Author and Perfecter

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:2)

Writers love this verse. I can't speak for anyone else, but I love it because it describes one more connection between me and my Lord. We're both authors. Of course, His work is much deeper and more important than mine, but this verse describes an aspect of Him that resonates with me. I can grasp a little of what it means to author and perfect something.

A writer spends a lot of time on character. We don’t just define a person by the color of her hair and eyes – that’s a generic, cardboard character that nobody wants to read about. So we spend a lot of time understanding her personality. What does she like, and dislike? In a party does she take center stage or gravitate to a corner to watch quietly? Was her childhood happy, or traumatic. And most importantly, how do those character traits define who she is right now, when the story happens? The most memorable, realistic characters have reasons for making the choices they do. Scarlet O’Hara’s proclamation, “I’ll never be hungry again!” means so much more because we know of her determination and drive and ambition. We know the heights that she has come from, and the depths to which she has sunk.

Jesus knows all those details about me, and far, far more. There is nothing generic about the faith He has called me to. That faith He is crafting for me is a culmination of all the tiny, intricate nuances of my past, the accumulation of my experiences from even before I drew my first breath. And not only that, He carefully places me in situations where my unique character fits perfectly with those around me, like one tiny, amoeba-shaped puzzle piece fits into a gigantic picture the size of the whole world.

Authors also spend a lot of time perfecting our characters and the stories we’ve created. We call that the revision process. Did you know that by the time you read one of my stories, I’ve gone over that baby word for word at least six times, and sometimes twice that many? I wonder how many revisions the Lord has done on me, and how many more He will have to do before I’m all He wants me to be.

All those things are lovely to contemplate, aren’t they? But writers who love to quote that verse in Hebrews sometimes miss the context. The twelfth chapter of Hebrews is discussing perseverance and enduring hardship in order to hold on to the ultimate promise of our faith – eternity with Him. Verses 6 and 7 tell us to endure hardship as discipline, for God disciplines those He loves.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week. Writers know that a story where everything is easy for the characters is boring. Without conflict there is no story. So I put my characters through some pretty tough things in order to mold them into the beautiful, changed people I want them to be on the last page.

Now, I don’t believe for a minute that God inflicts pain on His beloved children. But I do believe that He uses hardship and trials and tears to change us. Those things make us pliable in His hands, so He can mold us into the beautiful children He had in mind from before the beginning of time.

Perfect me, Lord. Revise the story of me, even when it’s not comfortable. No, especially when it’s not comfortable. I’m looking toward The End, which in eternity is really The Beginning.