Some readers approach my books as if the tales are a strange beast from a foreign jungle. “That’s a weird one,” they say as they lean in, curious but cautious. “Is it poisonous? Looks questionable to me!”
They’ve heard about my stories’ supernatural elements, along with rumors that I, a Christian writer, might not actually write acceptably “Christian” fiction.
It has been said that I walk too close to the rim of the New Age volcano. That some of my characters’ spiritual gifts are biblically taboo. That I believe in animal spirit guides. I’ve addressed these specific criticisms elsewhere. Here I simply mean to say two things:
- If you’ve ever found cause for offense in my stories, I am sorry. If you want to tell me about it, I’ll listen.
- I’m a God-honoring Christian who tries to write God-honoring books. I write metaphorical stories, weird though they may be, about what it means to choose light over darkness and life over death in our spiritually complex physical world.
My next book, Afloat, comes out next month and just might be my most overt, most direct point-to-Jesus-as-our-life-source story to date. (This approach is very different from the one I take in Stanger Things, which publishes in 2014. But I’ll tell you more about that later.)
In Afloat, one of my characters has lost his sight in an accident but gained sharper spiritual eyes. His life takes a new direction:
Zeke had received what he liked to call “second sight.” By this he meant that he could now see people and their troubles in a way that his busier, sighted life had prevented. This gift had opened up a new and surprisingly fulfilling career as a life coach.
This was the simple explanation he gave to most people. To his closest circle of friends he gave a deeper explanation: on occasion he received visions from God. He didn’t know if the visions came to him the same way that they had come to the old prophet Isaiah, or to the apostle John, or to the mystic fathers of Christianity. He knew only that they came from God, because they always pointed the way to love and life rather than to hatred and death.
Zeke doesn’t tell everyone about his gift because it’s just too crazy. It would be misunderstood and probably questioned. But Zeke and God are on good terms. Zeke knows what God’s about: life.
Choose life, God says (Deut 30:19). God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus raised the dead (John 11). He healed the sick and fed the hungry. And then he died so we could LIVE. Yeah, it’s weird until you believe it (1 Cor. 1:18). Counterintuitive, backward, something we never would have thought of on our own. Like diving into a volcano.
Jesus gives life to those who will reach out and take it. His gift is a strange creature, full of mystery and beauty. I have a million questions about it that probably won’t get answered this side of heaven. So in the meantime, I’m learning what I can and processing this stuff in my storytelling. My stories won’t always get it right, but I hope they will always celebrate the life God holds out to us. This is my standard.
How do you evaluate whether a thing (a story, an idea, an event, a choice) honors God?