When I began writing twenty years ago, one of my favorite tasks was telling captivating stories about the life of Christ. At first, I struggled to imagine what had really happened. The Bible gave only a few details, leaving me to imagine what an eyewitness’s emotional journey would have been like. I wasn’t doing well with that.
I often prayed, “Lord, would you show me what it was like?”
I felt sure, if a window to the past were opened, my descriptions would clash with modern religious perceptions. Nevertheless, I longed to see those days. As I pushed my imagination into what seemed real, I became Zechariah in the Temple when he saw the angel Gabriel. Such experiences often brought tears to my eyes. At times, I couldn’t write until after I had regained my composure.
Still I prayed, “Would you show me what it was like?” Never an answer.
Ten years later, I had a vivid dream, the kind that can’t be distinguished from being awake. I was the wild man at Gadara, who was delivered from so many demons that they called themselves “Legion.” Completely free and clean, I felt indescribable gratitude and asked to follow Jesus.
“No,” Jesus said. “Go to the ten cities and tell your story.”
Devastated, I woke up, saying, “God, don’t do that to me. I want to follow you.” But then I had to stop myself. Was the experience in my dream consistent with what the Bible said? I couldn’t remember any time when Jesus told people they couldn’t follow him. Sure enough, there it was, in Mark 5:18–20.
That’s when I learned that great storytelling was the most effective form of evangelism. Duh! Jesus told stories. How wonderful that I had finally discovered their importance.
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