On Writing, Art, and Salvation (part 1)

I posted last week that I was in the process of . . . well, processing. I’ve had several days to write, delete, rewrite, edit, and finalize the mess in my head. I think it’s all sort of untangled, but I guess the reason I’m posting it all here is to get input from other people about it all. This is long, so I’ve split it into four parts.

I have blogged before about the painful year I’ve had that has involved disappearing from the world of writing, putting all of my artistic endeavors aside, and falling down in repentance at the foot of the Cross. The work that God has been doing in my heart over the last year has been piecemeal, in a way. It’s almost as if He has been rebuilding me from the ground up. No, not “almost”–I think He has, in fact, been rebuilding me from the pile of rubble that was representative of my self a year ago.

But now, I sense that with the foundation laid, He is doing something else. The pieces are intersecting, coming together, forming a peak. And here I find myself acknowledging some things that are hard and some things that are expected and some things that are just plain weird.

First, I acknowledge the conviction of sin that I was mired in a year ago . . . but it’s not the sin I thought I would be convicted of. Ultimately, I think, all of the sins I have to acknowledge–and that I have repented of–boil down to two categories: pride and idolatry. I depended on my own wisdom and knowledge. I knew what was right and refused to consider God’s perspective (while probably considering human perspectives too much!). I put my writing endeavors above everything else, including God. For those things, I have asked forgiveness, and I am dealing with those tendencies in my life. I don’t think I will ever be free of pride; I just have to learn, with God’s help, to put it to death daily. And idolatry–I’m such an addictive personality! Having obsessions quickly turns to idolatry to me. In a way, it has been a relief to me to see that I can just as easily become addicted to knitting, sewing, or leading an American Heritage Girls group as I can to writing. It wasn’t the writing–it was me. (It’s never the thing, is it? It’s always us.) I’m the one who is so easily ensnared by the new and shiny thing to the exclusion of all other things.

But as I evaluate the convictions I’ve experienced, here’s the interesting thing: I really don’t feel profoundly convicted of wrongdoing in the content of my writing. That is, actually, a really hard thing to admit. It’s a rather confusing thing as well. My writing was never as concerned with clean, appropriate, Christian-entertainment-industry-approved content as it was with wrapping spiritual truths in an accurate representation of humanity, ugly though that representation may be.

And here’s where everything gets tricky, and even where salvation comes in.

I have never rested comfortably in the knowledge that I am saved. I struggle with this almost daily. I have days when I am absolutely certain that I am not one of the elect, that I have not been called, that I have no place in God’s Kingdom. Oh, I believe all of the basic tenets of classical Christianity, and I can engage in apologetics with atheists and agnostics for hours, always in defense of classical Christianity. But when it comes to me, to my own salvation, I do doubt. I don’t feel saved.

This is not news to Jesus, I assure you. He’s heard my many ramblings on this.

And here’s what it comes down to over the last year: If the content of my writing was so horrible, so un-Christian, then why did the Spirit not convict me of wrongdoing? Or am I just so stubborn and hard-headed that I completely missed it?

The Spirit has convicted me of plenty in the last year, believe me, and it’s possible that He’s not done. I’m sure He’s not done, in fact. But in these many months of crying out to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, in all these many weeks and hours of asking for conviction, confessing sin, and acknowledging that I was in a place where I was ready, willing, and able to hear it all, where was the conviction that the content of my work was inappropriate?

I come to three possibilities:

  1. The content of my work was inappropriate, but the Spirit just hasn’t gotten around to convicting me yet. This possibility seems unlikely. The Spirit has not been shy.
  2. The content of my work was inappropriate, but I am unconvicted because I’m actually not saved. This possibility tempts me. I’ll explain why in a minute.
  3. The content of my work was just fine, and I am unconvicted because there’s nothing to be convicted of. This possibility scares me. No, this possibility terrifies me.

So the question is . . . which is it? Or is it some fourth possibility that I haven’t considered?

I’ll explore each of these possibilities in my next post.

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3 thoughts on “On Writing, Art, and Salvation (part 1)

  1. Laurel C Kriegler

    Very interesting post.

    I am similar to you, in that I rarely feel saved. ESPECIALLY when I think too hard about it. I frequently feel like I’m “saying the right things”.

    I would say that your argument regarding conviction of the content of your previous writing (the Spirit has had ample opportunity to convict you, but hasn’t) would certainly point to option three. That would be the logical conclusion, given that you have been convicted about other things over the last year. I am very interested to hear why this option terrifies you so much. I have a few ideas myself, but I’ll keep mum for now 🙂

    1. jmpadoc Post author

      I suppose that this is why the Bible says that “the heart is deceitful,” eh? I remember when I first started learning apologetics how grateful I was to have more firm knowledge to rest on than just my feelings. My feelings lied to me all the time, and when that’s all you have to rely on, you sort of feel like you’re in quicksand if you have a day of anxiety.

      You probably do have an inkling about the terrifying bits. I’ll be interested to see if you’re right. 🙂

  2. Pingback: On Writing, Art, and Salvation (part 2) | Notes from the Threshing Floor

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