I gave a keynote speech at the Heart of America Christian Writers conference on this and this condensed version was printed in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/ -
I thought it might be appropriate to share it with you here:
We are living in the end times. The wildly popular Left Behind series put this on everyone’s minds. But they are a work of fiction and believers have varying opinions on what part of the books is true or not true, whether things will work as they depicted it or not. However we feel about it most believers think that we are living in that time.
The Apostles worked feverishly because they were concerned that they could not get their work done before Jesus returned for them. They expected it not only within their lifetime but lived with an immediate expectation of the event. I believe that is actually what God has in mind for all of us, to live our lives as though he’ll be back at any time.
There are many, many people who do not believe in the second coming. They say we’ve been looking for it for two thousand years and it has never happened so it isn’t going to happen. You know I’ve lived over 60 years and have never been run over by a train, but does that mean it can’t happen tomorrow?
Others do believe it, know what the Book of Revelations says and since they feel they can’t do anything to change things are just content to wait for it. We could do that, but is it what God wants us to do? Or does he want us to do what the Apostles did and work feverishly to get our work done before we are called home? I think we all know the answer to that one.
So how do we do it? If we are a writer and want to use those skills for the Lord, how do we go about it? I believe there are two ways to write for the Lord, to decide we are going to do it in which case it is an offering, or to be called to do it in which case it is a divine assignment and an obligation.
I know some people believe all Christian writers have been called but I’m afraid I don’t believe that any more than I believe that everybody who would like to preach has been called by God to do so. But let me quickly say I have no argument with those who believe otherwise and have no compulsion to have them see it my way. I’m just saying what I believe.
I wrestled with this myself. I decided I wanted to use my faith in my writing, but was it a calling or an offering? To tell you the truth I really didn’t want the obligation of it being a calling. The testimony on the process that I went through deciding what God wanted me to do is in the writing testimony at my website http://www.terryburns.net/. Let me just say I felt I was only a fiction writer, and it couldn’t be that I was being called to do it. Then my instructor smiled and said, “Yes, you’re only a fiction writer, and Jesus only told parables.”
I got the message.
Then I learned the next big difference between the two. If it was an offering, then it would be made out of my own skill and ability. If God was assigning me the task, He would see that my ability, skill and even character was molded to fit the requirements. Every time I stalled out in my writing, a sermon, Sunday school, Bible study or something else would provide EXACTLY what I needed, and I would be underway again.
Then came doubt. It wasn't going as fast as it should. If God wanted this, shouldn't it be happening faster? Bigger? Surely I had misunderstood the call.
No, all things in God's time. Look at how long it took Him to prepare Moses, Abraham, the Apostles, even how long Jesus himself was prepared before he began his ministry. All the figures of the Bible were prepared before God used them.
Who did I think I was that I thought I could just start writing and have immediate success? I realized patience was all-important particularly if it was a calling and not an offering.
Waiting, that’s a tough one.
If it were up to us, we'd lay out the whole plan so we could see every tiny aspect. We'd most likely disagree with parts of it, want to change a lot of it, and oh yes, have a back-up plan ready in case God's plan and His timing didn't work. Perhaps that's why God doesn't show us the whole thing at once. He knows we'd want to get our own ideas and our own timing involved.
Then I discovered that callings change. I came to realize that the first book in my Mysterious Ways series was a calling but the other two in the series were offerings. I have no problem with that. A sincere offering I’m sure is well received and blessed, but God was not in them in the same way that He was in the first one.
My calling changed again. I started feeling led to work as an agent, to help others get their words out where they will serve the Lord. Even though I continue to write, I started feeling I could have more impact by helping get more content out there. I turned my attention to that and specifically to helping new writers get published for the first time. I can’t afford to represent ALL new writers of course, but I have had some success at it.
So that’s my pathway here. How about other Christian writers? I think we all have to go through a vetting process of finding out what God really wants from us and then try to decide the best way to get it done.
If in fact we are in end times and we all want to use our talents to the best of our abilities to serve the Lord then it behooves us to prepare ourselves as best as we can, constantly work to perfect our craft while we wait on God’s perfect timing. The time may indeed be short and if it is, we all want to be about the Father’s business when it comes.