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Reading in Order to Write: An Exhortation to the Christian Writer

I open my Bible. I read. I go beyond reading and I know the Word. The Word goes in. It becomes my life. It becomes the root of who I am. And the more I dwell in the Word of Life, the more I have words of life to write, to speak, to live. IMG_1546

It has been ten days since the 31 days of writing challenge ended (care to check out my 31 posts here?) and I feel like I haven’t written in years. It was amazing how quickly I was able to get into the habit of writing daily and then fall out of it again just as fast. But there is a hole on the days I don’t let my fingers carry the words of my heart across a word document. I want to write, and I am more complete as myself when I do.

But I don’t want to write just anything. I don’t want to write just to be able to hit publish at the end of the day. I don’t want my words to become empty or trite from attempts to just get another post up. I want my words to have meaning, to have depth, to touch those who read it or at least expose myself more to what is true and beautiful.

Words matter. They really do. Words spoken in haste and without thought can cause damage. We’ve all suffered from the consequence of that. But words carefully crafted and presented with intention have the potential to offer life into the soul of another. Or even your own soul.

If I am to be a writer I want to be a writer that uses words to speak life. I want them to matter, to make a difference, to ignite a spark in the deepest part of the human heart. Try as I might however, I can’t conjure up life on my own. I cannot will myself to compose something meaningful. I cannot pour out until I have been poured into. Just as a research paper with no external research from other minds and scholars would receive a failing grade, so also would a collection of words mustered up on my own fail to pass on anything worth meaning. I am finite. I am a creature. I am not of my own person able to write something life giving because I am not the life giver.

In his book Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson tells of Karl Barth’s journey to being a Christian writer, mentioning his schooling by the entire Holy Spirit faculty – meaning the Word of God. “Barth became a Christian reader, reading words in order to be formed by the Word. Only then did he become a Christian writer.” 

It is easy to write without reading. It is easy to forget we are the creature and not the creator. It is easy to fall into believing that we are smart, gifted, good with words, slipping quickly into an elevated perception of who we are on our own. It is easy to think that we can produce something meaningful.

It is usually about then there’s those haunting words heard from Ecclesiastes. Meaningless. Meaningless. There is nothing new under the sun. Quickly despair strikes. I can do nothing. My work means nothing. My words are no better than the thousands of others saying the same thing. Meaningless. 

These extremes pull us toward one end or the other. Inflated egos and aimless frustrations fill this world. But Christ offers us more. He offers us something between pride and despair. He offers His life giving Word. He bids us take and eat it. To devour it. To let it become our essence. And as we breathe in His Word, we at last have something to offer. We have Him. We have His truth. We have words from the word.

In a world hungry and aching to be filled we have the opportunity to give substance, meaning, and depth. We have life to speak, words of vitality to write. The more we immerse ourselves in His truth, the more significant the words that we speak become.

To all Christians who write I offer one exhortation: No matter how excellent of a writer you are, no matter how easy it comes to you, no matter how many ideas you have – be sure that they are the fruit of a soul rooted in the Word. After all, the Word came to dwell with us, we must go to dwell in it. IMG_1621

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Brenda Kelly
    November 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Amen, sister! Excellent words!

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