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Sunday, December 7, 2008

An Audience of One

Let me paraphrase Calvin Miller: Writers are notoriously solitary folk; we spend far too much time alone.

In the process of writing, it is easy to bog down in the minutia and lose focus. We write for various reasons but to what purpose? It is often necessary to take stock of why we write. What motivates us? What fuels the indefatigable desire to communicate?

Ask: What is my purpose in writing? For many Christian writers, it's publication. If that's all that truly motivates you, the rejections will come with hurricane force and be crushing. Think about the reality of using a Godgiven ability for profit only. One, it's the very antithesis of God's character. Two, the book of Acts has something to say about this. You may recall a man named Simon the Magician. He was the big man on campus until Peter and John blew into town. Acts records that he even became a believer. But his heart (motive) wasn't right and he tried to get Peter and John to sell their trade secret so he could profit by it. What happens next is a clear teaching to us today.

The Messages puts it this way: Acts 8, When Simon (the magician) saw that the apostles by merely laying on hands conferred the Spirit, he pulled out his money, excited, and said, "Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!" Peter said, "To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that's unthinkable—trying to buy God's gift! You'll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now! Ask the Master to forgive you for trying to use God to make money. I can see this is an old habit with you; you reek with money-lust." It's where we get the word "simony."

Ask: What do I hunger after? We are put on this earth for primarily two reasons. To bless others and glorify God. Let this be your guide when you write. God Himself is the starting point. He alone knows what He's purposed to do with your writing. Let Him lead.

Ask: Whose your audience? Personally, much prayer and submission was required to be one with the idea that it is Him I write for--Him alone. While I endeavour to study and apply new learning to my craft, I continue to improve daily. I am also at peace with my gift being ultimately His. He's free to do with it exactly as He pleases. Writing for His glory encompasses writing in truth, clarity, and authenticity. It includes writing in integrity for His purpose whether or not there is personal gain. Check out a few of the Old Testament prophets. Jeremiah (for one) was expressly told (by God) to write down the things He spoke. And his message was summarily rejected over, and over, and over. Discouraged and frustrated, he even stopped for a time but found he couldn't contain the message. He said it was like fire shut up in his bones. Finally, he realized it was more important to please God than man.

Lesson. Being a faithful scribe doesn't mean anyone will listen, or that anyone will even read your work. But, if you're doing it all as unto the Lord, He will use it as is best. I mean, think about it. How lost we'd all be today (and down through the centuries) without all of Jeremiah's compositions. He had no way of knowing the large plans God had. I, for one, am eternally thankful that Jeremiah stayed the course and remained faithful to his calling. He wrote for an audience of One.


Terra said...

I saw you on twitter so came along to say hi, since I enjoy reading mysteries, and also review them. Cute photo of you and friend.
My first book is published and I am happy about it; it is about celebrating Christmas.

White Hot Magik said...

Same here I noticed you following me on Twitter and popped over to your webpage. Great message. I have been keeping a blog for several years now and it seems to me like there is always a push to make it commercial. I have resisted that. As I have been growing in the Lord, I am more and more moved to write about that. Again the temptation seeks in to listen to the world and make it something more. In the end I have to write for God and I only. Last night at church the message was from Jeremiah and I thought I should read through it. Today your entry convinced me.

Jane said...

Debbi - Right on - or should I say "write on". You put it very well - I'm thankful that Jeremiah, Peter, Paul and all those others that came before us and stayed the course, wrote what the Holy Spirit gave to them - for all of us - so that we could learn from their mistakes and grow into the disciples that Jesus intends for us to become. I, too, have thought from time to time about just keeping my mouth shut - but then - you know me - when the Lord shows me something wonderful - I can't not tell about it! HE is just too good to keep to ourselves. And, yes, He is the audience I want to please too. Your insights have inspired me once again! Bless you - Jane

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