Thursday, April 27, 2006

PH: Writing and its Impact on Faith

Have you considered how writing has impacted your relationship with Christ? I was recently asked this question. Writing has had the same impact on me that being in the ministry has had on my husband who is a pastor. When you prepare a work that you intend will communicate something to others, you feel the weight of that responsibility. It has caused me to spend knee-time asking God what he wants, but also a lot of time studying the Bible and other books that help me reach for a deeper understanding of the great mystery of God and of man’s response to Him. I sense him beside me continually now and I attribute that to a deeper understanding of knowing the person of Jesus Christ. When I walk through a dark season, I’m grateful for his vigil over my life, but also my awareness of it. Writers are students of life and my need to watch humans responding up close has made me aware of God’s gracious love feast that he continues to pour over all humanity.

I once wrote a book with Jill Briscoe’s son, Pete. He’s a Dallas pastor, a stable role model for Christian leaders, and just an all-around cool guy to know. He wrote of the high vantage point of ministry and how it caused him to know things first. But then how feeling the weight of that knowledge becomes a silent exercise in responsibility. Because writers are so aware of culture, trends, industry buzz, we often know things ahead of others. Learning to ponder those things in our hearts rather than exploit them is an exercise in self control. Writers can also become the target of criticism and are taught through experience to respond in mature love. The tremors that shake our industry to its core, scandal, market dips, irreligious books that become popular and lead readers astray cause us to seek God and His peace. We see a writer friend who has struggled so hard to make an impact with her books given a shred of limelight and we are overjoyed. A tiny, miniscule, mouse crumb of limelight falls on one of our books and we learn to exercise meekness. We work in solitude and, in spite of what some believe about novelists, most are seldom recognized. But in spite of the isolation and the long roads to deadlines, the vine of longsuffering grows a leaf and our character is strengthened. Who knew when we started out that writing would be an exercise in gaining spiritual fruit?

A friend or relative may ask why me why I slave over a book only to reap an advance that barely covers my living expenses. Yet when I consider the benefits, they are so close to the benefits of knowing Christ that I know in my heart I can’t help but sit back down to begin the next story. Writing has become so intertwined with my faith, I can scarcely tell one from the other. Perhaps like me, you live and breathe writing and reading. Your bookcases can scarcely contain your obsession and you can no longer see the carpet for the books, the notes, the research, and the abandoned time lines. Has writing impacted your faith? Is there another breath to be drawn?

Patricia Hickman is the author of Nazareth’s Song, Whisper Town, and the upcoming Earthly Vows.


At 9:57 AM, Blogger James Scott Bell said...

I can't remember who said it, but one well known writer remarked once that we don't write what we know; we write IN ORDER to know. The act of discovery that comes through writing carries its own reward. I think David knew himself much better after Psalm 51. Thanks for the post, Patty.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

For me, mt writing has helped me get more consistent in my quiet time with the Lord. I can't write a decent thing without Him! If I gain nothing else from my writing, I've become rich anyway.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger T. Suzanne Eller said...

I love this post, Patricia. I write for teens and it is a huge responsibility, but also a privilege. Thanks for being so real about this topic,

T. Suzanne Eller (Suzie)


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