Last night, I had a conversation with some friends about Harry Potter. Because what else would I talk about anyway? As my friends can attest, Harry is a particular favorite of mine. A new member of the group did not share my love of the dear bespectacled wizard. She asked me, with true curiosity, how I could read and enjoy a story that so clearly deifies sorcery and witchcraft.
My first thought was admittedly defensive. Ah, here once again is the age-old argument that goes back long before Harry Potter even slipped into existence from Rowling's pen. How dark is too dark? How fictional is too fictional? How real is too real?
I've heard this argument a lot, mostly from people who have not read the books, and I'll say here and now that I don't believe there's any basis for the argument. But I'm not writing this post to debate the light and dark of Harry Potter.
When this dear woman, who comes from a completely different background than I do, and who sees many things in a very different light than I do, asked me this question, suddenly, the proverbial lightbulb popped on over my head.
God is big, guys.
That sounds cliché, but just think about it. God is so big, that He can take this one flawed story (did I just admit that the Potter books might have a flaw or two?) written by a flawed human being who does not have a relationship with the Creator God, and He can use the story to touch a whole lot of people who would never even consider picking up a Bible or going to a church service, or even reading Christian fiction for that matter.
The themes of redemption, of self-sacrifice, of good overwhelming and eventually obliterating evil that ring true through the book, have reached out to people the world over, have sparked discussions that has led many a person to examine or reexamine their own relationship with God. And Rowling never even intended it.
And you know what else? God is big enough that He took the potentially divisive question in the discussion last night and turned it into a rock-solid dialogue about our faith walks. This woman and I came away from that conversation not only excited about what God is doing in both of our lives, but with a deep respect for the path each of us has journeyed with Him.
I wish . . .
I wish . . .
I wish it could always be like that.
I wish I could write what God gives me to write without feeling the pricking barbs of other Christians who read my work and wonder how I could possibly include such material in my books. That I could know that I'm pouring my soul into the characters that live and breathe on my pages without feeling the disapproval that trickles, however unintentionally, from well-meaning friends and family.
I know that I write in a world of billions of opinions, and that there will always be a refracted view of anything I write, a fly's vision with a hundred different perspectives of the same thing. I know that I will always have disapproval in some form, keeping company with the shining light of support for my work as well.
I wish it could be like the woman last night, though, who overcame her disapproval of my choices as I overcame my defensive attitude, and we discovered that God had a use for each of us, His vessels used to pour His Spirit in two very different manners.
So . . . my characters use foul language now and then? They slide down the slippery slope of sexual depravity? They live a life of manipulation and greed and back-biting and . . . and sin?
So . . . they're sinners in need of grace?
Guys, listen. I've enjoyed my share of Janette Oke, and Lori Wick, and whoever the next-new-author is on the Christian market. They have an audience who enjoys the lighter side of life, and I can't fault them for it. They have a ministry, and they're faithful in it. I admire them for that.
But God doesn't call us all to the same ministry. Sometimes, we have to carve out our own niche in the rock, and it's uncomfortable, because it's a new space, unused by anyone else, and perhaps that new space is a little scary and dark, because it hasn't been tried yet.
Perhaps, instead of fearing the unknown territory, we can instead focus on how God leads his followers to new places, to introduce them to new ministries, to reach new people who haven't been touched by His word yet.
Perhaps new wine needs to be poured into new wineskins after all.
Who said that?
Oh yeah, some guy who just wouldn't go with the flow, who wouldn't allow himself to be pushed into some used niche carved by the expectations of everyone around Him.
In my writing career, I've had a lot of lines drawn in the sand before me. Write this, don't even touch that subject. That's too graphic, tone it back, would you? For the love of Pete, he said WHAT?
All those lines create a web in front of me, each strand restraining me from what I feel called to write. I could play hopscotch in them all.
Look, I'm not saying let's do away with accountability. Woo-hoo, free-for-all! I'm just saying that . . .
God is bigger than my mistakes, than any story that will ever pound its way out on the keys of my laptop. So these characters who peer out from the white pages and move around in their flawed, human condition, who demonstrate by their fictional existence that light can still pierce the darkness and find them . . .
I think I'm going to let God use them.
Even when they sin.
Because God still uses me. Even when I sin.
That's so freeing, you know?