And what are parables? Simply defined, they are earthly stories with heavenly/spiritual meanings.
Jesus used them most of the time to teach His disciples and the crowd of people that constantly gathered around Him. And it achieved two things:
- To those who cared to listen and had the heart to obey, it presented the Word of God in a simple and more comprehensive way, so that what was a difficult teaching at the time, became easier to grasp.
- To those who were rebellious at heart, parables portably kept the meanings of Jesus’ teaching hidden from them so that it became their stumbling block, further confusing, angering and frustrating them.
No matter the case, parables always did one thing: speak the truth. By using parables, Jesus put in them the power of the Word so that upon hearing, the heart of a man/woman could be convicted and their spirits healed if they chose the truth. Parables were a mighty vessel that Jesus used to pour out salvation, deliverance and healing. He often used them to build the faith of His disciples and followers.
This is something that still happens today.
In the past, I never disputed that Christian Fiction was a good thing. But I often wondered about its place in the life a Christian, whether as a reader or a writer. Where we just killing valuable time that we could use for something more productive in the spiritual sense, or worse yet, wasting time away?
Imagine my surprise when somewhere along my walk with God, He lovingly showed me the connection between the Christian fiction of today and the parables that Jesus taught back then. In fact, they are one and the same, having the same goal—to carry the message of Christ! Christian Fictions are stories centered on God with the purpose of preaching His Truth.
This was such a relief and blessing to me because I knew God had gifted me with the talent of writing. I had already sensed in me that it was my purpose. But not understanding its place left me confused in some ways.
Prior to this time, not long after I had given my life to Christ at the age of sixteen, I had considered going secular. In my bid to unconfuse (if that’s a word) myself, I put it to myself this way: I know I’m supposed to serve God somehow with my time here on earth. But while I’m still searching how that would be, secular writing would simply be my job. I believed so much that writing wasn’t any way to serve God and that I could separate it from my spiritual life.
You see, at the time, I hadn’t come across Christian Fiction so much. Just the very few ‘HeartSongs’ that were passed around among friends. And it piqued my interest just enough to be a reader. Sometimes. I already had drafts of secular writing in the fantasy genre that I had created before I’d officially turned my life over to God, and I was getting ready to use them to establish myself as a writer.
But as I drew closer to God, He took a hold of me. It wasn’t long before I sensed in my spirit that God didn’t support my decision to become a secular writer. It wasn’t His plan for me. And He made it clear by confirming it over and over again in different ways. I thought I would die. It NEVER occurred to me once the possibility of becoming a Christian writer. Such a notion didn’t even exist in my sphere of comprehension. So naturally, I perceived that God was simply trying to take from me the one thing that gave me utmost fulfillment. And God didn’t make it easier for me either. You would think He would have said, “Oh no! I didn’t ask you not to write. I’m simply saying switch from secular to Christian.” He simply said, “Stop.” Looking back now, I can understand why. In my struggle to let go of my writing and the dreams I had created in my heart around it, it became clear to me that my art had become an idol that contended with God. If I would learn obedience and gain true purpose and fulfillment in my walk with God and in my work for him in this life, God had to become number one. I can’t remember ever struggling so hard to let something go like I did then. It made me even more upset with God. Why couldn’t He just find another way to teach me to love Him better? Why strip me of my precious talent that held all my dreams? But dear friends, aren’t dreams supposed to be held in the hands of our loving Father, God?—this I had to learn soon.
Making me choose was making me take a stand. I knew I loved God, and this is what followed: for two years I continued my life as a Christian but avoided the topic with God. I had given my life to Him but I hadn’t submitted that part of me. And of course, being so consciously aware of God, I didn’t dare write another secular fiction either. I was in a fix. I didn’t submit to God but I didn’t move forward with secular fiction either. I sensed that my position seriously stunted my spiritual growth and marred my walk with God. This hurt and frustrated me more than I wanted to admit. With each day that passed by, I knew I wanted to be closer to God. But that meant giving up something precious.
One day I couldn’t take it anymore. It was either God or my writing. It felt like Abraham’s story all over again—God or Isaac? Only this time it was happening to me. As painful as it was, I let my Isaac (writing) go. As strained and small as my faith was, I chose to believe that God would comfort and grant me fulfillment in another way. But isn’t that what Jesus said? Faith the size of a mustard seed could do wonders (paraphrased). And true to that, God took my broken heart and mended it. He took my hand and led me, and blessed me. In that short period, God led me along a path that changed my life forever.
Sometime afterwards while I was an intern at a government facility, I came across a lady that was into Christian Fiction. At about that time I also discovered a neighbor that devoured Christian fiction as well. Between these two ladies, I didn’t lack any Christian Fiction reads. It was about that time I came across books by Dee Henderson, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Lori Wick, Catherine Palmer, who soon became favorites of mine. Before I knew it, I was so much into Christian Fiction I wasn’t paying as much attention to secular fiction anymore. I remember one time putting aside Sydney Sheldon’s New York Time’s Bestseller, ‘The Sands of Time’ for Dee Henderson’s ‘The Negotiator’, without blinking. It had gotten to the point where it wasn’t just about how engaging the stories were anymore, but also what messages they carried. They represented God’s truth—leisure and entertainment interwoven with life-changing words. It was like I was rubbing minds with these books and they were rubbing minds with me. They taught me, grew me and broadened my perspective in so many ways that I never imagined. They were clearly set apart from secular reads that offered nothing more than a fantastically engaging plot at best, but no more. The secular romance reads were worse for me. Aside the fact that it felt like the same story was being told over and over again with different characters, they managed to do a good job of messing up my virgin mind. That did it for me. They had to go.
Then one clear sunny day, God told me, “Write again.” I was in so much shock, I pushed it aside as my mind playing tricks on me. Perhaps, it wanted to turn rebellious again and seek its own way. That frightened me. So I decided within me that I wouldn’t put up with any rebellious thoughts. I resisted. I loved God more. Period. But God who understood my fear, went on to confirm His Word in ways that were clearly unmistakable. Indeed, those who lay down their lives will take it up again, and those who lose it, will find it.
I found it. But this time, with a clear purpose in mind. I understood what it was meant for in my life. I understood that it is a calling, a ministry, not one to be taken lightly. I understood that I’m supposed to use it to encourage and teach the children of God and anyone else who cared to listen (or read). Just like parables, God would use it to heal the broken-hearted and restore hope to the disheartened. When I finally accepted this quest (if I would call it that!), a joy that I had never known before, filled my heart and my spirit. And it has never left me since.
Despite bumpy roads and difficult turns that could be faith-sapping, God has been faithful in leading me and preparing me. It’s clear that there is no turning back for me. And to add to the testimony of Christian Fiction, I have experienced firsthand its powerful effect, even in very recent times. God has used it to provide answers that I’ve prayed and waited for, and even to heal some of my brokenness. This happened even with the most recent books some authors/publishers offered to me to review. It’s so amazing how they came at just the right time!
Hear me now, children of God: for the times when you’re dealing with issues that you feel you can’t talk to anyone about except God, He can/may use fiction to teach you and heal you, just as Jesus did with parables, and is still doing today. In fact, records have it that Jesus taught more in parables than in straight language. For those of us whom God has called to use words as our tools, this is no different and shouldn’t come as a surprise. A servant after all, is never greater than his master. If Jesus is our Master, then we as good servants can only follow in His footsteps.
Readers, God bless you for choosing Christian Fiction and receiving the Truth that comes with it. And writers, as long as your work is in keeping with the standards of Scripture, God bless you even more for choosing to pour out of your hearts the truth that God has stored there. By your work, He is using you to reach the lost and the broken. And you are more blessed for this because it is better to give than to receive. Amen!