In Bill Roorbach’s book Writing Life Stories, he tells an anecdote about one of his elderly students, a woman of 85. He asked her a flippant question, a question he did not expect her to answer. He asked, “Jane, tell us, what’s the secret to life?”
Roorbach writes –
“Jane smiled benignly, forgiving me my sardonic nature, tilted her head and said without the slightest pause: “Searching.”
An indignant Chuck (another student), said, “Not finding?” quite sure he had it right. “No, no, no,” Jane said emphatically, letting her beatific smile spread, “Searching.” (Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach p.53-54)
Frans Kafka once said – “One reads in order to ask questions.” Perhaps one should also write from that perspective, not to provide, but to seek the answers, those answers that will resonate deep and long as they touch that central part of our being where God resides; those answers that will lead us and our readers to more questions.
The trap of pride lurks, ready to ensnare us. It is in arrogance that we write believing we possess the complete unadulterated truth. Jesus is the only One who lives in that place. Jesus is truth. We are merely those, as J. Hudson Taylor says, who are seeking to bring our own souls under its influence.
Oswald Chambers, who has written one of the most popular devotional books ever written, said – “The author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance.”
I think the author who is most true to himself, and his readers, is the one who admits that truth has been dumbly struggling in her, as well. It is when we as writers struggle to give utterance, struggle toward that wholeness, that holiness, that we succeed, no matter whether the result is published in the New Yorker with an audience of millions or in a local newsletter with an audience of a few hundred.
John 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”