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Faith Imagined: Writers' Grace

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

June 20, 2010

Writers' Grace

Many times after I write a post based on an insight that the Holy Spirit has given me, people will mention another aspect of the insight that I didn't explore. Or I read posts that describe beautiful, God-given insights, and I will discover a different angle based on their research. It seems that no matter what I read or write, there is always more to it.

People who write about godly insights offer up their efforts only to realize that they've come up short. We will never be able to describe the fullness of every God-given insight. There will always be a different angle, a different aspect, a different interpretation, a different application and a different relevancy. This realization can cause writers to shirk back or give up. Why would we continue writing on matters that we will never be able to fully explain? Why do we willingly risk getting attacked, condemned, criticized and humiliated?

I've come to a few conclusions that help me claim Writers' Grace.

First, the Word of God is living: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4.12 NIV).

God's Word doesn't change, but I believe that it is organic like a beautiful tree. Its roots run deep, its branches stretch wide, its limbs reach high, each leaf is unique and each fruit tastes different! Therefore, when I describe a God-given insight, I'm only able to write about what I could capture. The tree is too much, too powerful, too awe-inspiring for me to do it justice, but I can explain the little bit that the Holy Spirit has given me.

I love the book of Job, especially in chapters 40 & 41 when God finally speaks up after remaining silent for so long. God gives Job a glimpse of His magnitude, and Job is overwhelmed. Job replies, "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know" (Job 42.3b NIV). Even Job who was "blameless and upright," felt inadequate to understand the works of God (Job 1.1 NIV). So I've decided not to worry about having the fullness of God's knowledge because it's not possible. I just want to make sure that I get all the insights that God has prepared for me.

Second, if we knew everything we wouldn't need God. God gives us tidbits of His yummy insights as we draw near to Him. The more we eat of God's Tree of Life, the more we crave it. Yet, we will never be able to consume the entire Tree. So every Christian writer needs to wave a white flag and admit that she doesn't know everything and she never will. Also, we need to give each other some "plate room." We look at another Christian's plate and complain that he is consuming different leaves than we are, so somehow his spiritual food is wrong. However, many times the leaves on his plate were plucked from the same branch that we got our leaves from.

Third, our lack of understanding keeps us reliant on others. It's easy to feel super-spiritual when we are by ourselves; though, once we are around people for a while, it becomes painfully obvious that we still have a lot of growing to do. God wants us to learn from each other; otherwise, He would have ended the commandment at "Love the Lord your God" and not have added "'Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22.37-39 NIV).

I imagine Christians who seek godly insights as collectors of the Tree of Life. They each have their arms loaded with different leaves, fruits, bark and soil. When I learn from them, I acquire all the treasures that they have found. I enlarge my image of the Tree. As long as their treasures come from the Source, who am I to judge if their leaves come from a different part of the tree than mine? In fact, the broader my collection spans, the better understanding I will have of the Tree's greatness.

I love the story found in Mark about the disciples who ran to Jesus to tattle tale on an unknown man driving out demons in Jesus' name. Jesus' reply was interesting: "'Do not stop him,' Jesus said. 'No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us'" (Mark 9.39-40 NIV).

This story is where I found my Writers' Grace. If we, as writers, are driving out the Enemy in people's lives and bringing them closer to Jesus, we are on the right track. If we are sitting with God and gaining His insights, it doesn't matter what side of the tree they come from. No single person can know the breath and depth of God's knowledge. No single person will have the end-all to one insight. What a relief!

So before we go criticizing others who are willing to expose themselves as fools for God, we need to ask ourselves this: "Is this insight rooted in the Tree of Life? Does this insight point to Jesus? Are people being drawn to Jesus because of this insight?" We can apply this same standard to individuals, churches, ministries, etc. They might not be a part of our little circle of influence, but they could be a part of God's unending circle of influence.

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Blogger Molina Mania said...

After reading this I get a better sense of myself and God. I feel like this was written for me and others who are new and unexperienced to finding God and following his words. What you wrote helps those of us newbies to see that its okay that we don't know all of God's words. And those who think they know everything still have more to learn maybe even from us newbies! I am not sure if I am on the same page but thses are my feelings after reading!

12:10 AM  
Blogger Family, Money and Stuff said...

Hi Alisa!

I love this post ;) And what timing too! I JUST finished posting about a little moment with God and must have reread it 4-5 times, thinking "I just KNOW I'm missing something!" I feel I haven't grasped the entire impact of the moment ...

I love the image of many people eating from the tree of life, and your saying "In fact, the broader my collection spans, the better understanding I will have of the Tree's greatness." Wow. I really want to get that - to understand acceptance ... to understand that I'll never fully understand. (in this life, anyway.)

Thanks again, Alisa, for being vulnerable and real. I'm so blessed by your ministry. God uses you powerfully.

12:19 AM  
Blogger ********Shelly******** said...

Wow....all I can say is that this is perfect timing for me. Thank you for your obedience in sharing what God has given you to share! Now I, too, claim "writer's grace" to continue my journey :)


12:19 AM  
Blogger Lynda Young said...

Great post. It's also why we never stop learning. Even the most "mature" Christians have something new to discover about the word of God. God's Word is forever fresh.

2:53 AM  
Blogger V said...

Proverbs also talks A LOT about wisdom... love Proverbs and Job!
There is always something to learn, a new facet to what we know, and I think that's pretty cool, because now I know that I can always keep learning (study geek here)... time never stops, learning never stops... wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. Proverbs 9:11

3:25 AM  
Blogger Leah @ Point Ministries said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. So often I have written a post and knew that it was what God was speaking to my heart. Then, as others commented their hearts discerned different things that blessed me so. At first I was tempted to think, "Flitter, why didn't I think of that." Then I realized that is the beauty of the Living Word.

Thanks for putting my feelings into words. Blessings to you!!


6:56 AM  
Blogger Missie said...

It's easy to feel super-spiritual when we are by ourselves; however, once we are around people for a while, it becomes painfully obvious that we still have a lot of growing to do.

Wowziers! This one hit me right on the nose!

7:28 AM  
Blogger For His Glory said...

Thank you Alisa for taking time to write this. I know others have said it, but it was a right now word for me too! The Lord used it to answer alot of the thoughts that were running through my mind the night before. So thank you!

7:58 AM  
Blogger Braley Mama said...

Thank you for writing this. We so need to be ....encouraging one another and building each other up, and loving each other not tearing each other down. It is not about Theology it is about God and making sure others know Him. I struggle with not preaching at people but just showing them love. Great post as always.
Who said these things to you? I think all of your posts are spot on!!!!!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Thank you for your faithful posts! Also, THANK YOU for your prayers, encouragement, and support.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

Alisa - great post today! I know just what you mean. sometimes the comments on my post are filled with such great nuggets that I didn't get out of it and someone else just nailed it!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Wanda said...

Wonderful post. The entire body of Christ is needed for the building up His Kingdom. Knowledge puffs up but love builds others up. When we each share our bit of revealed light, we get a clearer picture of who is.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Joan said...

Alisa - thank you for this encouraging and timely post. So many times, I've struggled with writing an article or even a blog post because of fear. First, fear of writing something that wasn't doctrinally sound, but more often fear that I didn't have enough knowledge to write about a particular subject. But the Word of God is active and living and is just as relevant today as when it was written thousands of years ago - one correct interpretation, many applications.


3:15 PM  
Blogger Mark & Jennifer Smith said...

i have to agree with both alisa & missy! it is so easy to think i am spiritual or doing pretty darn good, that is until i spend time with others! lol! i loved reading this blog! thanks, alisa!

5:04 PM  
Blogger Hippie4ever said...

Beautifully written, love the imagery and so TRUE :)

5:56 PM  
Blogger OceanDreams said...

I feel like I have many many more things to learn with my walk in the Lord and how to act/respond to others. I know that God will continue to deepen my walk and understanding to others...

6:38 PM  
Blogger Alene said...

Thanks friend. Needed this one!

9:58 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Amen sister. Wonderful insight. I am always refreshed by what God puts on your heart to share with us. :)

3:22 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Writer's grace- I definitely need a lot of it! Been struggling with not giving myself any, as I have dealt with certain setbacks in my book project. What a great post of encouragement, Alisa! I really needed to read this one!

I think I might be sounding redundant! don't I often say that!

4:11 PM  
Blogger Amy Sullivan said...

It is so difficult to put yourself out there, but you are so right when you say "No single person will have the end-all to one insight". I agree this is an important burden we don't have to hold!

7:11 PM  
Blogger Bernadine said...

"Writers' Grace", I've never thought about that before Alisa but what a great way of looking at it. A friend once told me God gives all of us a piece of the puzzle and when we put it all together we get the whole picture.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Dean Spencer said...

I really love how you use God's Tree of Life as an analogy. It really is remarkable how God stirs our hearts and reveals His truth in us. I wholeheartedly agree that no one, not even Job, understands the height, depth, or length of God's wisdom. But just like we all make up the body of Christ, it is God who reveals a portion of truth to each one of us, and when we bring all these pieces together, we have a much better understanding of that truth. Thank you so much for sharing what God has revealed to you.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

Wow. This post just about knocked me on the floor.

The phrase that really got me? "If we knew everything we wouldn't need God." Simple, but so profound, and I have been really struggling with this lately. When will I learn to let God be God and do the things that He wants to in my life? His plans are better than mine, His thoughts are higher.

Thank you for sharing your heart. God bless!

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Victoria said...

I've spent the last month or so under attack. If I'm honest, it has been going on this entire year and finally screams straight at me to run and hide and forget the writer side of me. Forget the calling, as I'm clearly not holy enough for any such calling. Reading this reminds me that whatever gifts God has given us were meant to be returned to sender! I'm encouraged and I haven't felt that in a long while. Thank you so much for sharing what God placed before you!

8:11 AM  
Blogger ********Shelly******** said...

I came back to visit this post again and quoted you on my latest blog post....hope you don't mind! :)


11:13 AM  
Blogger Melinda said...

Great encouragement to a fellow writer! That is why there will always be room for everyone who God has called into writing ministry. God is speaking to each of us in a unique way and is giving us life experiences that results in a very personal and special way of viewing His grace, love, mercy and judgment.

Reminds me also not to compare myself to other writers and think I come up short. He has a unique message for each of us to give. It's our responsibility to share what He's put on our hearts.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous D.J. at The Quiet Quill said...

I'm so glad that I happened upon your blog! Precisely because God's Word is living and active, He can speak to us in such multifarious ways. Yes, the insight the Holy Spirit gives to me can never fully take in the whole of the tree as you've eloquently put here.

Nice to "meet" you.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Stuff could always be worse said...

I love anything from the Book of Job, Such a great post again

7:54 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

Beautiful analogy, Alisa.

Thank you.


9:33 PM  
Blogger Karen Lange said...

Good post. You can almost always take a topic (Biblical or otherwise) and extend it in many directions and angles. Let us not miss what one angle has to say while chasing the other...a time and season for everything.

1:47 PM  
Blogger LittleWomen21 said...

Oh, this is such a good post! Writer's Grace... I am definitely bookmarking this one. I love your examples from Job and from Mark, and I think it is so wonderful as writers and Christians we get to share aspects of God with each other.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5lbs of grace - I need that! I grew up thinking that I wouldn't know I was saved until judgement day - and until then, it was a gamble - was I good enough? I cannot explain the liberation I felt when I discovered that I was heaven bound from the day I accepted Christ, loved Christ and lived for Christ - despite missing it - yes, God gives us 5lbs of grace - Thank you, God!- and thank you Alisa for writing such a healthy reminder!

12:23 PM  

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