The Word is Jesus Christ John

Why Christians Should Write Fiction: The Power of Words and the Reason to Write Them

The Word is Jesus Christ JohnSeveral years back, a Mary Kay consultant came to my house. Before she left, she told me she thought I would make a good Mary Kay consultant and asked if I would be interested in joining her team.

I refrained from the urge to laugh and politely told her I would think about it. Me selling makeup is a laughable proposition to begin with. I am one of the lowest maintenance girls on the planet – if my makeup routine takes longer than 2.5 minutes, we have ventured into the land of improbability. Just ain’t happening, folks.

I later told her no, and not just for the above reason. In high school, I won every debate – but only when I agreed with the position I had to defend. Some people are great at selling anything you put in their hands or winning any debate, no matter which side of the argument they are on. That is simply not how I’m wired. I can only convince someone of something that I absolutely believe in, and when it came to Mary Kay, I couldn’t sell something I myself wasn’t sold on.

As I embark on my writing career, I find myself asking the same questions of passion and purpose behind writing. If I am going to put the work into this – and not just writing itself but everything that comes with it – I must be sold on it. I’m not just talking about believing in the quality of my writing; I’m talking about believing in the purpose of writing (and reading). I must be sold on fiction as a worthwhile pursuit if I am going to write it.

Is Writing Fiction a Worthwhile Pursuit?

Those musings have led me to mull over one persistent question with the Lord: why write, and why read? More specifically:

  • What’s the point in writing novels if they don’t end up getting published?
  • Since I can’t guarantee that any of them will get published, does that make writing them a work in futility?
  • What is the value of fiction? Are reading and writing a worthwhile pursuit when we have a lost and broken world that desperately needs to hear about Jesus before His return (which could be anytime, because none of us knows)?
  • Can writing novels be a Great Commission, Kingdom-building activity?
  • Scripture says do all to the glory of God – therefore, how do I write and read in a way that is purposeful and honoring to Him?

During my writing break over Lent, this question of “why write, why read?” was one of the central points of my reflection with the Lord. I could probably write 50,000 words about what the Lord is showing me from that time, but for today, there is one clear point I want to share:

Words have power.

There is a reason that people throughout history have burned books and emptied libraries as a way to contain ideology, limit thought, decrease self-sufficiency, and ultimately, control people. When you remove people’s access to written thought, you reduce their agency.

We see a clear example of this in our own country’s despicable history with slavery and racism: slaves were not allowed to learn to read or write. Why? Because reading and writing is knowledge, and knowledge gives agency. When the oppressed party exerts their own agency, it undermines the power of those in authority.

As I tell my 7-year-old daughter regularly: when you can read, you can learn anything. When you can write, you can think anything. Therefore words are a tool of power, which when yielded for good, can be utterly revolutionary, and when yielded (or revoked) for evil, can be utterly oppressive.

THE Word IS Power

As I reflect on the power of words, I cannot help but reflect on the power of THE Word. Scripture says Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins and rose victorious from the grave so that we can again have perfect fellowship with God throughout all eternity, is THE Word. Scripture says the entire created world and all of history point to Him, if we are willing to see it.

God doesn’t strip us of our agency and force us to see the world His way. He is not a tyrant blindly forcing us to succumb to His ideology; He is the loving Father teaching His children to read so that they may have the choice to believe truth. He has given us words and thought and free will. He has given us His Word, the Bible, which reveals THE Word, Jesus Christ.

THE Word, Jesus Christ, is the complete source of knowledge. He is the ultimate source of truth. He is the endless well of wisdom and understanding.

If words have power, THE Word IS power. Remember the quote I posted last week?

He utters His voice; the earth melts. – Psalm 46:6 (ESV)

That’s the power of THE Word. He alone has power to raise life from death. He alone has power melt the earth with the utterance of His voice. He alone has power to give us new life and restore the earth to the way things were meant to be. With the revelation of THE Word comes the revelation of the most precious thing: HOPE.

Writing Worthwhile Fiction

I want people to know that hope. That is my heartbeat. Therefore, my conclusion is simple – any reading and writing that points people to THE Word is purposeful and worthwhile. Any reading and writing that points my own heart to THE Word is purposeful and worthwhile. For when words draw us to THE Word, we encounter hope.

That has been my prayer since I first began writing stories as a child – that through my stories, people would see Jesus. Until He tells me to stop, I’m going to keep writing the kind of fiction that points people to Jesus. And if you, my readers, ever find that my writing ceases to fulfill that litmus test, by all means – stop me!

Lynn Austin: Influences That Shaped My Writing: Fellow Authors, Part 2

Welcome back! Ready for the second author who influenced my writing?

Drumroll, please…

Lynn Austin.

First of all, y’all have to understand that I read a lot (My sister and I both kept books in the bathroom growing up. Made for some long bathroom visits. Fellow moms of young children ask me how I have time to read…ahem. Try it. And nursing mamas, embrace the e-reader. But that’s a topic for another day.). I also read very fast. This means that I’ve read a LOT of books!

It’s extremely rare that I remember an author’s name, much less the title of a book. Because I have read so many, a book must impact me in a very deep way for me to remember it – otherwise it is namelessly filed in the “books I’ve read” mental folder. Candle in the Darkness is one of those few, and the first that I remember from adolescence on. I can’t remember the first time exactly that I picked it up, but I know that it changed me. I wept as I read it, on multiple occasions, and still do when I re-read it. I could feel the heroine’s pain as if it were my own…the utter, gut-wrenching heartbreak at the crux of the story. The inner conflict as she wrestled with impossible choices. The utter horror as she understood what was happening to her fellow human beings (Go buy it. I won’t spoil it for you 🙂 ).

If you pick up my copy of the book now, you’ll see markings throughout (many of them in purple, because let’s remember, I was in junior high the first time I read this). I underlined quote after quote of powerful truth woven into a fictional story. The book challenged me to begin wrestling with the issue of racism and a godly response to it – an issue I am still working through that is extremely relevant where I live now, in Kansas City (watch this 13-minute video and you’ll see what I mean).  It made me wrestle with questions of right and wrong, the endpoint of loyalty when what’s right is at stake, and the hope for marriages that seem broken beyond repair.

Lynn Austin Candle in the Darkness Favorite Books
The cover has since been updated since this, but this is the cover I have.

Candle in the Darkness is still one of my favorite books. I have probably read it a dozen times. I have read many of the other books Lynn Austin has written (see list below). All of them are good. All of them have shaped me. All of them have impacted my faith. All of them have prepared me for marriage. Most if not all of them are over 400 pages, which as a fast reader who enjoys deep characters and stories, I appreciate!

Lynn Austin is one of those writers who possesses the unique ability to use fiction as a vessel of transformative truth. Her characters are real – believable and flawed, not in the “she-had-one-freckle” and “he-drank-too-much-once” kind of way, but in the “in-need-of-Jesus-every-moment” kind of way. Her characters grow and change, as characters shoulder, throughout the stories. Her romances are beautifully crafted but far from fairy-tale-like. Her stories are complex and fascinating. Her books center around historical themes that challenge us to ask tough questions about the past and present that shape our future.

How has Lynn Austin shaped me as a writer? Quite simply, she gave me a model for the kind of writer I wanted to be: the kind that uses fiction to challenge people to think, grow, and change for the better.

What novels have challenged your thinking on a topic? What novels stay on your bookshelf to be read over and over?

Other Favorites by Lynn Austin

I’m realizing as I write this I have some serious catching up to do! Visit Lynn Austin’s site for a full list of her books – there are several I need to read!

Hidden Places

All She Ever Wanted

A Woman’s Place

A Proper Pursuit

Until We Reach Home

While We’re Far Apart

All Things New

Fire by Night

A Light to My Path