March 07, 2013

Allowing God to Redeem Our Writing – Ramona Heikel

As writers, we brainstorm, draft, edit, ask for feedback, take courses, attend conferences, follow talented writers online, work harder and practice, practice, practice. All of this is intended to make us the best writers we can be.

As Christians, we are well aware of our limitations. We are human beings who fail and sin, and we can get on the trying-harder track in our quest to be better. But, especially at this time of year so close to Easter, we realize that we are incapable of making ourselves good in our own strength, wisdom and willpower. So we trust our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, to transform our hearts and lives by his power.

This month, if we’ve never done so before, maybe we can make a point to ask the Lord to redeem our writing. Or perhaps we can remind ourselves (and God) of a prior commitment to submit our writing skills and success to the one who can infuse divine power and influence into what we write.

Beloved Christian fiction author Francine Rivers is my hero in this aspect of relinquishing her writing to God. (I know, I’ve mentioned her before, but I just can’t seem to shake her!) I first discovered a book of hers in the endless racks of romance novels at the public library in 1992. It wasn’t labeled as a novel of faith or published by a Christian publisher, but the description on the back cover led me to believe it was written from a Christian perspective. That book moved me so deeply that I tried to find other novels she’d written, and it was easy because she’d written 13 of them (which sold roughly 3 million copies!).

But none of the older books could compare in Biblical truths to her latest, and some of them were actually too harsh for my liking. I soon found out why. As I read in an article in the May/June 1995 issue of Today’s Christian Woman, Francine Rivers became a Christian in 1986 and soon after, she stopped writing. She didn’t want to stop writing, but for four years nothing that she wrote worked or made sense. During that time, though, God did a wonderful work in her marriage and she grew to know Him through studying his Word.

While her Bible study group was delving into the book of Hosea, she realized that she wanted to write about the kind of love that could make a prostitute want to change her ways—God’s kind of redeeming love. That became the title of her first novel written as a follower of Jesus, and Redeeming Love was that first novel of hers that I “happened upon” at the library (published by Bantam, re-published later by Multnomah).

Ever since I read about that four year gap in her writing, I’ve been fascinated by the idea that God could—and would decide to—temporarily remove a writer’s skill and success for his own purposes. I so admire how she submitted herself to whatever He was doing during that time. She may have wondered if she would ever write again. How would that feel? But the Lord wanted her to write his words, and when she eventually started writing again, he gave her great success as he used her books for eternal purposes.

My prayer is that we all will experience the Lord’s redeeming power, see His words in our manuscripts and recognize his fingerprints on our lives.

Posted by Ramona
www.happilywriting.com


4 comments:

Susan Barclay said...

I think I've still only read the one Francine Rivers' novel, 'And the Shofar Blew', but it was totally awesome. Your post inspires me to read more of her work, starting with 'Redeeming Love'.

Tracy Krauss said...

Francine Rivers is definitely an inspiration

Marcia Janson said...

I remember stumbling upon Francine Rivers years ago. Someone gave me the first book in her "Mark of the Lion" series and I was hooked! I've read those three plus "Redeeming Love" which was, indeed, a beautiful novel.

Ruth L. Snyder said...

Thanks for sharing this story and challenging us to submit our writing to God. I appreciated the "behind the scenes glimpse" into Francine Rivers' writing.