Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shelving a Book in the Recycling Bin

In my quest to become well-read, I picked up a couple of books at Target recently. I write Christian fiction, but I want to read beyond that because I believe that Christian fiction can't be written in a bubble. First, there is beautiful writing out there by non-Christians, and I can learn a lot by reading it. Second, I cannot write convincing and relevant characters and plots if I ignore how non-Christians think and act (besides, let's be honest, sometimes that's how Christians think and act, too).

So, anyway, I picked up two novels. I knew they wouldn't follow my worldview. I didn't realize how far one of them went, though.

I recently listened to a woman share her testimony. She talked about making a decision that, from the world's perspective may have seemed cold or unwise: she chose to go on a mission trip to Africa though her father was sick and possibly dying because she felt God had called her to go. She also talked about the physical boundaries she and her husband set for their relationship leading up to their marriage. But her relationship with God is not one-sided. He's very overtly and specifically showed her he loves her through unique circumstances that, honestly, made me a bit jealous.

How can I have a relationship with God that's more like what this woman is modelling? This question got me thinking about being faithful to the Spirit's leading and about purity.

Enter this book. It is not the steamy and titillating kind of book that's all the rage these days, but I've been nagged by the idea that I need to abandon the idea of finishing it. I've hesitated to commit to tossing it because the book is highly praised by well-known sources. Also, I like to finish what I start, I spent money on it, and I want to learn from masters of storytelling. Besides, I knew it wasn't a Christian book when I started it and, again, I don't want to live or write in a bubble.

But I've come to recognize this nagging idea as the Holy Spirit telling me this book isn't a good investment of my time. The novel goes a too far in describing things that are not true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (see Philippians 4:8, NLT). I need to listen and invest my energies elsewhere. So, I'm shelving it... in my recycling bin.

This isn't to say that I'm done reading all non-Christian fiction. I see novels as a public conversation about worldviews, and to respond in a relevant way, I want to know what others are saying. But I don't want to wallow in it. I don't want to step deeper than I need to, deeper than the Holy Spirit says I ought to.

Where is that line? I don't claim to have the answer, but I can tell you that God does, and if we're seeking Him, he'll convict us. It's up to us to give up our silly reasons to continue on our current path and turn back toward the beautiful, two-sided relationship God wants to have with us.

In the end, that relationship is more valuable than anything on this Earth. It's time to surrender to it.

Your Sister

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