This week I wrote a devo that received more feedback than any other I’ve yet written. I doubt it’s because I had a rare moment of profundity. I think it resonated with readers because it talked about whether or not our stories should be told. We all have a story, some more graphic or dramatic than others. There are times we feel compelled to share it, other times when we’re not sure it’s meant for public display. The rub comes in discerning the right time for each.
SIDE NOTE: The devo is pulled from the weekly newsletter I send to members of our local Christian writers group (Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild). If you’re interest in either joining the mailing list OR joining our group, send me an email.
September 6, 2009
I have a story. But for years I’ve wrestled with whether or not it should be told. It’s a true story, autobiographical, complete with all the critical elements of a gripping novel: quirky characters, heart wrenching conflict, a lowest moment with crippling fear and devastating loss followed by a miraculous rescue and happily-ever-after (though far from perfect) ending. It’s a great story, stirring tears and hope in God’s perfect redemption plan.
Still, is it a story for public consumption, or merely an intimate encounter for personal reflection?
I’ve been wrestling with these questions for a timeline longer than the one that created a story to begin with. There are many moments when I believe the details of my story are some of God’s greatest work, meant to be displayed in God’s hall of fame, a testament of His work for His glory. Jesus said something to that effect after setting free a man who’d long lived in the grip of hell:
“The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him [Jesus], but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.”
~ Luke 8:28-29
A living book, the man who’d been awakened from his darkest nightmare never stopped living out his redemption story, telling anyone who’d listen about his miraculous rescue by the man named Jesus.
Beautiful, but then how do I explain Jesus’ response to the family whose little girl was raised from the dead?
“…He took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.”
~ Luke 8:54-56
Only twenty-five verses separate these two miraculous stories. And yet Jesus responds to each so differently. Why? Why do some stories demand telling while others are better savored in the secret recesses of the heart?
Honestly, I don’t know. But the fact that Jesus responds as such reinforces my conviction that there is a time and season for both. Some stories are destined for public display, in powerful memoirs and inspiring presentations. And then there are others whose value is better appreciated in the savoring rather than the sharing.
What kind of story is yours? I don’t know, and maybe you don’t either. But Jesus knows. So before you either pen it or hide it, take enough time to ask Him what he wants you to do with it. Certainly He has a plan. And perhaps it’s a matter of listening to Him to find out what that plan is.