by Rachael Phillips
Not everyone appreciates a good storyteller.
I learned this early as a missionary kid, when my parents attempted to return to the United States after ministry in Mexico--not easy, with still-limited Spanish and less money, driving a rickety car full of preschoolers who needed to pee. The fussy month-old baby, born in Mexico, did not have a visa. As we wide-eyed chidlren sat in the back seat, uniformed officials ordered our mother and father out of the car and searched it.
My little sister clung to me. I urged her to take courage, cross her legs and join me in keeping surveillance on these evil secret agents, who obviously plannned to smuggle diamonds in our teddy bears. Silent and sinister, they also fit my perfect profile of kidnappers. I readied my teeth. If they dared touch my baby brother. . . . But they didn't. I survived to share this terrifying ordeal with the world. But no accolades rewarded my storytelling efforts. Instead, scorn and ridicule--mostly from my prosaic six-year-old brother--greeted me.
Perhaps you, a fellow fiction writer, suffered similar persecution at home or school when your alternative reality, far more interesting than 2 + 2 = 4, did not fit the boring facts. An excellent imagination also came in handy when I was a teen. In fact, I preferred my fictional planet, where every Friday night, a handsome prince, sans Clearasil, swept a Barbie-shaped me away from narrow-minded parents, algebra and hostile driver's ed teachers.
Attending a secular university, however, brought a fresh realization of the value of truth, especially when it came to Jesus. If the Bible's account was fiction, then He rated as just another dead guy who, cast in concrete, looked great in a park flower bed. I chose to believe--and now understand more than ever--Jesus is the resurrected Way, the Truth and the Life.
Still, the Gospel record also assures us this Master of Truth was also a Master Storyteller. He told parables about salt with no taste, exploding wine bottles and a friend who, in the dead of night, dragged his ex-friend out of bed. His audiences heard stories about a prodigal son and a Good Samaritan--fictional characters who have caused millions of readers the past two thousand years to scratch their heads, search their hearts and turn the pages, making the Bible the all-time best seller.
We can attend every writer's conference in Shaw's Guide. We can accumulate Writer's Digest books until we have to move out. We can stalk writing celebrities and mug mentors for tips. Yet we fiction writers can't hope to affect our audiences the way Jesus did. But He has given us words and desire and His infinite, creative Spirit in order to offer Christians and non-Christians alike bite-sized portions of His truth--attractive, nourishing morsels that will help them "taste and see the Lord is good."
Still, not everyone will appreciate the stories we tell. Like my brother.
But Jesus does.