Sunday, July 31, 2022

Living Life to its Top—Each Day—Makes Us Better Writers

by Craig von Buseck @CraigVonBuseck

“That the joy of life is living, is to put out all one’s powers as far as they will go. … We have shared the incommunicable experience of war; we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of America’s most famous Supreme Court justices shared these thoughts from his experiences as a soldier in the Civil War. These poignant words were part of a moving speech thirty years later in a Memorial Day address at Harvard University.

An eloquent and thoughtful presenter, Holmes was often asked to speak for Memorial Day and veterans gatherings. Ten years earlier, in a speech for the Grand Army of the Republic, Holmes made this moving declaration to his fellow veterans: 

“…the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.”

It’s fascinating to read this reminisces of Holmes in the decades after the terrible crucible of the American Civil War. A member of the 20th Massachusetts infantry regiment, Holmes spent three grueling years as a soldier. Wounded three times and enduring a nearly fatal battle with dysentery, Holmes suffered through the death and wounding of many close friends. Yet the lesson he draws from this experience is that “life is a profound and passionate thing.”


Enduring as Writers

While we are not fighting a war like Holmes did, with guns and bayonets, we as writers do carry on a continuing fight in the battle of ideas—and sometimes this kind of warfare can be both exhausting and disheartening. Yet if we endure, we too can experience the profound and passionate side of life.

We can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that we took our place at the table in the marketplace of ideas and made an impact in the public discourse. Perhaps our hard-fought labors can influence the way people think and the decisions they make—hopefully for good and for the betterment of society and civilization.

This is what John Milton meant in his famous Areopagitica when he talked about truth grappling in the forum of thought:

“Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by license and prohibit to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; whoever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter.”

The only way for truth to be sent into battle is through the publication of ideas. That is our job, our duty, and our privilege as Christian writers and speakers.

Born For This Fight

As communicators of this truth, we have been given a tremendous gift by God—the talent to convey vision and ideas through the written word. Our verses become images in the minds of people around the world, most whom we may never meet.

  • Today, are you embracing each day as a gift?
  • As a writer, are you pushing out all your “powers as far as they will go?”
  • In and through your writing, do you “feel, the passion of life to its top?”

While the war of words may be disheartening from time-to-time, we must also embrace the exhilaration in the fight. Lives, marriages, and families are at stake. And you, as a Christian writer, were born and fashioned for this fight.

This is at the same time both a wonderful opportunity and a tremendous responsibility. As Scripture declares, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” (Luke 12:48, NASB)

Embrace Each Day

Each day provides new opportunities to use this talent to influence the way people think about their world. Each day is another chance to share words of truth and hope. Each day provides us with a canvass upon which we can paint word images to reflect the light and love of Jesus.

Each day is a play in three acts: morning, afternoon, and evening.

Each day is to be cherished, for we do not know how often God will allow us to attend this theater of life.

The players can be walk-on extras, seen once or twice and then never again. Many others, however, are familiar characters, written into the script to provide drama and suspense, comedy, tragedy, anxiety, joy, and a rainbow of emotions for the enjoyment and education of the central character and the audience.

The characters also act out their parts for the purposes and pleasure of the Author—the Creator of each day. He is the One who chooses the characters, the setting, and the plot. In fact, the Author owns the theater. 

Who, besides the Author, is watching this play? Who is in the audience? We are told there is standing room only for this performance. There are a great many witnesses; actors whose lives have had a successful run and who are now cheering on those still learning the trade.

Others are young thespians waiting for their time to take center stage, learning the craft from observance.

The Author wants this play to be a smash hit. He has paid the highest price to ensure its success. But only those who follow His direction and stay true to the script will receive an award-winning run.

Though it is difficult and many desire to re-write the script or change the staging, the actors who remain true to the Spirit of the Author are promised as a reward the coveted crown of life.

Sadly, there are those who try to ad-lib, leaving the script behind. At first curious crowds attend to see what the show has to offer. But theatergoers accustomed to the direction of the Author soon tire of the charade. The show soon closes and sadly the actor will never work with the Author again.

But there are also the performers willing to give it all, yielding to the direction of the Author. These are the shining lights—the chosen. 

When the show has run its course, and the actor has finished the race, at the final curtain call, the thespian bows gracefully to the applause of the audience. Then he or she turns and directs the spotlight to the regal box seat reserved for the honored Author. 

In one final dramatic gesture, the actor bends aa knee, removes the thespian crown and places it before the Author, the Director, the theater owner—the only One worthy to receive the praise … each day. 

Watch for Craig’s new books coming this year: Telling the Truth: How to Write Narrative Nonfiction and Memoir from Bold Vision Books and Walking in Faith: The Peter, Paul, and Mary Principle from Elk Lake Publishing.


Dr. Craig von Buseck is an award-winning author, popular speaker, and the Digital Content Manager for the Parenting section of More from Craig at

Featured Image: Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash


  1. Thank you for this remarkable post, Craig. I'm printing your article to keep in my writer's folder.

    "life is a profound and passionate thing." It's such a privilege to have been given this gift of life and the opportunity to carry the standard for a while.

  2. Great encouragement presented flawlessly! Thank you.

  3. A powerful post! Thank you, Dr. von Buseck.

  4. A powerful post, Dr. von Buseck! Thank you.