Writerly Thoughts on Predestination, Conflict, & Rescue

I.

It’s an old debate: do humans have free will, or are “choices” predestined by God?

I have a friend who thinks the former while I lean more toward the latter (honestly, I most prefer to live in the gray area between the two), and we were talking briefly about this.  The Big Question, of course, is If there’s no free will, then why would God predestine the sinful fall of man?

My response was that I think that rescue and redemption are more valuable to God than there being no need for them, that somehow God gets more glory from saving a fallen world than from not needing to save a perfect one.

My friend didn’t buy it, didn’t think it made sense.

II.

My writing critique group met recently, and it was a great evening.  We didn’t actually critique anything, only shared about our current projects (and a couple people shed some tears, it’s true).  One of my friends is writing a young adult novel for her MFA program, and the problem she keeps running into is that she loves her characters so much that she doesn’t want to hurt them.

“It’s what I always used to yell at you for, Jackie!” she said to me.  “And now I’m doing it myself!”

If you’re not a writer, you probably can’t understand, but trust me– it can be hard to create characters you adore and then force them through hell.

But we have to.

Why?

If there’s no conflict, it’s not a good story.

Reaching_by_fotomachineIII.

I started to think about that in terms of the story of the world.  God is the ultimate creator, the supreme artist, and the universe and its inhabitants are his masterpiece.

Is the same principle at work here?  Did God as an Artist determine that the great Story of the world would not be good without conflict?  Every good writer knows that a story needs a conflict and a climax.  Could that be the very simplest of explanations for the fall of man and the cross of Christ?  God was writing a story, and he wanted it to be great.

You’re welcome to chime in in the comments!

 

Image credit: fotomachine

Oceans & Revisions

I went to praise chapel at Northwestern the other day. Though UNW has worship chapel every week, this was a special one for the semester since the entire orchestra was on stage, a powerful treat.

They played Hillsong’s “Oceans.”

wanderSpirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

When I sang, “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,” I immediately thought of Truest and all its many rounds of revisions.

Here is the truth: on my own, Truest would have been finished a long time ago.  And it wouldn’t have been nearly as good. But so many people have been put into my life to press me further down that path than my feet could ever wander on their own.

And the result?

A better novel.  Also, my faith was made stronger: my faith in the creative process and my faith in God.

 

Image credit: if you know the owner of this image, please let me know.