Sometimes I want to write solely for the sake of cleverly arranging words and phrases, delighting as their cadences and nuances animate them. Watching words flow from my headstick, through my keyboard and on to my monitor amazes me. Despite the frequent groping when my ideas resist confinement to my vocabulary (or maybe because I persevere in the groping), successfully taming those thoughts satisfies me.
Several years ago, I wrote five or six chapters of an autobiographical novel based on my two years in a nursing home for physically disabled adults of all ages. I quit writing when memories of sexual sin in that environment began playing with my emotions and making their way onto the pages (not a good thing). The story, so close to the truth of my experience in that place, ventured into an area where I knew I dishonored the Lord.
A couple years ago, I read the first few pages of my novel. The quality of writing surprised me, tempting me to return to the project. It had potential! But the problem remains that the culture among residents there bends steadily away from the Lord, even among those who claim to love Him. And in order to adequately depict that culture, I would have to put myself back into those old feelings, and consequently I’d repeat attitudinal sins against the Lord. So, although my writing shone brightly on those pages, I don’t see a way to write the story in a way that glorifies God.
Writing simply to experience the thrill of molding words that may, if I’m talented enough, draw readers into my world offers a certain allure. The act allows me to transcend my Cerebral Palsy–as if controlling words makes up for the dependence on others for my basic necessities of daily life. It gives me a sense of power.
Yet I understand that my writing must shun the trap of being about me. God gave me this ability, not to inflate my already inflated ego by impressing prospective publishers, but so that He could use me to glorify Him.
As much as I enjoy the act of writing for its own sake, I really don’t want to “wag the dog.” I need to keep in mind that my writing ability is merely a tool of ministry, not a toy for amusing myself. Or my readers. The writing skills that God has graciously given me must show off His brilliance, letting my readers see how worthy He is of adoration. If He gets obscured by any cleverness I have in turning phrases, shame on me!
Therefore, as much as I delight in the act of writing for its own sake, I must remember its greater purpose. I can’t permit my love of language to overpower the task of drawing attention to the Lord Jesus Christ. These words that I manipulate must never, by their artful arrangements, develop a texture so rich that it distracts readers (or me) from Him. I pray regularly for the ability to write creatively and skillfully. I also pray that any creativity or skill my writing possesses will only serve to magnify the wonderful Lord I love.