Recently Mr. Pettit told me I always feel the need to explain myself.
It pains me to admit that he is right.
I’ve come up with three reasons why I have trouble delivering a simple “Yes” or No.”
- Sometimes I think the explanation is a good story, and, well, I’m a storyteller.
- Sometimes I want to spare someone’s feelings: “I can’t come to your party because I’ll be out of town visiting family.” (Never lie in an explanation, for thou wilt surely be found out.)
- But sometimes--and this is the least noble and interesting of reasons---I explain myself because I don’t want to look bad.
Since I’m back in the blogosphere for the first time this year, you know an explanation is on its way. Stay or leave, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We can eliminate reason #2 , so that leaves #1 and #3 as possibilities. Not to be wishy washy, but I’ve concluded that both are in play here.
I have not stopped writing. (Alas, clearly a nod to #3.) I’ve been distracted by other commitments and haven’t maintained the daily discipline of tapping out words. But I have been writing, albeit in fits and starts.
I’ve been spending time with Sarah Winston, a teenager who lives in the Shenandoah Valley. I can’t give you a full introduction quite yet because I need to finish her story. I started this journey with her several years ago and became serious about it in 2016.
A proper author outlines a plot, turn by turn, and crafts her novel. However, I knew creating an outline would give me just another excuse to avoid writing. So I plunged in, carrying only the story’s beginning, end, and significant events with me.
I’ve told people that I don’t know if this manuscript will ever see the light of day. It may turn out to be nothing more than a do-it-yourself grad course in creative writing. But whatever the fate of Sarah’s story I’ve realized that its real significance for me may be spiritual in nature.
I wanted to write a Christian novel for young adults with three-dimensional characters who have believable reactions and motivations, not Sunday School flannel board cutouts who preach at the reader. Sarah is forced to closely examine her faith when confronted with evil. Her struggle has become mine.
I’ve searched the Bible for answers on Sarah’s behalf and as I approached the story’s climax John 16:33 kept jumping to the front of the line:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (New International Version)
Sarah wrestles with the ancient question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Jesus acknowledges that we will have trouble, not that we might. But---and it’s a glorious preposition in this case---He adds that He has overcome the world. No matter what happens, He promises to be my Anchor and unwavering Friend.
I grumble about my “To Do” list, but my life is very sweet right now. Yesterday I held our newest grandchild as she slept, her tiny legs pulled up to her chest. I listened to her rumbles and purrs and wondered about her dreams. The only thing that could have made the time more precious would have been the presence of our five-month-old grandson with his easy smile and our almost-three-year-old granddaughter with her mischievous grin. (A grin I used to see on her father, Younger Son.)
I’ve lived long enough to know that bad things lurk somewhere down the road. But Jesus has an answer for that too:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV)
Today is Easter, the holiest day in the Christian calendar. The Baby of Christmas may capture our hearts, but it is the Savior of Easter Sunday Who offers us hope on our mortal journey and a safe harbor for eternity.
In order to tell Sarah’s story I’ve had to take a closer look at what I believe and why. Maybe that was God’s plan all along.
And that, my friends, concludes my explanation.