Have you ever done something that takes a lot of time, hard work, and mental brain power and when it’s done you feel a mixture of pride, relief, joy, and like you’ve accomplished something pretty amazing? Writing books is that way for me. Each book brings new challenges, new things to learn and research, and new opportunities for me to be stretched. I recently heard someone briefly compare the writing and editing process to the way God changes us and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the many ways that statement is true.
God has a plan for each one of us that He planned out before the world was created. In a sense, He created an outline of each of our lives creating the setting for our stories. Then He made sure this earth was the perfect setting for us to live out our lives. Only, He gave us free will. He created our stories, but gave us the choice to decide if we wanted to live out the story He created for us, or if we would choose to create our own story. Many authors will tell you, that as you write a book, the characters take on a life of their own and sometimes they do things the author doesn’t predict.
I realize that probably sounds silly since the characters are made up, but not all authors outline their novels before starting to write. Those that do, typically only have a basic outline of events and scenes they know they want to have in their book. But as we write, the details are fleshed out, and as those details are fleshed out, sometimes the outline gets derailed because the further into the book you get, the better you get to know your characters and sometimes those characters develop in ways we didn’t originally plan on because of the different ways circumstances can play out.
God’s original plan for us was to live in a perfect world, without sin, living in relationship with Him and with each other, and taking care of the earth. But then Eve was deceived, and Adam didn’t stop her, and sin entered the world. God’s original story line was derailed. Unlike us though, God had all the other possible story lines worked out beforehand. He didn’t have to stop and figure out how to get His characters out of the mess they’d created. He didn’t have to pace the throne room for hours on end, binge eat, or obsessively clean His house while figuring out how to solve problems we make. He’d planned for every possibility in His outline and He continues to pursue us so He can get us back on the path of His story for our lives.
Sure, we can continue to live our own stories, but we don’t really know what we’re doing or where we’re going. We’re writing our own stories blindly, hoping for the best. But God knows how our stories end. Every possibility. Every fork in the road we come to and have to make a decision about, He knows the end result of every single one of those plot lines. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly that we’ll run into, and He never gives up trying to get us on the best path, the one with the happy ending He wants us to have.
It’s not just about writing the story though. Once the story is written, there is still work to be done. The first draft is always the rough draft. It’s full of typos, consistency and timing errors, plot holes, and character holes. Any writer will tell you that when you’re first starting out, it can be hard to stop editing. A book could be edited forever, there is always going to be some aspect of a book the writer won’t be one hundred percent pleased with. An author can go back and look at a book they wrote ten years ago and through their gained experience, will see how they could have improved the book. Of course God’s first draft was perfect, it’s when we took the pen away from Him and decided to write our own stories that we started having rough drafts to work through.
Once we agree to let God write our story instead of us writing our story, it becomes a life of being edited, of learning and growing. Because of sin, we like having control of our own stories, but if we’re really serious about letting God write our story, then whenever we wrestle control back from Him, we begin to see that for us to really live out the story God has for our lives, we need some editing to be done.
One of the most painful times for a writer is when we have to cut a scene we love from our book. Sometimes a favorite scene needs to be cut because it doesn’t make sense to the plot anymore. Sometimes it’s just a great piece of writing we’re proud of, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t work in the story. We have things in our life we enjoy doing, but it may not fit into the story God has for our lives. It could be a habit, or a lifestyle choice, or a behavior pattern, or any number of things. As we go through life, God will show us that if we really want to follow His story line for our lives, we have to let those things go. It’s part of the editing process, it’s painful, but it’s necessary. And when we succeed in giving those things up in order to pursue God, we discover a little more joy, a little more peace. Our story is better because those scenes were cut.
With a book, a writer has to come to a place where they decide the book is done, it’s polished and ready to publish. When it comes to God’s story for our lives, the journey of being written and being edited doesn’t end until we leave this earth, or Jesus returns and restores this earth from all the sin and makes it a perfect place again. A writer can write multiple books, but we only have one life. We can continue wandering through life writing our own stories the best we can, or we can give our lives to God and let Him guide us down the path to our Happily Ever After.