I’ll tell you a secret that only my best friends know: I’m an odd combination of fearful and arrogant. And although I like experimenting with my craft, I am very wary of experimenting with my life. But oftentimes, these two areas meet and demand a response from me.
I was born and bred episcopalian and one of the mottos I liked from that denomination is the denomination of the Episcopal Missionary society:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me a light that I might tread safely into the unknown.” And he said to me, “Go out into the darkness and place your hand into the hand of God. That will be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
Isn’t that a great motto? And for the fearfully arrogant, it’s very reassuring.
Ever since I was a kid I wanted to do great things for God. Different things for God. I understood that every child of God was unique and was called to do something only he/she could do. I assessed my various skills and contemplated all the things I was: woman, literature major, lover of puzzles, Black, woman, romantic movie lover, mom, etc. And did my best to put all those qualities, skills, and traits into my writing.
For me, this meant trying to write a novel that would be acceptable to both secular and Christian readers. For me, it MEANS writing another novel that will be acceptable to both sets of readers. It means believing that the story I now have in my mind –something of a game, if I really think about it– is actually a story God has called me to write.
The story is called Inheritance and the writerly game I’ll be playing will be based on the proposition: what if the church had continued to be like it was in the book of Acts? And, how will I depict the Christian community in such a way that it’s obvious to Christian readers what I’m writing about yet totally unobvious to secular folks or non-Bible readers? It’s a game, it’s a puzzle, it’s a challenge.
Of course, a bit of bravery on my part is necessary. And a whole lotta trust in God. But something in me keeps saying that this is what God wants me to do and I really should just jump into the story and trust it all to work out well in the end. That is so hard to do. Of course, most of the stuff God calls us to believe is downright impossible. That’s why he asks us to do it. And honestly, it would be great if God would give me a sign AS I plodded along with this book that He is helping me. But often he doesn’t. Or else he gives me the sign after I have finished my appointed task.
It seems to be one of God’s traits. Perhaps he wants us to know how to trust His love and care and power. But often in the Bible He gives a sign AFTER a situation when some poor soul needed the sign BEFOREHAND.
I think of the man who wanted his son healed. Jesus chided him and said, “you people always seek after a sign.” The man left and only got the sign after his son was healed. Then there was Moses:
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”
And He said, “Certainly, I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship at this mountain.” (Exodus 3:11-12 NAS)
What does it say to me? That as a writer I might only get the reassuring sign after I have accomplished what I set out to do. For the life of me, I can’t understand now what use it will be to get a sign after I’ve worked out my vocation with fear and trembling. But I trust that in the future I’ll understand.