are coming along nicely and they are going to make great pets. (photo below) From me they have learned how to enjoy being in someone’s lap, how to be careful with their claws, how to use a litter box, how a human can play with them, how to come when called (to the degree that cats ever do that!). Both of them were quite wild when I got them and they have made phenomenal progress. They are being imprinted with my love and prayers, with the peace, joy and TLC I give them. All this they will take with them for the rest of their lives, as a gift I am giving to those who will own them, long after these little furballs have forgotten my scent or my voice.

In the same way, our spirits can be imprinted with the personality and character of Charles Dickens or an Agatha Christie by reading their books, though we will never know them this side of heaven, and even if they were alive today, we would probably not have the opportunity to become more than superficially acquainted with them. My books, and every book worth reading, really, are like rescued kittens, sharing what I hope is the better part of me in common with the Creator of us all, for the delight and well-being and solace of the family here on planet Earth.

Christmas Kittens 2020