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 did not wish to spend a large percentage of my life writing unless it was God’s will. I wasn’t asking for a best seller or even a certain number of five-star reviews to corroborate His will. I simply went direct, as I have for many things which have borne out for me. So it was that I found some rock-solid motivation for writing fiction in God’s will. Sounds pretty pretentious to think one can hear from God on specific matters, I suppose, when you have grown up on the bland diet most churches provide. They teach that God’s will is the ten commandments and maybe the two that Jesus gave on loving God and each other. And these are God’s will, but God’s will is also that we rejoice in His grace, that we walk by faith not sight and stop consulting with what we see, feel, and hear as our primary source of peace and belief. God also has a specific will for each of us, and it can be discerned. (See 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, he was special. Oh no. not true. But many of us have been unable to hear from God because we trust what our senses have been telling us and not the Word.

In a moment when reading His word as the logos became reading it as rhema specific to me, I understood the verse in Heb 12:1-2 to be adaptable to my situation:

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

The words rang through my mind, as the Holy Spirit spoke to me about my writing: Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of my books! I may be the author but what I write are the books He’s shown me to write from start to finish. It’s my job to keep consulting with Him. I have many ideas on what to write. I don’t suffer from writer’s block. However, I know I must write only what He has shown me to write. As the process of writing this book brought me to this place of hearing from Him, I prayed this scripture over my novels. The Lord led me triumphantly through numerous revisions to publication.

If you think about it, IF Jesus is the author and finisher of one’s faith, that means he is involved in every detail of our living it out. And since one of those details for me entails writing novels, then it can be reverently and respectfully applied to writing my novels, too. The play on words is absolutely wonderful, since author is so very applicable to the writing of a book.

You can do this with any activity the Lord has called you to, and I highly recommend it. Find a scripture or scriptures that apply with modern relevance to the work, pray them over your work as you are doing it, and it will give strength to your endeavor. I wonder what scriptures Paul would have chosen as he sat side by side with Priscilla and Aquila, making tents while staying in Corinth? I am not a betting woman, but if I were to bet, I would wager there were a few that the beloved apostle would have used, when he wasn’t writing the books of the new testament in his head, of course.

My verse is not a formula, some mantra I began to say before and after every writing session. It is far more. It is a meditation of the heart. And as I meditated on its truth while writing, the voice of God spoke to me through it. He showed me how to write, led me to resources I could learn from, directed my time as I allowed Him to.

Nor is my verse meant to imply that my books have the validity of scripture, with me as the amanuensis and Jesus dictating them. No no. In the same sense that He is the author and finisher of our faith, and the working out of it, so is He for my novels. Neither my walk nor my books are perfect, but He will make them beautiful, and He will use them. I have faith in this! Not in the books or in the other things I do as I am led to. It’s the same use of the scripture, applied specifically.

Gathering it firmly in my mind the truth that Jesus is the author and finisher of my novels helped me to rest in His guiding hand over my writing sessions. I could create with joy, in a rich flow of His Spirit. As the revisions mounted in number, so did I place my faith on the great Finisher to guide me on putting the finishing touches upon the story. Meditating and adopting this verse lets me rest in His timing for my books to find their way to the people who need them.

I haven’t met a lot of Christian authors who have adopted scriptures as a lifeline for their writing. Then again, I haven’t met a lot of Christian novelists with anything of substance who have placed their writing on the altar of God’s will, either. For this field, just as any other dubbed “christian”, including most churches, is a vast wasteland of those seeking first not the kingdom of God but the top marketing niches and numerous high ratings. They have not even considered whether their books are a heart’s direction derived from hours in the throne room of grace. They remind me of a line in one of Becky Wade’s novels Stay With Me, “But just like a set of keys you can’t find right when it’s most urgent that you locate them, she’d misplaced God somehow.”

There have been exceptions which I’ve come across; I’m sure there are others. Some started out that way and waned, others discovered God could be the Lord of their writing along the way. There is always redemption available. I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for awards and feedback and all the accoutrements of developing one’s field of influence. It’s just that for the Christian, above all else come the springs of grace from within the heart of the novelist, flowing through the novel itself. “For ye shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…” The knowledge of God that only comes with time in His presence and the Word.

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