i’m reading notes from the tilt-a-whirl by n.d. wilson right now, and the following passage from the chapter “breathing characters” reminded me of what my friend said. wilson explains it better than i could. the except is kind of long, so all rights to it belong to n.d. wilson and thomas nelson publishing, etc., etc.
looking out through the lens of true ex nihilo creation — at a spoken world — everything becomes an artistic touch. every crack in the plaster, every bathroom-dwelling spider, looks out at me like a stage prop, an author’s added texture, a fellow character living at this time, inhabiting the same paragraph that i do.
there are Christians in the world who bemoan the absence of God’s speech, who cry out for personal communication with God Himself. they want cues for their lines. they want explanations and specific directions from the Artist.
and God, as far as they can tell, is ignoring them. they feel neglected — because they weren’t cast as moses or elijah or enoch or gideon.
tell me what you want me to do, God. speak to me (in english, please) and tell me if i should take this job in des moines or stay closer to my mother.
then, because their part in this story does not include cosmic voice-overs in english, they enter into an existential crisis. they begin to “doubt.”
what kind of story do you think this is? i have no problem with the pettiness of your des moines dilemma. the world spins on through space, bowled by its Maker. the sun burns on, hot with His words, and yet He still crafts every snowflake without digital shortcuts. He knows that you want to move to des moines and yet you feel guilty. He wrote the story. He crafted your character. He gave you life and a plot of your own. even simple character stories, the kind with no special effects, put together by one lonely producer and starring unbeautiful people, even those are not beneath Him. infinite reaches all the way up into the transcendent epics of the stars, and all the way down into the ant hill where one loyal worker spends his life toiling, from its first day after the larval stage to ins noble end, killed by a ladybug while defending the colony’s vulnerable herd of aphids.
the ant’s story may be more dramatic than yours, but it’s not bigger. and don’t worry, some day you’ll play for keeps too. some day, even in slow, suburban stories,there will come a death scene.
but why would any Christian claim that God has stopped talking? did He speak the world into existence? does matter exist apart from Him? is it still here? are you still here? then He is still speaking.
step outside your front door and look at today’s stage. speak. God will reply. He will speak to you. He gave you sense. use them. He will parade His art. He will give you a scene, a setting for the day. He will give you conflict to overcome, opportunities for your character to grow or fail.
but do not expect Him to speak in english. and do not expect Him to stay on whatever topic you might choose. His attention is everywhere and no story should be easy, as every reader knows.
you are on your porch. look at the blue sky.
God, am i going to get this sale today? the commission would pay for a boat.
look at this squirrel, He says. do you understand it? do you know what it means? what does it tell you about me? watch its tail snap. you’re the only one watching. you and I are alone in the audience, sharing this scene. what does it remind you of?
i need this sale.
there’s an ant on your shoe. it’s a good ant. last spring it turned the tide in the great sidewalk crack war of d street. one of its grandfathers traveled half a mile with lewis and clark. did you know that today it dies? that you are its death?
i wish i had a new car. hyundais are lame.
in the time of noah, there was a small creature, tinier than could be seen. after a long journey and many struggles, today its descendant will be at your office. even now, it is barely clinging to life on a microwave button, desperate to reproduce before the end. the drama is incredible, actually. the narritive is intricate. you wouldn’t believe all the twists and reverals it took to get it there.
why do i have to work with roger on this one? roger’s two tons of no fun.
the creature will live. tomorrow you will have pink eye.
i never could believe in a God that makes eyes itch. and the tear duct good is an added insult.
the apostle paul: God make your eyes. can He not make them pink?
— — —
you know, things don’t always play out according to the scripts we write for ourselves. we probably wouldn’t write our eyesight to start failing so we have to depend on these things called glasses — which get immediately smudged whenever we encounter a curious baby — in order to see. we wouldn’t write broken hearts or broken minds just for the fun of it. we wouldn’t write brain surgery or a family history of graying 20-somethings. we might write those things in “fiction,” but this is “reality,” and we wouldn’t write those things for the stories we live out day by day. so when He does, we ask Him why — why, God?
there’s nothing wrong with asking. but what if creation is singing His love song in answer all around you and you simply weren’t paying attention?