Saturday, December 7, 2013

I'll Take You There

My daughter had hit a rough patch in her marriage. She and her husband were seeing a Christian counselor, but the emotional stress seemed more than she could bear. In desperation, she sent me a text message: "I wish I could be with you guys right now."

What could I do? Much as I wanted to relieve the pressure she felt, I dare not suggest that she pack her bags and come home to Mom and Dad. That would only make her problems worse. But I could offer her another kind of escape...into the world of imagination. So I texted back:
Let’s go to Granny’s porch to eat some watermelon...The sun’s just gone down and the jar flies are singing (ee-oh-ee-oh-ee-oh-ee-oh-eeeee). Tell me what you see.
This memory came from an evening we actually shared at my mother's home in Tennessee twenty years before.  It was a pleasant, peaceful memory for all of us. We couldn't actually go there anymore because my mother had been in an Alzheimer's center for years, and that house was sold long ago. But my daughter texted back:
I see Bouncer and Cricket [Granny's dogs] doing laps around the perimeter of the yard, trying their darnedest to teach those squirrels a lesson…I see Uncle Dan and Keith crafting a complicated firework cannon with Coke cans and duct tape…Howard is bringing a handful of fresh veggies up from the garden…corn, ‘maters, zucchini…
Together we recreated this scene from our past, and it became a soothing balm for my daughter's spirit. She later said, "With that one message you wrapped your arms around me, Daddy (through a veil of tears)…"

I believe this is an important way God can use the stories we write. With just a few descriptive hints (e.g., the jar flies' song), we can take readers to another time and place to gain a fresh perspective on what's happening here and now. Don't disdain the value of "escapist" fiction, because sometimes our readers need exactly that: an opportunity to withdraw from the heat of the battle to be refreshed and renewed. We can spirit them away to such a place, using memories that we have in common.


Joe Allison and his wife, Judy, live in Anderson IN, where Joe serves as Coordinator of Publishing for Church of God Ministries, Inc. Joe has several nonfiction books in print, including Swords and Whetstones: A Guide to Christian Bible Study Resources. He's currently writing a trilogy of Christian historical novels set in the Great Depression.

Visit Joe's blog at


  1. I love this. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. Wonderful WORDS in every way! Hey, Jesus too escaped from his stresses from time to time -- even sleeping through a storm once. . . Years ago I did a workshop-like on Jesus' "escapes," and I probably was the one who benefitted the most. . . Thanks for a renewal of that peace and rest feeling with this blog of yours! :-)