Last night, I was soaking in the tub (a ritual I try to fit in at least once a week). While enjoying the fluffy, warm bubbles around me, I began to pray to God over many different matters concerning DW's outreach. As I waited on the Lord to renew my strength on several matters, the weirdest thing happened... my mind shifted completely and I started plotting out a whole story line for a Christian fiction novel. In less than a minute, I had instantly come up with the name of a heroine, her friends, their adventures, the title of a book, and the biblical lesson to be incorporated between the lines of the story. All I had to do was get out of the tub, grab my laptop and start typing out the first chapter.
But wait... what about praying for DW?
As someone who writes regularly for the sake of sharing Jesus and not a fictional character, I found it strange that this idea surfaced in the midst of my prayer time with the Lord. So before making a move, I began to pray again... this time asking God specifically, "Lord, is this really what you want me to focus on right now?"
Suddenly, I remembered something that had happened at least fifteen years ago. Way back when, I had gone to help out an acquaintance clean and organize her home because her belongings had gotten a little out of hand and she had asked me to come support her as she endeavored to simplify her life. As we cleaned and catalogued her material belongings, she suggested we kick it up a notch and attempt to clean out her bedroom closet (or as she put it, "The Black Hole").
When I walked into her closet, I was absolutely astounded by the hundreds and hundreds of romance novels she had accumulated. I had never seen so many. To be honest, I was more surprised to see these novels in HER closet. This was a woman who regularly proclaimed Jesus as her King, but who was also secretly feeding a sinful appetite for unholy secular material filled with explicit and inappropriate sexual encounters. These fictional books were brimming over with stories of worldly passion and desire... pages and pages of artificial love posing as "romance" marketed to the masses of weak-willed women for consumption to feed their fleshly appetites. "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth." (2 Timothy 3:1-7) In short, these books were fake, unholy wastes of time. These books... these idols... were nothing short of garbage in the eyes of God, and I was happy to see her rid her life of them.
Anyway, as I sat in the tub and remembered this woman's collection of books, I started to pray further about my newly thought up Christian fiction novel. And then the Holy Spirit graciously shared with me this wisdom...
How easy it is for me to become sidetracked from God's plan... to run ahead of Him with my own ideas rather than walk with Him and focus singularly on His ways. The Holy Spirit was showing me that the enemy was trying to stifle my prayers over DW's ministry by sidetracking me with something else "Christian". Something that I could easily put together and produce.
But really, what would my writing a Christian fiction novel produce? A good laugh? A clever plot? A girlie story line with a happy ending that provides a small, general reference to God? Is that what Jesus instructed me to do with my time in Matthew 28? Or did He not call me to go and make disciples of all nations - teaching them to love and know Him first - to obey everything He has commanded? I'm sure I'm going to hear a lot of opinions on this, but I'm also certain Christ would rather use my efforts to produce real fruit rather than 300 pages of nice fluff.
After personally reading many Christian fiction novels, I know that many of them are nice for meeting MY DESIRE to be entertained... and that's about it. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with good, clean entertainment from time-to-time. In fact, I would agree that our world needs to see more wholesome forms of amusement. So, please do not misunderstand me... I do indeed support those who are called to produce quality faith-based materials and productions that point others to seek after Jesus Christ. However, I fear that many women of faith spend their time substituting Christ's Word for a watered down Christian fiction novel... or movie... or conference... or you name it. We have filled our hearts and bookshelves with all sorts of stories, souvenirs and feel-good materials. But what have these items really produced outside of ourselves? And have we bothered to spend the same amount of time (if not more) deeply devoted to knowing the actual Word of God - reading our Bibles, memorizing scripture passages, applying His truth in our daily lives? Also, are we seeking Him prayerfully on behalf of others? Are we boldly sharing His new way to everyone we encounter?
We must be careful, ladies. For just like the romance novels collected in my old acquaintance's closet, these Christian novels (and other materials) can also become garbage in the eyes of our Master if we put their plot before His plan.
I encourage you to assess how frequently you latch onto things that are stamped with the theme of "Christian" that are really produced to entertain YOU rather than to glorify the Name of Jesus Christ. Yes, there are some good materials out there. And no, I am not encouraging you to ban all Christian fiction from your reading library. Just think about it's place in your life. Are these outlets keeping you away from actively pursuing our King's great commission? Have these stories become an artificial substitute that distract you away from knowing and following God's Word?
Please, pray over this matter in your own life. Resolve to seek the Savior FIRST and devote your life to walk with Him and focus intently on His ways! There is no greater treasure... no greater joy... than in the One and only, Christ Jesus. It is worth it to surrender everything over to our blessed Savior. Yes, Lord, we surrender it all. Focus our hearts on You alone.