Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Your Beautiful, Rowdy Story

Your Beautiful, Rowdy Story
by Allen Arnold

If your attempts to write are met with distraction, disappointment or disheartenment, it’s worth asking why.

The natural reasons may seem obvious – no free time to write, struggles with craft, or roadblocks from the ever-changing publishing industry. Perhaps it’s the time drain of staying active in social media.

But you don’t live in a natural world.

You live in a supernatural world.

And if you know that God has given you the gift of story and you are actively pursuing that calling with Him, then your writing will face spiritual opposition.

As followers of the Way, we have an enemy. Satan opposes both the story we are living and the stories we are writing. I’m convinced he has a unique hatred for those who create worlds with words because they remind him of the Creator. God is the Author of Life. The closest Satan can get to this title is the Author of Lies. I think he burns with envy when we join creative forces with God and are taught – as sons and daughters of the King – how to breathe characters into existence and give birth to worlds.

Hafiz, the 13th century Persian poet, offers this gem: “The small man builds cages for everyone he knows – while the Sage, who has to duck his head when the moon is low, keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners.”

That’s worth reading again. Our enemy is the small man who tries to keep us prisoners. God is the Sage continually dropping keys of freedom into our scarred hands. The enemy does his best to keep us caged so we never awaken to God’s invitation of life and creativity. Yet God is our heroic rescuer who will not be deterred. His invitation is not merely freedom – but a life of intimacy with Him. Don’t miss this. God doesn’t just want you free. He longs for your presence.

If you are not actively creating with God, then the story you are giving birth to has no power. Sure, it may be well crafting, entertaining, and even evoke an emotional response. But it will have no eternal spark. Only co-creation with God adds that.

So the enemy tries to keep us imprisoned, numb to our true identity. That’s why
he rages as God relentlessly drops keys to the beautiful, rowdy prisoners. Because once we are awakened and set free, we can’t help but tell beautiful, rowdy stories of life, freedom, rescue, and love.

Redemptive art flows naturally from a redeemed artist – whether the themes and stories are explicit or implicit. Some of the stories will be categorized as Christian Fiction while others will be General Fiction. I don’t think God loses sleep about how we categorize stories. The Kingdom is full of all kinds of redemption stories – many neither safe nor G-rated. Over the ages, these stories have stirred reader’s hearts towards what is true, noble, and authentic. That is why God commands us to fill our minds with these thoughts and stories in Philippians 4:8-9. It is a foundational passage for artist because what we consume influences what we create. Consider the movies, television shows, songs, and novels you are drawn to – and whether each injects life or poison into your creativity.

I hope you sense how your calling is seen from the spiritual realm. You gift of words carries immense power. You become far more than a storyteller when you enter into Creative Fellowship with God. That’s why your novels may be opposed in ways you’ve never considered. Knowing your creativity has an enemy isn’t a reason to be fearful or hesitant. But it is reason to actively walk with God in every part of the creative process.

God longs to create with you. That’s the foundational reason he gave you the gift of words and stories – so the two of you can do this together. And from that intimacy, the stories that are born can help awaken the hearts of readers. But only in that order. Intimacy with God always comes before impact for God.

See your time of writing as being on a playground with God. Run where he runs. Pause where he pauses. Laugh as you taste the rush of imagination and ideas with the Creator. Savor his smile. Cry with him.

You will also want to consecrate your creativity each day. Here is a consecration prayer specifically for Christian artists you might find helpful.

You were a beautiful, rowdy prisoner. Now you are free. Don’t stop being beautifully rowdy as you write. The world desperately needs more stories that are dangerous for good. In fact, God has already dropped you the keys to do just that.

Allen Arnold loves the epic adventure God has set before him. From the mountains of Colorado, he leads Content & Resources for Ransomed Heart Ministries (led by John Eldredge). Before that, he spent 20 years in Christian Publishing - overseeing  the development of more than 500 novels as founder and Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction. He was awarded the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. But that doesn't really describe the man. Allen savors time with his family, craves the beach, drinks salsa by the glass, is hooked on the TV series "Once Upon a Time" and is passionate about helping storytellers tell better stories from an awakened heart.

44 comments:

Kathy Rupff said...

Thanks so much, Allen! What a great way to start the new year! I love your consecration prayer. Just beautiful! I'll post this in my artroom and share on my blog with others... Very much appreciated -- Blessings to you!

Ane Mulligan said...

Allen, I thank God for the day we asked you to join the team here at Novel Rocket. You have brought us some real prison-busting posts. And this one is an important reminder. Like Kathy said, I'm going to post it in my office, to remind me daily to pick up the keys and draw close to God. Thank you!

Dan Walsh said...

Loved hearing your voice in print, once again, my friend. As always, another stellar gift of encouragement, for writers or anyone with creative gifts. And I love the new headshot. Captures so much joy.

Nancy Kimball said...

This is the best blog post I've ever read on writing. That is all. Thank you, Mr. Arnold.

Peter Leavell said...

Thanks, Allen! Thanks for pointing us to Him!

Ron Estrada said...

Well that was a bit of awesome. I'm not even sure I have a reply. I just want to grab my key and go be a rowdy writer.

Dina Sleiman said...

Lovely!!!

Marjorie Vawter said...

Excellent post. Like several other commenters, I will print this post out and have it next to wherever my laptop is. It's a great reminder of what you said in your continuing sessions at last year's CCWC. Thank you.

Ane Mulligan said...

Amen to that, Ron!

Lori Stanley Roeleveld said...

LOVE. TRUTH. FREEDOM!

Rita Kroon said...

Allen, You are such an inspiration! I love being connected to rowdy writers. It makes sense!

Rose McCauley said...

This made my day and has changed my writing forever! Thanks, Allen!

MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA said...

Thank you for reminding us that we are co-laborers with Christ, called to write His Kingdom and His will on earth.

Lori Benton said...

Wonderful words Allen. I'm sharing this with my readers, in part so I'll have it bookmarked to come back to again, and probably again. So much joyful (rowdy!) wisdom here.

Allen Arnold said...

Ane -
Thank you for inviting me into the Novel Rocket team. It has been a joy to feast on the thoughts and encouragement of so many gifted writers. It is rare to find such a life-giving community - but this is the real deal!

Allen Arnold said...

Thank you, Kathy. May this be a year of great adventure and boundless creativity as you write with God and follow him on the playground of faith and imagination.

Allen Arnold said...

Thanks Dan. I am living in a season of such joy as I write with God and follow his invitation to pour into the creative Christian community. Look forward to hearing more about the new stories you are writing!

Allen Arnold said...

I love how God spoke to you through this post, Nancy. I'm convinced that God gives the gift of creativity to us first as an invitation to spend time on the creative playground with Him. And when that happens, it really does change every aspect of how we see our calling and how we write our stories! May this be your best year yet of writing with Him!

Allen Arnold said...

I appreciate your words, Peter. Nothing brings me more joy on the creative front than helping writers experience Creative Fellowship with God.

Allen Arnold said...


Ron, I agree. Let's grab those keys God has tossed to us and write some rowdy, beautiful, disruptive, live-giving stories in this new year!!!

Allen Arnold said...


Thanks Dina. Appreciate it!

Allen Arnold said...


It is so good to keep words of encouragement in front of us. The enemy has a way of stealing thoughts that remind us of our calling and destiny. And yet God is always present and inviting us into greater intimacy with him...in our life and in our gifting as writers.

Allen Arnold said...


YES!!!

Janice L. Dick said...

Absolutely. Beautiful. Thank you.

Allen Arnold said...


Stay connected with those fellow beautiful, rowdy writers whom God has called to be storytellers, Rita. They are a life-giving community!

Allen Arnold said...


Your words make me smile, Rose. So thankful God used this post to pour into your calling as a writer. It is all Him. And it is His personal invitation so the two of you can spend time together as you create stories of life and light.

Allen Arnold said...


Yes, it is almost too good to believe that we are invited to pursue our gifting WITH Christ...not primarily for productivity but so we can enjoy His presence! From there, so much else may happen with our writing - but the foundation of our creativity should always begin with intimacy with Him. I wish you the best in your writing this year!

Allen Arnold said...


Hang on to that joyful, rowdy wisdom all year long, Lori. We can't write a better story than we're living...and it is for freedom that Christ set us free and invites us into Creative Fellowship. When we create from that space of freedom with awakened hearts, it disrupts this dulled world in the best of ways. May we all fill the world with more of those stories in this new year!

Allen Arnold said...


You are so welcome, Janice! So glad you are writing stories that are filled with life and dangerous for good!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Allen for this post. It was a wonderful and much needed encouragement to me. I love the paragraph that said, "Your gift of words carries immense power. You become far more than a storyteller when you enter into Creative Fellowship with God. That’s why your novels may be opposed in ways you’ve never considered. Knowing your creativity has an enemy isn’t a reason to be fearful or hesitant. But it is reason to actively walk with God in every part of the creative process." I'm looking forward to a deeper creative fellowship with our Lord in this new year.

Trish Weldon said...

Thank you Allen for this post. It was a wonderful and much needed encouragement to me. I love the paragraph that said, "Your gift of words carries immense power. You become far more than a storyteller when you enter into Creative Fellowship with God. That’s why your novels may be opposed in ways you’ve never considered. Knowing your creativity has an enemy isn’t a reason to be fearful or hesitant. But it is reason to actively walk with God in every part of the creative process." I'm looking forward to a deeper creative fellowship with our Lord in this new year.
Reply

Trish Weldon said...

Sorry about the Anonymous thing. Couldn't figure out how to put my name in the slot. New to all of this. :)

Kathy Rupff said...

After making your "Consecrating Your Creativity" declarations yesterday I wrote my first poem in months. And it was FUN, challenging and there was no struggle! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and expertise, Allen. You are a humongous blessing and encouragement.

Marian Pellegrin Merritt said...

Thanks, Allen for sharing. Touched a place in my writing heart that needed stirring. Also, like that I can do something rowdy and it's a good thing! Blessings to you and your ministry.

Robin Patchen said...

I really needed this today. It's so easy to fall into the trap of striving, but God wants us to rest in Him. He will provide all we need. Thank you for the reminder--it's not up to me.

Allen Arnold said...

So true, Robin. It's not up to you or me or any of us...and yet it is an invitation to us from God. To create together. It is the best (and only real) antidote to striving imaginable.

Allen Arnold said...


Thank you Marian. Glad to hear God is stirring your writer's heart!

Allen Arnold said...


Trish - may this be a year of deep and rich Creative Fellowship for you and God as you pursue new stories together!

Amber Stockton said...

Allen, thank you. This word is full of such depth and encouragement. When I began my writing journey and sold my first novel, I was dancing right along with God and creating together with Him. Somewhere along the way, I lost that intimate connection, and my stories suffered as a result. Yes, they still contained the redemptive message, but they lacked the punch of that first novel. I appreciate the challenge in this inspirational message. It's time to dance across the tapestry of words with God. Let's go!

Allen Arnold said...


YES! So glad you are getting back on the dance floor with God. Remember - the primary purpose of his invitation to dance is because he loves spending time with you. Enjoy that intimacy with God. From there, the stories will flow!

Hallee Bridgeman said...

This is an amazing post. Thank you.

Allen Arnold said...


I appreciate your kind words, Hallee. I wish you much joy as you write with God!

MaryLu Tyndall said...

As a fellow beach lover and Once Upon a Time addict, I applaud you for your words of truth, reminding me that our work here on earth for God, no matter what it is, holds eternal significance. I love spending time with my Father and needed the reminder to enjoy that intimacy all day long while I'm writing. Thank you Allen.

Allen Arnold said...

You are more than welcome, MaryLu. Keep doing what you are doing. It's a rare and beautiful thing when writers no longer just write about God or for God...but discover how to actively and intimately write together with him!