How Now Shall You Write?

Mary Keeley

Blogger: Mary Keeley

Today is Maundy Thursday. I’m going to begin by repeating a portion of what I posted last year to commemorate this when business-as-usual takes a back seat to a higher priority.

The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word mandatum, meaning commandment. It refers to Christ’s command, as he washed his disciples’ feet: to follow his example by reflecting his love and humility in serving others. maundy-thursday-wallpapers-2015-2The Maundy Thursday service at our church is my family’s favorite service of the year. Appropriately solemn and completely different from any other service of the year, it focuses on commemorating the Last Supper, Scripture reading, and communal worship of Christ. Nothing more. No distractions.

Our day jobs may require our minds and bodies to be at work tomorrow, Good Friday, but our hearts will be elsewhere. We in Christian publishing will be one together—authors, agents, editors, sales and marketing and PR staff, publishing executives—brothers and sisters kneeling at the foot of the cross, humble, repentant, hearts overflowing with thanksgiving for Christ’s unimaginable sacrifice on our behalf to purchase our eternity.

Today’s pondering of Good Friday’s sacrificial miracle on through Holy Saturday and into glorious Resurrection Sunday reignites our united purpose. We will not shrink back under the pressure of political correctness, but rather renew our resolve to obey the Great Commission. How can we not? We worship our Savior through the work he has given us to do. We use the giftedness, the knowledge, and the stories he inspires to encourage readers, possibly introducing some to him for the first time. A privilege and no greater joy.

How now shall you write? Here are some questions that press on my heart; maybe you’ve thought about them too:

How often do I stop to think of my work—both my work ethic and what I produce—as a form of worship to my Savior? “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1 ESV).

How often does the current cultural and political climate cause me to clutch before I post something regarding my faith on social media for fear of negative repercussions and loss of “friends” and followers? “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33 NASB).

In all interactions do I seek to reflect Christ’s character in my efforts to encourage others while also speaking the truth in love, which is the best kind of advocate and pleases God? This is a tough one, but I have to commend our blog community for the encouraging atmosphere you maintain here. “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT).

What has God put on your writer heart as you ponder the significance of today, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday? How does it influence your writing?

TWEETABLES:

How now shall you write? Work? Q&A for Christian writers & professionals in response to Holy Week. Click to Tweet.

Holy Week is a good time for Christian writers to re-establish your purpose is what you do. Click to Tweet.

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  1. Regarding what I post on social media, Mary, I think from the opposite direction. My writing ministry causes me to clutch before I post something relating to the political climate. I don’t want to convey the message that political persuasion is related to salvation. Christ died for folks on both sides of the aisle, as well as those who have no political opinion at all.

    • Mary Keeley says:

      Shirlee, I’m glad you brought this up. I don’t intend for this to be a political discussion, but rather as Christians, how shall we continue to write and do business faithfully to Christ in a climate that is increasingly anti-Christian.

  2. Kristen Joy Wilks says:

    I think it is a huge challenge to reflect God well. To not just toss a few prayers or verses into my writing but to grow as a writer until I can actually show a spiritual journey without preachiness or pushiness. To become a writer who is subtle and creates a story that shows the glory of God with a truth and simplicity that isn’t harsh or naive, but honest and real. How can I become a better writer, so that I can show Him better? That is the tough question.

  3. I think about these things often. I confess that I want to write about real life and, somehow, to have the truest things shimmer through the cracks in my stories, like they do in the book of Esther. I am inspired by writers like Flannery O’Conner, who didn’t shrink from the gritty and the real, but whose faith was the bedrock upon which she built her literary universes. The truth breaks through, if we let it.

    • Mary Keeley says:

      Hannah, the Book of Esther is an excellent writing example of “the truest things shimmer[ing] through the cracks” in our books. Although there is no direct mention or reference to God, the author of the book clearly communicated God’s sovereignty in directing events.

      Queen Esther is also an excellent example for Christian writers and publishing professionals through her actions in a hostile environment and in her influence. We learn that her servants have become believers in the true God when she tells Mordecai to have the Jews pray and says, “My maids and I will do the same.”

  4. I always love these posts, Mary. You’ve reminded me to stop and consider what we’re celebrating, or remembering this weekend. I want to remember, as you described, the unbelievable suffering Jesus endured . . . for us. Because He loves us. What kind of love is this? My kids do have school off tomorrow, so I’ll have to see how we can remember the events of Good Friday.

    As a writer, I do make mention of God and the work He’s doing in my life when I post on social media sites. But not all the time.

    With my blog, God definitely comes up in my writing. With my books, I’m still learning how to share my characters’ spiritual journeys effectively, not with an agenda.

    Allen Arnold spoke to our local ACFW group in January, and it was amazing. The thing he emphasized was that as we focus on growing in our relationship with God. It’s as we go deeper with Him that we can create stories that reflect Him well to the world around us. I’m not re-stating his thoughts very well. He shared that as we invite God into the creative process, as we collaborate with Him, our stories go deeper. Sorry! I can’t quite express what he shared.

    But his words really challenged me to be more open to communing with the Lord and being in tune with the Lord’s leading as I write. That’s what I’m working on.

    • Mary Keeley says:

      Jeanne, you expressed well some important points from Allen Arnold’s talk: growing a close relationship with Christ, inviting him into the writing process (for publishing professionals, the decision-making process), and communing and being in tune with the Lord’s leading. I suspect this has been having a significant influence on your writing.

  5. Beautiful thoughts today, Mary. Thank you for helping us center our thoughts on the most important thing this weekend. I was just talking with a writer friend yesterday who said that our writing reaches out to people we would never otherwise meet. What an incredible opportunity for ministry, no matter what our format or genre! Many, many blessings to you this Easter!

  6. Melinda Ickes says:

    Motivation for writing is typically what I ponder in light of my faith. I began writing in the 8th grade after I read a friend’s story and thought, “I can do better than this.” (Teenage arrogance at it’s finest, and a moment I am not particularly proud of.) By my mid to late 20s I was consumed and frantic with the thought that I must be a published author. Without going into detail, that drive stemmed from fear and assumed inadequacy in other areas. My life was only going to amount to something if I was published.

    Then that sweet Voice reminded me that every milestone in life, including publishing, was simply another stepping stone towards Him.

    So motivation. I started writing out of arrogance and continued writing out of desperation – with an overwhelming love of storytelling and joy mixed in, granted. Now when I sit down to write I check myself: am I doing this to prove something to myself and to others? Or am I writing because He sacrificed for me and I want to honor Him while I’m on my journey His way?

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post, Mary.

  7. Mary, I couldn’t hide my light under a bushel if I tried. I. Love. Jesus! I try not to be preachy about it in social media or on my blog (though yesterday’s post and tomorrow’s will lean a little more in that direction–hopefully, in a non-invasive way).

    I will never enter into a political discussion in a public arena. However–as a Christian, I will adhere to Biblical authority, and pray for God’s wisdom when specific topics are broached.

    Something I’ve always told our children–Christians are no better than the unbeliever. We may live by different standards and convictions (and we should), but at the end of the day, we’re all just beggars telling other beggars where we found bread–as our pastor put it.

    As a Christian writer, I pray that others find me approachable. I may fail or fumble or have off days, but I love people and I count it a joy to work in an industry that challenges and encourages me to be the best I can be. My stories will always include Christ as my cornerstone. Maybe not in a blatant, in-your-face kind of way, but through a subtle thread of supernatural, unconditional love and compassion.

    Praise God and pass the coffee! *clink*

    • Mary Keeley says:

      Joyfully, everyone in our blog community can attest that you couldn’t hide your light under a bushel not matter how hard you tried, Cynthia. Love and compassion are expressed in everything you write.

  8. Mary, thank you. This was beautiful. “Remember me.” Aren’t those beautiful words? “Do This In Remembrance Of Me” … that I could fully wrap my arms around that. So beautiful. And I love that you mentioned the blog community and the encouragement here. A few books that I’ve read lately have mentioned a few writers from this blog community, thanking them in the acknowledgements. I know for me, I don’t know where I’ll be on this writing journey ten years from now, but I’ll always remember the people here and the way the Lord has used them in my life. Each and every one. And Mary, thank you for weekly investing in our journey, as well. Have a blessed Easter. 🙂

  9. I love the fact that you’re a Christian-filled agency and it shows in the blogs you write.

    I write inspirational fiction, with a Christian influence woven among the pages and I find myself often remembering the passage you mentioned above while writing: Matthew 10:33. This alone gives me peace when creating a storyline, scene, or social media post.

    It seems today that so many in the writing community are fearful of speaking out against sin and promoting their Christian beliefs. However, I believe, you can do it in a way that doesn’t offend and stir up arguments, yet still promotes your message of love and faith. After all, Christ’s message was one of love and tolerance for sin.

    The biggest problem I see among social media, or wherever we write is political correctness, which goes in hand with religion. People are nervous about hitting a “like” button or agreeing because of fear of backlash. However, in my opinion, these situations allow the devil to win. And as Christians we should never be hesitant or afraid of standing up for what we believe.

    Thank you for having the courage to write such a terrific article!

    Happy Easter

  10. What has He put on my mind?

    That even in the secret mire of what I hide inside, and in the mud of what is very visible, Good Friday reminds me that I AM worthy of the King of Heaven.
    And Easter Sunday assures me that through the sacrifice of my King, that we won.
    We won, AND I’m a valuable part of the winning team.

    Sometimes, when I feel things closing in, and I start to punish myself for heinous crimes of which only I am aware, and I only I accuse…I stop, and envision Jesus whispering, through beaten, bloodied lips “That is not something I bring to you. That is something I’m willingly dying for, so that you can leave it here, at this cross.”

    If a human Messiah had bought me with money, power,or fame, then that could be eclipsed by more money, more power, and more fame.

    But because He bought me with love, then that is what He asks in return. I see no hardship in laying all that I have and all that I am at His feet, especially since He laid down all He was, for me.

  11. Katie Robles says:

    AMEN! 🙂

  12. Heidi Gaul says:

    Mary, thank you for this beautiful reminder of what should be the true purpose of my writing and my life. Maundy Thursday’s service is my favorite, as well, and what a treat to learn the word’s meaning. May God bless you this Holy Week and always.

  13. Ada Brownell says:

    Wonderful post. We all need to think more about how Salvation was brought to us and the great sacrifice of our Savior to bring forgiveness of sin and eternal life. It’s so amazing!

  14. Barb Roose says:

    Spectacular!

  15. I’ve not before read a piece that connects Easter and its days and traditions with our spiritual obligation to fulfill our purpose as God-called writers. This is a beautiful thought, and I thank you for it.

    It was a great blessing last week at Mt. Hermon Writers’ Conference to partake of communion. I will be writing on my blog about that experience, and trust it is okay to use the illustration you have posted here.

    Blessings to you and yours.

    • Mary Keeley says:

      Yes, that’s fine, Shirley. Did you run into my colleagues, Janet Grant, Wendy Lawton, and Rachel Kent at Mount Hermon? Blessings to you too.

      • While I was at Mount Hermon, I did meet Janet Grant, and Wendy Lawton. Enjoyed the opportunity to sit at a table with each of them for a meal. I did not see Rachel Kent. Perhaps another time.

  16. Thank you for writing this; I have heard the phrase ‘Maundy Thursday’ before, but never knew what it meant. What a beautiful thought.

  17. CJ Penn says:

    Mary, to your final questions, God definitely put something on my heart this morning, which I then posted in my blog. I try to let God influence all my writing. Most mornings, I have no idea if I’ll post anything. But then very often, God plants a passion in my heart, and He then guides my hands over the keyboard (or at least I hope He’s guiding me – I’m wary of writing alone, for I don’t trust myself). Anyway, if interested, here’s a link to what I posted this morning… https://histruthwillsetyoufree.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/dear-jesus-2/

  18. Many years ago, after I’d recuperated from a major stroke. A life threatening happening makes you simplify many things in your life. I’ve been a Christian since 1976 and growing every day. I wanted to thank my God and thus GROWIN’ MATTA was born. my first novel is: AROUND THERE ON SOUTH FOURTH STREET. I want to place it in the hands of all but mainly those of ages 12 and up. I’m currently under contract with Tate Publications Inc. but…I’m strapped for the funds to pay off the remainder of my balance of $1498. All I doing out now is reaching out to those who will help me promote this book and possibly cancel the remainder of this contract. I know my request may sound outlandish but nothing beats a try…right?

  19. Samuel Hall says:

    Convicting.

    Thank you.

  20. You are a successful group

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