Words Not Wasted

Do you think about why you do what you do? Too often, I don’t. Activities beckon: Ding! Event in thirty minutes . . . And so I go. Then I tumble through the time until the next alert bids me elsewhere. For me, even chores call out from the calendar. I once scheduled Laundry for eight hours. My husband laughed at me.

One thing that I never pen to planners is writing, and yet it’s the activity I do without fail and (almost always) inject with meaning. Why journal prayers? Why prepare Shakespearean sonnets as gifts? Why spend my time tracking one article idea after the next? Why survey a packed conference room just to jot down the way disinterest betrays itself in the way people sit?

In a word: Why write? The question warrants asking and answering — not just for writing, but for every Ding! I want the reasons I write to pervade all activities in my life. Hopefully, this list will help me to make the other lists more than sheer lists. I hope too it helps you.

  1. I write for the glory of God. My ultimate aim is to see Christ magnified in all my life: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). What do I do? I write. If I do not use my words to exalt the Incarnate Word (Jesus), I waste the words.
  2. I write so that I’ll listen. Paul David Tripp says, “If I ever stop being the first audience of my writing, I should stop writing.” Most of what I write never sees the light of day, but I see it. (By “light of day,” I mean social media.) My writing first should make me listen. 
  3. I write to encourage other Christians. I have a Bible. My fingers work. My husband selflessly suits up as an editor. I have a decent handle on English grammar. What is more, all around me pulses a community of acquaintances, friends, and family members hungering for God, and — as Henri Nouwen puts it — “it is my growing conviction that my life belongs to others as much as it belongs to myself.” If my words and experiences can encourage other believers, my writing belongs as much to them as it does to me. 
  4. I write for the nonbeliever. Disclaimer: If you feel like this is you, you are right. I’m writing for you. Many people, ranging from those I hardly know to those I have grown up with, would never click on, read through, or seek out anything pertaining to God. However, when I’m the author, they might just click. They might just read. They might just begin to seek out the treasure of the universe.
  5. I write because it brings me joy. I adore uncommon words, semicolons, thesaurus.com, titles with double meaning, and having an anxiety-inducing number of research tabs open on Google Chrome. Nerdy, right? Right. Still, I satisfy myself in God when biblically-faithful words first surround and then pour out of me. I’ve quoted John Piper on this before, and I’ll quote him again: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” There is no tension between the first and the fifth item on this list. Writing that’s God-glorifying brings me joy, and joy glorifies God.

Full stop.


2 thoughts on “Words Not Wasted

  1. What a beautiful way to restart your blog, Tanner! Your ability with words is truly astounding. Thank you for sharing those words you hold so dear. Waiting for more…

    Like

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