Currently, I’m in the process of formulating a concept for a novel. Although I earn my living through copywriting in my freelance business, my dream is to become a published author of fiction and produce books like those of Joel Rosenberg, Ted Dekker, and Mesu Andrews.
The first element in creating a story is having an idea; something fresh that will garner attention. This part is not as easy as one might think. The storyline of my first novel (that I’m trying to get published) came to me during a morning devotional. Once the idea was clear to me, it took me two years to structure, write, edit, proofread, and edit some more to get to the final manuscript I’m trying to sell. Now that I’m finished with that project, I want to start another. My struggle is coming up with an idea I love. So far, it’s been a bust. So, I’m doing what every red-blooded Christian writer should do—I’m seeking help from a higher authority. I’m praying!
What’s in it for Me?
Now I have to admit, when I think of becoming a published writer, I think of authors like Stephen King and John Grisham. Writers that have gone on to huge successes with massive book deals and movie rights. Perhaps when I get my well-deserved contract, I will buy a house in the mountains where I can have my special writing space with a view. And travel to exotic places for research and of course enjoying the local culture while I’m there. This is why I want to be an author—right?
So now, I find myself praying to find inspiration and an idea to realize my dream. Unfortunately, I’m still not feeling it, even after a week of prayer. This morning I decided to spend less time writing and more time seeking God’s thoughts on the subject. And to my surprise, I found the answer to my dilemma.
James 4:3 … When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (NIV)
There is a word in most English Bibles that is not translated accurately. The original text in Greek is doulos, which in Romans 1:1 is translated to servant; however, the correct translation is slave. Although technically the words are similar, the latter is more austere. Modern theologians state the reason for the error is the negative connotation the word slave carried at the time the King James Bible was written. Slave was not a nice word at that time, nor is it today.
But in the Roman Empire during the First Century, the institution of slavery was a cultural norm. Many individuals in that era were slaves, albeit of different degrees. Unlike forced slavery of America’s antebellum period, a slave’s life was affected more about who their master was and less about them being owned. If a slave served a reputable master, they were considered of a high station—respectable; likewise, if the master was despicable, their servant was deemed contemptible as well.
How the person was treated was also at stake. Although there were laws in place to encourage proper care, when the master was cruel, it didn’t fare well for the slave. If the master was poor, the slave was poor. If the master was wealthy, the slave ate well. If the master was kind and powerful, it boded well for the slave.
Who Serves Who?
As a Christian, I have a Master who loves me unconditionally. He wants the best for me and wants to give me the desires of my heart. He gave me salvation even when I didn’t deserve it, it cost me nothing. But now that He is my Lord, does He serve me, or do I serve Him? Paul identifies himself as a slave of Jesus Christ in Romans 1:1. He was bought for a price and recognized that he was under God’s authority.
So, if I pray to God to give me an idea for my next novel, do I ask to edify Him or myself? Do I serve God for His desires, or do I expect Him to help me with my wants and needs? A faithful slave will always have the master’s best interest in mind in all things, and a benevolent master will have the same when it comes to his slave. But only the master can make it happen if he chooses to do so. Perhaps that’s what the KJV means when it states: You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss.