David Meigs is a novelist with a background in youth outreach, specializing in ministry to at-risk youth and their families. Though his writing is enjoyed by all ages, his novels provide a unique, life-changing quality, critical for the youth of today. David and his family lives in Seabeck, Washington, where he serves his church as youth pastor.
Regardless of our highly honed skills, we can do nothing of eternal value apart from Jesus...
Last year, my son, David Jr. left for his fourth tour of Iraq (Army). On his previous deployments, he had more than a few close calls and lost some very special friends who were not so fortunate. We knew very well that even though we prayed hard and often for his safety, God might call him home on those desert sands so far away.
Before he left, we set a time to discuss the important details that needed attending to: financial issues, powers of attorney, and, yes, even the provisions of his will. I weighed carefully everything we would discuss. We had no time for wasted words or for leaving unsaid those things every son craves to hear from his father. I treated our meeting as if it were the last time I’d see him this side of Heaven.
I believe the same sense of urgency filled the air at the Last Supper as Jesus spoke to His disciples for the final time. He knew He would soon be torn from their company, to suffer and die upon the cross for all of us. He had only one or two short hours to cement in their minds the most vital truths of the kingdom of God. Whenever I read the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, I marvel at the importance of those final words:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (vv 1–4, NIV)
In those precious, final moments, Jesus stressed that every believer is required to bear fruit. Moreover, He taught that the secret of tapping into God’s life-giving power was dependant on remaining in relationship with Him. In other words, only Jesus gives life. Regardless of our highly honed skills, we can do nothing of eternal value apart from Jesus.
Is there such a thing as life-giving fiction? If we follow Jesus’ imperative to remain in Him, then the answer is yes. I’m not saying that we can afford to neglect crafting highly entertaining,
well-written novels—without that, no one will read our work. I simply advocate that we follow the Lord’s command to put relationship with Him as a priority.
This mandate applies even if you don’t write as a ministry, and even more so for those of us who deeply desire to see lives changed through the stories we write. How can we be a conduit of “relationship with the Creator” if our own walk with the Lord is lacking? We can’t. How did Jesus put it? “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4,NIV).
Our problem is that we can become so busy we do not take the time to nurture our walk with God. Between caring for our families, making a living, and fulfilling church responsibilities, most of us have too little time to write, let alone find time for prayer and reading the Bible. Our daily schedules have become a battle between caring for urgent needs and what is truly important—our relationship with our Creator.
Many years ago, I had an eye-opening discussion with an old friend who is the director of a large international ministry. He was experiencing a deep, spiritual renewal in his life. “I woke up one day feeling dry and empty on the inside. I suddenly realized that I had become too busy doing the work of God to have time for God,” he said. Even as he said it, I recognized the same dry-emptiness inside my own life and his confession ignited the fire in me for the things of God.
In my early days in Youth With A Mission, we called these daily devotionals our “quiet times.” It doesn’t matter what you call it, just as long as you take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and devote it to God. I personally would be lost without the audio Bible on my MP3 player. It’s transformed my dreary, daily drive time into a much anticipated feast of manna from Heaven.
Only Jesus gives life. We can entertain the masses through our stories, but only Jesus can give life to our readers. If we don’t have that life flowing through us, we can’t expect God to make our work fruitful. Besides, bearing fruit is much more fun than a heavy pruning.
By the way, I am happy to report that Sergeant David Jr. has returned home safe and sound. The experience of watching our son go off to war kept us on our knees, bringing us closer to Jesus. Praise God!