Today I was writing my upcoming post on eucatastrophe for the Pages Unbound Tolkien reading event, when I remembered this little piece I wrote back in April, 2007. Wow, yes, sophomore year of college! I’m still really pleased with it, and thus bring it back for an encore performance, as it were. (As an added bit of trivia, this was written before I’d read about eucatastrophe or any of those wonderful essays on stories by Tolkien or Lewis. Clearly I was tending in that direction, though. A month later, I took the English class that changed my life: it was on “Fairy Stories from Shakespeare to Lewis and Tolkien,” and we did read the essays on the virtues of fairy tales and imaginative literature which have shaped my desire to become a literature professor.)
Last night, or rather, this morning, I was thinking about how I like to joke about how my characters complain about the various things I put them through. I noted that the things that seem painful and difficult to them are only temporary, and that in the end, I always make sure things work out well. In the midst of the tale, things may not seem to be working out for their good, but that’s because my characters can’t see the entire plot, as I do.
I realized that this is much the same way our own human lives run. God is our Author, Who has promised to work all things to the good for those who love Him. Sometimes in the middle of the story, when things are going badly, it seems like there can’t be a happy ending, but that’s because we can’t see where the story is meant to go. We may not even get what seems a happy ending on this earth, but this is only the prologue to the Real Story.
The thought struck me then that as a human author, I do put my characters in bad situations because strife is necessary make an entertaining story. How can we be sure that God doesn’t let bad things into our own stories purely for His entertainment?
Well, He wrote Himself into our story, into all the pains and struggles we have to deal with every day. Not only that, but He allowed Himself to die a horrible death on the cross. Because He loved us, because he wanted to show us just how much we each mean to Him.
I don’t think I could do that for any of my creations. I don’t mean merely writing myself as a character within one of my own stories while I stay safe behind my computer screen. I mean the kind of physical immersion into the written world that is the fanfic writer’s dream. Oh, I wouldn’t mind at all truly living one of my stories if I got a cushy life with fun perks like magical powers or special recognition. But I’m not sure I’d be willing to enter my worlds as a common man, unrecognized as the author who knows and cares about each of my characters, to be finally accused of heresy, mocked, and killed. And if I did, why would I? Not to make a fun story for me. No, I could do that just fine without incurring any personal harm, thanks. If I did choose to enter my world in such a manner, I’d only do so because I wanted to prove to my creations that yes, they are important to me and that I really do love them despite all seeming evidence to the contrary. And you know, if I were willing to enter their story like that, subjecting myself to everything they experience, I don’t think I’d be likely to mess around with their lives just for fun.
I know I’ve heard God’s love described to me in those terms before, but it never really sunk in until I was considering the scenario of trying to convince my own characters that I do love them and that they don’t exist purely to be tormented for my own entertainment. Now, from a writers point of view, I can’t say that there isn’t some truth in that. As I said before, if I didn’t give them troubles, I wouldn’t have much to write about. But at the same time, I do cherish them all simply because they’re individuals, children I’ve created and love because they’re all special. Through my relationship to them, I think I’ve caught a glimpse of God’s relationship to me, His child and creation.
And I hope that somehow, through my role as author, I can reflect and honor my Author.