Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Writing and Faith

To express our thoughts in our creative writing bears many of the same risks as learning to live by faith. As long as the thoughts are rattling around in our heads jostling against one another they are free to roam at will and can assume a kaleidoscope of different shapes. If these thoughts are inconsistent with each other they have free reign to work out the differences or settle for living together in ambiguity. However, when these thoughts have been brought out and expressed in the printed word, their flexibility automatically becomes curtailed. No longer fluid, they become subject to interpretation and critique by others who are unaware of their origins.

So it is with faith. As long as my faith is a series of loosely held convictions contained within my private belief system, but unrelated to the way that I live my life, it can absorb and include any new idea that comes along. It is all-inclusive, but directionless. However, when what I believe begins to shape my choices, my decisions, and my behaviour it shifts from a collection of disparate ideas to values that determine who I am and what is important to me.

We have the option of keeping our thoughts to ourselves and simply enjoying the mental gymnastics of tossing around ideas or creating a make believe world peopled by figures from our imagination. What a waste of our gifts that would be! It is only as we put our random thoughts on paper and organize and regroup and reshape and rework them until they somehow convey our convictions that they begin to find meaning. As we give birth to our imagined characters we introduce them through our stories telling of their feelings, their adventures, their joys and their sorrows. Their fictional lives reflect the realities that our readers know so well. When we dare to confine our vagabond thoughts to the printed page they take on a life of their own, nurtured by the investment that we have made and nurture those who interact with them as they read.

Our faith too can remain a private affair, a vague force that is available for sustenance in case of emergency. Such a faith will not stand up to the onslaught of disaster. The faith that is needed when difficult comes is one that has been explored and tested. It is certain of realities such as the omniscience of a gracious God, revealed in Jesus Christ, the fragrance of whose presence permeates all of life through the activity of the Holy Spirit. Not only does this faith sustain us in the challenges of life; it offers hope to those who observe the authenticity of it as they see its impact in our ordinary lives. It is not aggressively in their faces. It is graciously written in the fabric of our lives.

When our words have been committed to print, they may be misunderstood, misinterpreted and disputed. They will be scrutinized, criticized and affirmed. There is often little that we can do. What we have written we have written and we must let our words stand for themselves.

When our lives have been committed to living out an authentic faith, they too will be misunderstood, misinterpreted and disregarded. They will be judged, criticized and affirmed. Often we will not even know how others view our faith. It is not our affair. We are those who have committed our lives to a God, who knows all things and who sees the hearts of all. What He does in us and through us will endure and will nourish the faith of others.

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