When others’ words kindle my own flame:
Reflections on words by Abraham Piper @ Twenty Two Words Dot Com
Sometimes people say that 22 words isn’t enough to get my point across. To this, I say,…
If the goal is complete clarity, even 775,000 words is insufficient.
Fortunately, there are other reasons to write than being understood.
My favorite comment about artists is this: “Just because no one understands you doesn’t make you an artist.” It’s always fun to make fun of slightly vague, overly nuanced, different for the sake of conforming to a different community kind of people. But being a writer kind of makes me one, so I need to own it. As an artist, I create because I want to inspire, to comfort, to deepen affections, and to be accepted.
I’ve thought a lot about whether or not I’d continue writing if no one read what I wrote. I’d like to say I would, that I would do it for the sake of writing, and that there’s some inherent value in doing so. And I suppose there is; journaling is widely accepted as a useful tool in meditation and prayer. But isn’t the reason we write is to be read, and ultimately, to be understood?
Abraham Piper disagrees. And I agree with him, even though that means disagreeing with myself, which is something an artist would say. Piper takes a lighthearted dig at his questioners and raises a meaningful question of his own, asking why we write.
I won’t put words in his mouth, but I write because I want Jesus to be treasured above all things. That sounds far nobler than is the truth; I’ve already mentioned I write to be accepted, and the desire to be noticed and praised goes much deeper. But I continue to preach to my soul that all things exist for Jesus (Col 1:16), including the words that flow out my fingertips.
Ultimately, if all things exist for Jesus, then words are insufficient. This is why John ends his gospel by writing, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). But words can also be gloriously sufficient when their purpose serves a higher end than their source. This is why Luke opens his gospel by writing, “It seemed good to me…to write…that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4).
This is a paradox, which is OK because God created paradox (see the Trinity, the Incarnation, Divine Election and Human Responsibility, etc), making Him the ultimate artist. So I create, and perhaps you do as well. If so, why do you write, or paint, or create songs?