You Aren’t Selfish.
You’ve probably heard the three words as many times as I have.
And they probably came out of the mouths of writers.
“Writing is Selfish.”
Because it means getting lots of alone time?
Because it is mostly creative?
Because you don’t necessarily have to put on pants?
Everyone who says those three words probably has a different reason.
But, you know, lately I’ve come to believe that these three words combine to form a sinister and, honestly, unfounded lie.
And you know where lies come from. The enemy.
As writers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that we’re being selfish, or we’re not doing very much, especially for the kingdom. If you are a discouraged Christian writer I’m here to offer you some inspiration as well as vision for why storytelling is not only not selfish, but is actually a holy pursuit.
Writing Is Holy
It’s easy to believe that our work isn’t important because we aren’t face to face with others the vast majority of the time. Often it can feel as though (if anything) we are ministering to a computer screen. It’s easy to see the process of writing as a mundane or even selfish task.
But lately I’ve been thinking of what an incredible and holy thing it is to be a storyteller. That goes for every writer out there: bloggers, fiction writers, screenwriters, freelancers, and nonfiction writers alike. This one’s for you.
The thing is, God loves the art of the story. When we step into the role of Storyteller, we reflect His nature and step directly into His line of work.
Here are some reasons why I believe this to be true.
Creation Through Story
By God’s very nature, He is a storyteller. He created the world in the very beginning by speaking it into existence.
Recently I watched The Book Thief (I don’t know if he says this in the book, but I hope he does) and my new favorite quote came out of the mouth of a character named Max:
Write. In my religion we’re taught that every living thing, every leaf, every bird, is only alive because it contains the secret word for life. That’s the only difference between us and a lump of clay. A word. Words are life, Liesel. Then, He turned the entire history of His interaction with humanity into a 66-book story.
This is true, at the very least, in the case of creation.
Revelation Through Story
Not only that, but He chose to reveal Himself through story. That’s what the Bible is–it reads so much more like a story than like a handbook.
He knew that would be the most effective vessel for us to understand Him, because that is how we understand almost everything else around us.
Instead of listing out simple facts about Himself, or handing us a self-help book called 10 Steps to Salvation, God wrote us a story.
When I hear some people talk about the Bible, it seems that what a lot of them want is a manual for life…maybe a simple, straightforward manual for living life and getting to Heaven without God.
It might sound harsh, but if I’m being honest I’ve wanted something along those lines at certain points in my life. And that’s just my sin nature trying to distance itself from God while still somehow reaping the eternal benefits of knowing Him.
The Bible doesn’t read like a manual, though. It reads like a zoomed-in and very personal history of the Israelites, and then it reads like the triumphant autobiography of the most important man to ever live, and then it tells an action-packed adventure story of the passion and love of the early church. Interlaced throughout the whole thing is the mysterious romance story of God’s obvious devotion to and obsession with His bride.
Relationship Through Story
Story is God’s way of telling us how He saw the world when it was young. It is His way of telling us about the establishment of His covenant with Abraham, and then of Israel falling away again and again and His long and patient chase after her.
Story is how we learn about the Son of God, what He was like as a human, and His indescribable gift to us.
Story is how we learn about the early church.
Then, in Revelation, God gives us a few spoilers about how this long story ends: He defeats every last trace of evil and then we live with Him happily ever after.
I believe that God wrote it all so that we might read it and fall in love with Him.
Your Testimony Is a Story
…and it changes things.
When I look at the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament, I notice that they all seem to have one thing in common: they all share God’s words through personal testimony of what they’ve seen.
They share God through telling a story.
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:39)
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)
According to Paul, we don’t even need to be good storytellers in order for our testimonies to be effective:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
We just have to be willing to open our mouths and tell the story.
How to use your gift for the kingdom
The fact that you clicked on this part of the blog tells me you might be a writer, and that means you’re probably pretty well-versed in the art of the story. That’s a gift, and you can use it to express the beauty of your testimony to a world desperate to hear it.
Have you ever thought of your journey with God as a story?
Well, if you haven’t, I’m here to tell you that it is, and it is a story that God can use to effect the lives of every single person who hears it.
That’s pretty powerful.
Every time you write, you are practicing for the moment you might get to tell someone this story. If you’re lucky, you might even get to weave parts of this story into whatever it is you are writing.
The Oldest Story: Good vs. Evil
I’ve often wondered why, if our all-knowing and all-seeing Creator knew that the devil was going to introduce sin to the world…why did He create him at all?
It’s a question that I’ve struggled with a lot in the past.
At first the sole outcome of this mental struggle of mine was frustration. There didn’t seem to be a good answer.
But then that struggle turned into a “what if.”
What if God created him in order to tell us a story?
The story of good triumphing over evil (think of movies like the Avengers, Star Wars,
the Spongebob Squarepants Movie, Dunkirk) seems to be a universal one. It’s the one that speaks to the heart of every human on the planet.
Every story I’ve ever heard is the story of good vs. bad, and that humanity as a whole loves telling and hearing those stories, and that there is a reason for that.
I have a theory that God planted within us this longing to hear stories of good triumphing over evil in order that we could understand that He is good, and He has victory over darkness–over the devil. That He will always have the victory.
I believe that He planted this longing in our hearts so that when we heard His story, the one that is told through the Bible beginning with the introduction of evil and ending with its eradication, we would rejoice and worship Him.
Of course, I’m not saying that God allowed evil to exist solely for the story of it all. Other factors came into play, I’m sure.
But I do know that story is our best way of understanding Him, because it is how we understand everything else. It is how we interact with and understand one another. It is how we were first taught about the world when we were young.
And I know that God would do (and has done) everything to get to us.
So, it follows that God would use the existence of evil to teach us–through the story of His triumph over it–about His nature…and about our place in that story.
As writers, we have the gift of continuing the legacy of this story of good having victory over evil. Everything we write involves–either directly or indirectly–victory over something if you look closely enough. In every fiction story, the plot has some kind of conflict to overcome. In every blog post, you tell your readers how to solve a problem (whether big or small). If you look closely, you’ll see it.
God Made You a Writer.
So go out and write.
And don’t worry about whether or not you’re being selfish, because I have to believe that all of the evidence points towards God loving the art of the story.
He is a storyteller. When we write we get to step into a facet of His nature that we might not otherwise discover.
All of the evidence points towards Story’s holiness.
And definitely don’t be afraid to “waste” time writing, my dear reader, especially if God has called you to it.
If you want some related further reading, here is a link to some more writing motivation for Christian writers.
Now go tell the story God has put in your heart.
Until next time,