Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. (Matthew 26:31-35)
The majority of the writing I do these days is for secular media, which means I spend a lot of time denying God.
Mostly I try to rationalize my denial as banal, classifying it as errors of omission and therefore, not as egregious as outright denial. Although, when you think about it, St. Peter had armed Roman soldiers with a penchant for sadism and committing horrific acts of violence to contend with-what am I so afraid of, anyway? No one’s going to nail me to a cross or feed me to the lions.
It’s incredible, really, with the freedom of speech and religion we enjoy in the west, that I choose to be a fair-weather Christian who tip-toes around with God, as if he’s an under-age friend I’m trying to sneak into a bar: “Just don’t draw too much attention to yourself G. and everything will be fine.”
I’ve written stories for publication about forgiveness and honouring the oneness of marriage, all the while having side-stepped explicitly Christian references, or failing to credit the passage of Scripture that inspired my actions in the first place. Why did I do this? Because telling the whole truth-versus burying it in between the lines-about the Creator’s hand in my life would have rendered the article un-publishable in mainstream media. In other words: being mainstream mattered more than honouring God.
The essays were printed, and aired on the radio, but the experience was bittersweet because my hesitancy and fearfulness permeated the work. While friends and family celebrated my success, I was left grappling with the truth of myself as the cowardly lioness scribe at work: she who lacks the courage to be on-the-record about Christ.
When I read Matthew 26:31-35, I sink low in whatever pew or chair I occupy because I recognize myself in it: The arrogance, the unmitigated gall of “Not me, Lord, definitely, not me!,” followed by the ultimate betrayal. Two thousand years later, this remains the greatest challenge of those who attempt to follow Christ: How to summon the courage to publicly align ourselves with Him, at all times and in all places, in spite of the risks-be they death or, in my case, irrelevance?
Recently, I heard a preacher say that the Bible is a miraculous text, and that if we strip the miracles out of it, then it becomes something other than what it was intended to be. His words made me re-evaluate my tendency to cherry-pick Scripture, leaving out the gory bits with which my intellect, shaped by too much comfortable morality, cannot cope.
He also made me think twice about my Christian witness and its conveniently adjustable and fully detachable Christ-filter. When I leave God out of my writing, am I not someone other than He intended me to be?
From time to time readers will write to me with words of encouragement and say, “You’re on your way!” The truth is, though, and I can say this with all sincerity, whatever journey God has in mind for me as a writer has only just begun.