What I Learned About Writing in Church

This is not a religious thesis. But maybe it should be.

However, for better or worse, this is what I learned about writing in Sunday School.

Usually, I would have been sleeping.

But today I was teaching. And the rest were sleeping.

We were studying the book of Judges in the Old Testament. I love the Old Testament. There are passages that could have been written by Mickey Spillane or Stephen King. In the midst of the lesson, I had something akin to an epiphany. I ran across a statement that said, in no uncertain terms the same thing kept happening to the Israelites over and over while they wandered lost for more than four hundred years.

In fact, it happened to them eleven times.

First, they would rebel and sin, break a handful of Commandments, run off with the dancing girls, trade one wife for another, worship the wrong God, and pretty much get themselves all messed up on both sides of the universe.

Then came the consequences. They paid consequences as regularly as we pay taxes.

Then came the punishment. And it was hardly ever a slap on the wrist. We’re talking death, famine, pestilence, and a fiery pit or two.

But finally, when they least expected it, led by the men they least expected to lead them, here came their deliverance.

One more time.

Here came their redemption.

I thought about it for a while, and suddenly it all began to make sense.

What happened to the Israelites is the stuff of good novels.

In fact, it is the stuff of all novels. It happens between the pages of every book, good or bad.

Pick your genre, any genre: Mystery, romance, fantasy, science fiction, or thrillers.

Study the plot you’ve written. Or study the plot you’ve read.

It doesn’t make any difference.

First comes the sin, the crime, the shame, the corruption, the infidelity, the rebellion, the betrayal, or the turning away.

Next come the consequences, the hard times, the suffering, the misery, the long day’s journey into night, and a killing or two never hurts.

And finally, when all hope is lost, when there is no place to turn, when the good guys have their backs against the wall with no way out, and the bad guys are closing in for the kill, here – by hook or crook –come the deliverance and the redemption.

It’s an old story.

Yet, it’s a new story.

And it’s being written every day

Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.


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