I’ve encountered this question several times as I’ve written stories.
Does God really care about this story? I mean, it has no eternal consequence, right?
Doubt crept into my mind and I backed away from telling stories. Novels weren’t “big” enough for a ministry. They weren’t flashy like a nonprofit, or a church ministry. They had no weight to them because they were just… stories. I tried finding my “niche” outside of writing – outside of what I knew was my calling. It’s no surprise that I came up empty handed. This went on for 2 years, until I eventually came back with a story burning in my heart. This story, was the beginning of “The Insurrectionary Gray”. Three years ago, I was on my way home from visiting my brother on a military base, and I thought of an idea. I wanted to write about a soldier. So, I pulled out my notebook and began writing the premise, just like that. It took next to no thought as I began feverishly penciling the backstory of my main character. Then, I was home.
Tirelessly, I worked on this story and became wrapped up in it. I wrote 6 chapters or so, then started over because it needed to be first person to really pack a punch. In with new subplots, out with the old. I loved it, and I couldn’t wait to show the world my masterpiece. When it was over, I shared it. Then, with reader feedback, I began editing. I edited it again and again, then the familiar doubt returned.
This story had no eternal consequence. The message I wanted to convey would surely fall on deaf ears and people would close the book in the exact same mindset with which they started. My characters, stories, and themes would be forgotten as soon as people read “The End”. I didn’t want to see it again. I poured two years of my life into this story, and now my mind had convinced itself that it didn’t matter. What a waste!
With time, I came back around to the story and reread it. Slowly, I fell in love with Kade Jordan and his story. I loved his message, and I convinced myself that it “mattered” again. Now, I was serious about publication. This was it, this is what I was called to do!
Then, guess what came back around again as I was preparing for my first writer’s conference? Doubt. Fear.
Frantically, I set out to keep polishing the story and making sure it was shining. There was no time for thinking now! I was already committed to this thing, and I was going to follow through! Shoving the doubts into the back of my mind, I kept them locked up and refused to deal with them. That worked for a while, but then I knew I could not hide them away any longer. I had to do some serious soul searching.
While I was searching, my writing was my “protected thing” from God. It was unconsciously saying, “No, God. This is mine, and You have to wait until I’m ready before I let you have it. What if you tell me not to go through with it? Then where will I be? My life plan will be ruined. Everyone will start giving me that smug look they usually do when they find out I’m just coasting again. They’ll think I’m pointless just like they used to.”
Slowly, the Lord nudged at my heart. I was reminded of the verse in Colossians, which now serves as a banner for me.
“… that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Col. 1:18)
Did God have preeminence in my writing? Had I surrendered that part of me to Him? Was my heart saying, “Just use me, Lord. Even if you have to ruin me first, just use me”?
It was not.
“But this is ME, God! This is the one thing that is MINE that no one can touch!” I said, ignoring the truth that God was speaking into my heart. He reminded me that if I held something up between me and Him, then He had more than enough power to take it away. He is a jealous God, and will not compete for the throne of my heart with anything.
Surrender was hard. It still is. Some days my prayers come out as, “help me to be successful” instead of “use me if You will”. It’s a perspective shift that hasn’t come full circle yet, but isn’t life just like that?
Then, I began to read stories and I noticed how my thoughts changed because of them. I saw a change within my heart at the end of a story that had a good, moral meaning to it. I experienced how a fiction novel changed my heart, and then it all started mattering again.
I still feel the peace that washed over me when I realized that it was not up to me to get my life in order. It was not up to me to make my book marketable, it was not up to me to make sure I was likable enough to be able to pitch the book well, and it was not up to me to make myself a success.
Why? Because this was not my story. This was God’s story that He planted in my mind to be told, and I just carried out whatever ideas He allowed me to come across. If I fall flat on my face, well then guess what? Jesus will pick me back up and show me where to go. With God, there are no dead ends. There are no pieces too broken. There is no “too far gone”. Sometimes, though, there’s a “that’s the wrong way, Caity. Come on back now”. My job is to tell the story as best as I can, and let the Savior do the rest.
So, does God care about my story? Yes, because this book was His long before it was mine, just as I was His long before this story came into my mind. If The Insurrectionary Gray never becomes published, well then guess what? I’ll be fine, and it will not be a waste. It started out between me and God, and that’s how it will end. I poured my heart into every word and every sentence. I prayed, I studied, and I deserted. I put the story before God, then gave it back to Him. Through it all, this story has grown me closer to Jesus. I am His, and He is mine. Whether or not His story gets told, I reckon that’s up to the King. It’s the same way for you, too! Whether it’s a story, a career, a ministry, etc. It’s not up to you to be anything but faithful.
We worry so much about things that God has already worked out in His way, we just have to press into Him.
Leaning > Leading.