I fall short in many ways. I’m sure I’m not a great pastor nor a good church manager, but I have regained my focus this past week.
As was John the Baptist, I am a man “sent by Christ” to be “a witness.” The Lord renewed this calling and assignment on Christmas morning–36 years ago to the date that I first received the truth about my sin and the Lord’s grace. During an early morning study time on Christmas morning last week, the Lord pointed me to Acts 20.24 as my verse for 2014.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24, ESV)
I am a witness of the love of Jesus for the lost, abandoned, fatherless, and those who have been discarded by the world. I am a witness of how weak ones–conceived and steeped in sin–are nonetheless loved by a gracious Father and treasured by a compassionate Savior. That’s why Jesus is Lord of my life. It is His doing, all by His grace. Of that, I am a witness and a sign. And I am healed of rejection and a broken heart. For I who was nothing am a son of the Living God (Rom. 8.14, 16).
Well, David . . . how do we know you can be trusted as a witness? Because Jesus gave the criteria for trustworthiness: John 7:18.
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” (John 7:18, ESV)
The Lord knows and so do those who know me best and have watched my life for many years.
It’s so good to KNOW whose we are, where we’re headed, and what our assignment is.
But gradually an urgency to write fiction took over; it was a vocation that seemed so exalted and sacred and beyond me I would not even talk about it. . . . Many writers are agnostic and have as their religion art, but just as many are conscious that the source of their gifts is God and have found thanksgiving, worship, and praise of the Holy Being to be central to their lives and artistic practice.
Yes. I am one of the latter. I believe that vocare (vocation–calling) is the fundamental difference between the writer who happens to be a Christian (and may be rather embarrassed to admit it) and the Christian writer (a disciple of Jesus Christ who writes under compulsion of the Holy Spirit).
The Apostle Paul understood this because he says that he preached under compulsion (1 Cor. 9:16; cf. Ac. 9:15; Rom. 1:14 NIV). Being a Christian writer does not limit us to Christian literature, rather God gives us the freedom and responsibility to explore life and exegete creation–always embodying truth in the metaphors he inspires.
God is also a Speaker. He travels and comments on his work and his writings through the Holy Spirit (who will bring back to remembrance all that is said, leading us into all truth). The best example is Jesus on the road to Emmaus:
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. . . And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:13-15, 27, ESV)
For many years now I have walked in a ministry of speaking the Word. I now sense that God is combining them in my life: writing and speaking. These facts encourage me as a writer and a speaker. I look forward to the doors of opportunity opening wider in my calling. I have a sense, overwhelming at times, of God’s tender oversight and care in what I write and speak. I know him to be moving my writing at times. I see–in the impact it has in readers–a confirmation to continue. I know in the personal correction and discipline in my life that I am being shaped for these purposes.
God is a Reader. Jesus says to the crowds, “Haven’t you read . . . ” implying, he had (Mt. 12:3, 5; 19:4; Lk. 4:16). I am encouraged as a reader and student of literature that God grants exceptional understanding in this discipline as well. Simply read the following passage in Daniel:
“As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” (Daniel 1:17, ESV)
If we will let him, God makes us into readers. Good readers. Readers who see more than what’s obvious, lying just on the surface. We will see the deeper truths behind the words, thoughts, and emotions shared by authors.
I want my writing, speaking, and reading to be filled with the grace and power of God. I hope those of you who know me will pray that God will bring this to pass in my life. That I might be a blessing and that my life would make a significant contribution to the lives of others.
Now in my early sixties, I often feel I’m getting a late start, but I MUST entrust that to Him. For he does all things well and makes everything beautiful in his time.
QUESTION: Do you sense God’s involvement in your writing, speaking, or reading? Please take a moment and share an example with us.
© 2011, David C Alves