In a story, the place where you visualize yourself determines how deeply you are affected. If you feel like you’re observing the action, your reading experience will be much less moving than it would be if you saw yourself as a participant.
Suppose you pick up the newspaper and see the picture of a bad accident on the freeway. You feel a little sorrow for the injured, then move quickly to the next article. What if you are actually on that freeway and reach the accident soon after it happens? You see a bleeding victim being helped by paramedics. There’s nothing you can accomplish by stopping, so you drive on, saying a prayer, thankful you weren’t in the crash. But if you’re the one struggling to breathe while being loaded into the ambulance, you’re in the midst of an experience that can change your life.
Powerful stories make readers feel like they’re the ones in the middle of a life-or-death struggle. We call this a deep “point of view,” the perspective from which a story is told. The Bible gives facts much like a newspaper would do, leaving most of the emotional impact to our speculative imagination, and we usually don’t have much time for that. We move on, for the most part unaffected by what we’ve read.
I wonder what was going on in Elizabeth’s mind when her husband arrived home, unable to describe the angel Gabriel’s visitation. How could she be a mother at her age? Impossible. She wants answers, and they don’t come easily.
If you want to experience what she might have felt when she became pregnant, you might want to read my short story.
After gaining some insight into what had happened to her husband, Elizabeth wants to believe she could give birth to a son. With a spouse who can’t talk and can’t hear, can she get the answers she needs, or will she be left in fear and doubt, questioning God’s plan?