I recently had the privilege of being interviewed on a local Christian show. The host pastor and I met the night before the taping to loosely rehearse the interview. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for well over an hour. I must confess, I delivered some of my best lines and comments! This was going to be the most entertaining interview ever! Since I rely a lot on ad-libbing, I wondered whether I would remember every pearlescent phrase during the taping.
Much to my dismay, the next night, I discovered I had only 20 minutes of airtime, including the host's comments and questions. How could I cram so much cleverness into such a meager container?
The lights blazed, the cameras rolled, and the interview went very well, because a funny thing happened: The Lord was glorified, not me.
Perhaps we can blame a slippery memory or the bright lights, but all the clever lines vaporized. The focus was on how the Lord prepared me for, and uses, my writing. The way I see it, I had been edited by God!
Before John Newton became a Christian, he was the captain of a slave trading ship. His language was so foul that his crew feared God would strike the ship for punishment. God did strike John Newton, but in a different way. Newton repented and became a believer, turning from cursing to blessing, most notably by penning "Amazing Grace." He was living proof of the living word: "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:8-10). Newton put off the corrupt old way of life and was being renewed in the holy image of his Creator.
In my younger days, I was known for having a crude sense of humor. I believed that the more vile and shocking I was, the funnier I was. Many of my friends were ashamed of me, and I was even admonished by some folks from Saturday Night Live, not exactly known for their moral restraint.
Once I gave my life to Christ and the Holy Spirit took over, that language faded away. I still slip on occasion and say things that are rude or hurtful, but now I'm offended by the very jokes and language that I once reveled in. That is the work of the Lord; our speech is edited by God according to this admonition: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:6).
Instead of using our tongues to hurt others and exalt ourselves, we are to "Let no corrupting talk come out of [our] mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29). Words are powerful, and the Lord wants us to harness that power for the blessing of others. We are to encourage others and "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:5).
For a writer, it can be difficult to accept an editor's suggestions and changes. For the Christian, it is an honor and a duty to be edited by God!