Janet sat midway back at church, refusing to close her eyes. How embarrassing it would be if she drifted off and began to snore. The problem? It wasn’t her lack of sleep from the night before. The preacher was boring.
“You won’t believe what happened yesterday,” the preacher said. “This may have been the most embarrassing moment of my life.”
As if a burglar alarm had just gone off, Janet was wide awake. Where had the preacher been on Saturday? What had he done? She watched him dramatize his preparation for speaking to 300 men at breakfast. She felt like she was the one who had just been introduced, walking onto the stage, heart pounding with anticipation, confident yet fearful that something could go wrong.
While hearing him describe how everyone was laughing, how his presentation was going so well, she sat on the edge of her seat, sure that something was about to go wrong. The suspense kept her engaged, eager to hear more, until that climactic moment when she felt his embarrassment. He was wearing his golf shirt inside out.
As the preacher made his point, saying who we are is more important than how we look, Janet realized that the story she was writing needed more work. To keep her readers awake, she needed more tension, building suspense, making them desperate to find out what happens.
The Bible says we triumph by “the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). If we engage our audience in the suspense, our stories can be the most effective form of evangelism, but otherwise, people may sleep through our message.