Writing With Dirty Hands
Posted by Luther D. Powell on June 7, 2012
I feel ashamed
With abandon in my heart and on my face.
I suffer the blame
I would show to you this way, but I’m too late. –Demon Hunter: Dead Flowers
Do you ever guilt-trip yourself out of doing God’s work because you’ve sinned and you don’t feel clean anymore? I seem to have made a habit out of it in recent years, and I’ve found even more recently just how unnecessary and counterproductive it is.
We all have some area of sin to work on in our lives. One of mine happens to be anger issues. Certainly not my only weakness, but it’s the easiest to describe. I won’t say I have a bad temper or that I lose control all the time, but I never really know how best to deal with anger. I shock myself here and there. I’ll have some outburst that was uncalled for, act on some hidden bitterness out of nowhere and say or do something I don’t mean to. When I let that happen, I don’t feel right about anything for a little while, particularly, writing. I feel like if I try to write a story with God in mind while stewing in a fit of rage, it won’t turn out how He would like it to, you know? So I just don’t write when I know I’ve sinned lately.
At least, that’s what I used to do. I would sort of treat it as a discipline for myself: I say or do something I know is unquestionably wrong, I choose not to write anything story-related for the rest of the day. The problem is, the point of discipline is to get yourself to do or stop doing something specific for productive reasons. Eventually I realized that if I chose not to write when I did something dumb, that wouldn’t keep me from sinning again. All it kept me from doing was the writing. God’s work with my keyboard. That’s the way I see it.
Technically, if you call yourself a Christian, you’re claiming to involve God in everything you do, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, so “God’s work” in your life should be…all of it. Writing is just what I see God actually calling me to do, so it’s high on my priority list.
What I’m getting at is, when I choose not to write because my hands are dirty, that isn’t discipline so much as self-inflicted punishment, which, because of Christ’s death on the cross, is completely unnecessary. His Grace is sufficient. I don’t need to be that hard on myself if I’m only keeping myself from working. Yes, discipline is a significant part of being a Christian, but if you get discipline and punishment mixed up, you’ll find yourself with your nose in the corner thinking, “I’m not getting anything accomplished at all.”
I’m reading this super-great book called It Came From Within! by Andy Stanley. It’s a relatable, fun and convicting read that deals with the contents of the heart –the unseen one, that is. It has helped me see more clearly the weight of knowing just what is going on in your heart, and how to clean up bitterness, anger and all other big areas of sin that sneak in and keep you from growing. All in all, it reminds me that when my hands are dirty, when I’ve let my mind linger on something or someone unhealthily, when regrettable words slip from my lungs out of anger, I simply cannot deal with that my own way. Only the perfect Christ washes me white as snow.
Wish you the same
To walk beside and carry on this flame.
To see you again
With a radiance of pure and holy name.
Luther D. Powell
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