God has honored me with this incredible gift to share His story. And in the past several months, He's been working on my heart and humbling me with the way that He is telling my story.
Somewhere in the middle is a very fine line that fully hinges on what I can only call "The God Character."
As a writer and someone burdened with sharing the unbelievable grace of God (among His many other fine qualities), God is a primary character in nearly everything I write. I gauge my success, even my contentment with what I do, in part on how well I am able to bring the very heart of God into the pages and then off those same pages and into the heart of the reader. If you're not seeing God in my writing, then I am doing something wrong. And that bothers me.
This requires, however, that I play the God character very well. It's crucial that to the best of my ability, when I'm playing the God character, I use the words that God would use. I say the things that God would say. I answer the way God would answer. I love the way God would love.
You're thinking, ok. This doesn't sound so hard. You simply become God in order to cast His character into your stories.
Not at all. By which I mean, not at all.
When you try to think like God would think, you start to think more highly of yourself than you ought to. When you put yourselves in God's shoes to try to answer a question or a problem or a heart, you form that answer in the shape of your own words. When you pretend to be the very God character you're trying to write about, you kind of suck God into your writing until whatever you pen is this conglomeration of you and God because when you suck Him in, you get this idea that your perspective, experience, storyframe, or whatever else you're working with will obviously only enhance whatever God's word would be in this situation. You kind of turn the God character into a jumbled, impure mess of a deity that leaves people still wondering what God is all about. These are lessons learned the hard way. Trust me on that.
The key to the God character is to know the character of God.
It's not likely that I'm going to stumble onto the very words God would use to answer anybody. Maybe on some off chance, for maybe one reader somewhere someday, I do, and that would be cool. But it's by knowing His character - the nature of mercy, the mercy of grace, the gift of forgiveness, the love of creation, the creation of love - that I am able, hopefully, to find worthy words.
It is by knowing and seeing and understanding and living and loving the way He is working in my life and in the lives of those around me, the stories He's authoring and playing out before my very eyes (and in my very eyes), that I am able to understand, in whatever limited understanding I may ever have this side of Heaven, what is the character of God.
Then I take all that and this gift He's given me and the grace I feel as He's playing out my own story, and I do my best to find words for the God character that are truly in the character of God, then pray I get it right.
The problem is that as I continue to grow in my gift and am gifted by His grace and as I continue to do what this thing is that I do, I'm getting fairly good - or at least, fairly confident - in speaking for God. This is that fine line I was talking about, and it is an important line for two equally significant reasons.
First, because as I mentioned before, I don't want the words of God coming out of my mouth. That is, I don't want to taint His message by getting in the way. It's a temptation I face with every word I write - to make sure you're hearing God and not Aidan. To make sure that you, the reader, and I, when I read my own words, don't think I'm talking to you. That you don't think I'm saying these things. So that you don't get a high impression of me; you get a glimpse of something higher. Even the words I hijack are His, and that's a line not to cross.
The second reason that's a significant line to draw is this: I need to hear from God. There are words right now that I need to hear Him speak into my life. And it's tough when it's easy to get comfortable speaking for God, because when my heart is thirsty and I'm crying out, I know (or at least, I think I know) what He's going to say and my inner dialogue has a "God" voice (like you have a mom voice or a husband voice or a kid voice when you're speaking as they would speak) and I can sort of almost hear what God would say to me, but it's me speaking for Him.
There's a vital difference between knowing what God would say and hearing Him actually say it. That's why I take such great care with the God character. I want you not just to know what God would say, but to actually hear Him say it. He's talking to you, even if it seems He's got my name on it.
He's talking to me, too. And I really, really need to hear Him speak.