Sanctifcation and a Writer’s Revising

Sanctification is one of the most beautiful processes of the human experience. In his own time and through his own way, the Lord molds and shapes his children more into the likeness of Christ, changing beliefs and behaviors to better echoes the divine through a greater view of God, others, and self. This process may be through external trial engaging the world around us or internal conflict against our stubborn nature.

For some this process is incredibly visible–they go from hot-tempered, obscene, violent, or lecherous to patient, gentle, kind, and self-controlled. For others the process is more subtle. Their bitterness or prejudice dissipates; the arrogance of their heart softens; they find new joy regardless of environment. Smaller cues like withheld asides or offered praise provide a hint of deep transformation, though somewhat hidden. Through incremental and, often, incredibly slow changes of mind, heart, and soul, a person consistently but gradually better reflects his Savior, Jesus.

As a man whose journey of sanctification has proven a constant source of encouragement, I can only hold the process as integral to my health and wellness, spiritually and otherwise. Yes, it has been difficult; heartbreak is always is, but the end result is ever more valuable than the price I have paid to reach it. To know and love God to the degree I do now is worth the pain and folly it took to reach said depth of communion with the Triune Lord.

When I consider the Lord’s patience and mercy toward me despite my obstinance and obstreperous pride, I can only praise and thank him. I am often reminded to do this when writing, while writing, and through writing. Indeed, I find the process of editing and revising to be a beautiful picture of sanctification. All analogies fall apart at some degree, but join me in following this one as far as you will.

The writer begins with a thought, an idea; he gives that idea existence by putting it to the page (or digital screen). As the DNA of that idea is fleshed through symbols of letters, combined to form words, united to make sentences, the soul of the idea becomes more full. But that initial draft, that first exposure from the ether of concept to the concrete reality of being is merely the birth and childhood of a larger, greater version of itself.

So the author goes to work. The initial draft could function as any story might, but it also has its faults. Perhaps the middle is imbalanced; the climax lacks resonance; maybe third act problems point to first act problems. So the author trims; he rewrites moments; he alters the structure so that the storytelling priorities better align. One segment of the script must be removed to make room for scenes that prove more poignant, or a chapter that once felt beautiful and true becomes far less elegant when compared to the whole.

In time and after much work, the author changes the entire story into something more than it was in the first, making the narrative a truer picture of what he means to communicate. The central theme once lost in a mire of disjointed dialogue, excessive wordiness, or blind ambition,  presents itself with greater clarity. Those who look at the final product say, “Ah, I understand.” The work speaks for itself (or so they say), and what it communicates is that its author is a careful, mindful creator who put time, effort, and energy into this work of art. The author poured himself into it. The author loved it.

I consider the work of revisions, and I think to myself, “My Lord God, you are so good to us.”

As a writer and editor, I deal with an inanimate object. Inasmuch as a story may “have life”, it does not possess free will and arrogance such as we humans do. Yet the Lord continues to craft us (and our stories), making us into the full person we can become through a greater relationship with him. He shifts our heart’s affection and alters our mind’s focus, all the while we kick, scream, and wallow in self-pity (or perhaps that’s just me). To consider where I am now from where I was years ago, I conclude that he is good, and I look toward the future with great anticipation.

When I write, I worship. I’ve said as much in prior posts. When I edit a story to make it more beautiful, more revealing of truth and goodness, I echo God’s own act of sanctification in his children. When I see the parallels between the two, I cannot help be grateful that the Lord has seen fit to sanctify me at all; that he has loved me enough to change me, to revise my priorities, to edit my expectations. He is so good: better than even the greatest of human authors and worthy of far more praise.