A few years ago, I was at a crossroads. I enjoyed writing, but what should I do with it? Should I continue writing novels and short stories and pass them around my family, or should I try to reach more people? I always wanted to publish a book and be an author, but I’m not a young man and I’m set in my career now. I have people relying on me at home and work, and I cannot let them down and give it all up. Besides, my full-time job gives back to the world, and that’s important to me.
But a question plagued me. Was this a hobby…or was it meant to be something else?
It is generally agreed that this is not a parable about greed, but about not using your God-given abilities. I get the sense that even if the third man had invested it and lost it all, the master wouldn’t have been so displeased.
This question especially haunted me whenever I read or heard the Bible passage about the talents. If you are unfamiliar, the story is about a master who entrusts three servants with his money. (All images courtesy of Arabs for Christ/FreeBibleimages.org).
The first two take a risk and make more money, but the third buries his meager coin and restores the exact same amount back to the master.
The master is furious with the third man and takes the money away from him, and berates him for not attempting to make more money. He gives the man’s money to the most industrious servant.
Whenever I encountered this Bible passage, I felt uncomfortable. Did God give me a talent and I was meant to do something with it? Or am I worthless hack and it would be best to let sleeping dogs lie? Praying over it, there was no clear answer. But I figured if I tried to write and failed, God wouldn’t be displeased. Maybe amused but not angry.
So I thought about it a long time and I came to a conclusion. If God wants me on this path, then I entrust God to lead me. In return, I promise not to use my stories to direct my readers away from God. This doesn’t mean all my stories end happily, or that everything at the end of a story is wrapped up in a bow. It means I want my readers to walk away with a deep sense of purpose. Personally, I don’t believe in a random, meaningless universe. I’ve experienced too many coincidences to subscribe to a philosophy of accidental origins. When people view the world with their soul, they see hand of God in all acts of purity and benevolence.
There is purpose even in the darkest of tales. Orwell’s 1984 shows us what could happen in a world without mercy. I realized many of my horror stories that left my protagonist in a hopeless situation were now off-limits. I’m grown increasingly tired of these stories anyway. Conflict is my favorite part of the books I’ve read. Conflict requires some balance. When done well, the tale is both exciting and believable. This is not to say characters won’t die or suffer, or bad things won’t happen to good people. Quite the contrary. My favorite characters always suffer in some way. While they live, they never reach complete self-fulfillment. They struggle with the questions that matter to all of us. Who are we? What are we doing here? Why was all of this created and what is our role in it?
I write fairly light entertainment, but never without this perspective. My stories are reflections on the human condition, on the natural and preternatural, on purpose and destiny. For all of us are living stories, wrapped up in a book cover, with a wealth of words inside.