Men say, practically, Begin where you are and such as you are, without aiming mainly to become of more worth, and with kindness aforethought go about doing good. If I were to preach at all in this strain, I should say rather, Set about being good.
~ Henry David Thoreau, Economy
Mr. Thoreau and I would disagree on a great many things, but when I read this quote in his essay on Economy, I was struck by it, and by the illustration that follows. He uses the example of the sun, which he says does not rush around peeping in windows to light up each house and trying to do good, but rather makes its way through the sky, and just by virtue of being the sun and rising and setting, does good without really meaning to.
This seems to me to be one of the most prevalent problems in Christian storytelling. People are so full of good intentions, they are so eager to teach and to preach and to help others, that they can sometimes lose sight of what God really wants them to do. They see the rising danger to the sanctity of marriage, and they rush over to tell lots of stories about good marriages. They see abortion becoming more and more accepted and widespread, and they flock to tell stories that will minister to those considering such an option.
And those are good things–if God is in them.
So many Christian writers, singers, and songwriters jump on every bandwagon cause that comes along, rather than truly seeking God’s will for their everyday lives. They are rightfully and righteously zealous for God’s law and anxious to spread the word about Him and His salvation… but sometimes they don’t see the forest for the trees. In running here and there and everywhere, on fire to help everyone they can, they are quite likely to miss what’s right under their noses–the people God placed closest to them, the lessons He most intimately taught them, and the causes that lie nearest to their hearts. If an author busies themselves rushing around seeing who needs help, what are they doing but being wise in their own eyes, and forging their own plans rather than resting in His?
Would it not be better, if they were to do their daily tasks, keep their eyes and hearts open, and focus on growing in grace and wisdom and knowledge, day by day? Watching intently for what stories and tasks God lays on their hearts in the quiet of everyday life. Slowing down enough to see the lost look in the eyes of the cashier at the grocery store, or to realize that a young girl they care about is caught up in a whirlpool of worthless romantic relationships. Being doers of the word, and not speakers only, and finding that when they are in the center of His will for them, living their lives, and being who He wants them to be… they just might end up doing a lot more good after all.
Everybody wants to write like the wind, rushing for every big cause that life has to offer. And while that is the path for some, I challenge you to take a little time, live a little life, listen, look around you, and consider if, perhaps, it would be better to write like the sun.