By: Dennis Bates
This Sunday I have been invited to attend a local church that I have never gone to before. In fact, it is about 45 miles from here, and I don’t know that I even know exactly where it is. A former Pastor of the small church that I attend has used one of my books in an adult Sunday School class there and asked me to come discuss the book with the class.
This is exactly the kind of experience I hoped for when I started to write. To say the least, I am both nervous and excited about the prospect. One of the things I really enjoy is hearing how my stories are being interpreted by my readers. The fact that this semi retired Pastor has chosen to use one of my short novels to teach Christian principles tells me I must be doing something right.
Sure, I would like to think that my story is so well written and moving that the New York Times should have included it on its best seller list two days after it was released. Similarly, local colleges should be analyzing it for its unique style and hailing one of its local writers (me, of course) as the Faulkner of the Midwest, or at the very least as the new Nicholas Sparks.
Why not? It could happen.
But that’s not what I’ve done right, if,I have done something right at all. What I did right was listen to the Holy Spirit and then do what I was told to do…write what I was told to write. The Holy Spirit dictated and I typed. It’s as simple as that.
I don’t mean that to sound arrogant or the tiniest bit self righteous. I have no unique insight into the Holy Spirit or God. I have the same one everyone has, but I try to listen extra hard to hear the Spirit’s voice. I have to; at my age, I don’t hear through my ears like I used to, so I have to hear through my heart and soul more and more. I try.
My former Pastor gave me a short list of questions that he wants to discuss about my book when we talk Sunday. At first I thought I couldn’t address them honestly because the themes that he sees in the book are simply nothing I consciously set out to write about, at least not in the detail that he described them.
But then I realized that I didn’t see them because they were themes that the Holy Spirit developed in my story, and whether I was aware of them or not, they were there. Plain, clear and screaming for attention.
Now I’m really excited. Not only do I have an opportunity to address the questions and share my passion for writing, but I also get to witness.
My real witness is how I try to write, not what I try to say. As my good friend Staci has told me many times, “The Holy Spirit already has the story written; all you have to do is pray, listen for the response and copy it down.”
That works every time, although sometimes it is easier than it is other times. You wouldn’t think that a young Catholic girl could teach such an old Protestant dog new tricks like that, but believe me, she has. Of course, there’s always the chance that the Holy Spirit has something to do with that too.
Do you think?