Saturday, March 31, 2007

Called to Write or Writing as an Offering?

Yesterday I read an excellent post on Terry Burn's website under his Testimony (www.terryburns.net). He is an author, speaker and an agent with Hartline Literary Agency. This is what he says, "For a person who wants to be, professes to be, or IS a Christian writer, the single most important question is, `Has God called me to write or do I want to write and offer it to Him?' What's the difference? Sounds the same, but it isn't. One is an offering from us to God. We initiate it. If we are genuinely called to write, He will initiate it. If He does, then it is an assigned task and an obligation, and we must be acutely aware that God always finishes what He starts."

When I read this, it spoke volumes to me. I had to think about my writing journey and what led me to write Christian fiction and nonfiction. Now when I look back, my journey is clear. I knew from age 12 that I wanted to be a writer, but I thought I would write historical romances. I had no desire to write for the Christian market. God called me. I ran. God chased me. I ran harder. During the periods of running, I wasn't quite sure He was calling me so I kept doing my thing. In my heart I didn't want to pray about it or explore it. I was afraid of what I'd hear.

It wasn't until the RWA national conference in Chicago (1999) that I really began to get a clue. I found myself sitting at a luncheon table, right beside a Tyndale editor. She wanted to know about my writing, and I fumbled as I explained that I didn't write Christian fiction. Later, I received an invitation to go to Tyndale's open suite. I got half way there, again I fumbled. What would I say to them? What would we talk about? I didn't write Christian fiction and had no idea where to begin if I wanted to. I returned to my hotel room and gave God a lot of excuses.

Later that year I got my first agent and I thought this was a sign that I had chosen the right course. It was just the devil's way of detouring me from God's path. In 2001 I wrote her a separation letter. For the next year I tried to get published on my own without an agent. Angry, I got in the car and drove down the road so I could freely yell at God where no one else would hear. He said nothing. Later, when I got home and had calmed down, I prayed again. This time I was too tired to rant and rave at Him. A small, gentle voice said, "you aren't published because you aren't writing for me."

Oh, I wept and cried right there in the floor. "I'm sorry, Lord. I'm so sorry." My husband tried to comfort me, but all I could think about was how selfish I had been. How much I had wounded my precious Savior. Broken, still in tears, I remember whispering, "if you want me to write for You, then you're going to have to show me how because I haven't got a clue." I was embarrassed to admit it, but I had never even read through the Bible for myself and I was now 32. Saved since I was nine, I was ashamed of my prayer life, my Bible knowledge, and my witness. Over the next three years, God threw me in Christian boot camp.

Last year I was just released from three years of Christian boot camp. This past year, I've just finished my first two internships, and now I have a clear vision of my writing mission. I'm moving up to that next level. I don't know if there are other levels of Christian boot camp. If there are, I will do my best to put my trust in God.

In pondering Terry Burn's question, I can say with confidence, I have been called to write creative fiction and nonfiction to glorify THE CREATOR. Have you been called to write for God, or are you taking a wonderful gift from God and offering it back to Him? Either way you will be blessed and others will be blessed by your work.

In His Service,

Jennifer

5 comments:

  1. Wow. What a powerful testimony, Jenn. I can relate to so much of what you said.
    I think I have definitely been called to write. It just took me a while to figure out that I was supposed to give it back to Him. But once I did, He blessed my work in ways I never imagined.
    Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
    We just need to remember His promise.

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  2. Jenn,

    I, like you, wasn't writing Christian fiction when I started. But God directed me in toward writing about Him, for Him. I have grown so much...still have a long way to go, but writing for God is an awesome honor.

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  3. Wow, Jenn. This is a great post. I want to go read Terry's original, because I really can't say for sure which of the two I am.

    Either way, I feel blessed to be able to write, and blessed to write the kind of fiction I'm comfortable writing and comfortable having my family read.

    Off to Terry's site....

    Missy

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  4. Jennifer,

    I didn't start out writing for Christ. But the moment I made the decision to do it, doors opened and I finally felt free. It has changed my whole world view and returned me to HIM. I strayed for far too long. I took advantage of knowledge I had and didn't share for far too long. Now, I'm starting over. I'm a youngster trying to follow Him. And I've never been happier!

    Thanks for this post. You always have the most meaningful things to say!

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  5. You know, I think I am called because I am so driven. But that doesn't mean I automatically know "how." I am driven to learn at a fast pace so that I can put down the stories on paper. I am driven to write and have 4 stories already planned over the next 2 years. How? I have no idea. So I offer myself to God to flow through me. He has to do it because I believe the stories come from Him as the Author of Creativity. Will I screw it up by not listening. I'm sure I will. Why? 'Cause I'm sooo not perfect. But all things will work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. Hmm, I think I'm called.
    I hope that I will love the Lord enough to offer back to Him the control and outcome rather than try to take it back.

    Angie

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