God teaches us many lessons in many ways. This week has been no exception for me. I'm participating in a Beth Moore study at my church called "The Patriarchs." God has gifted Beth so much, and I thank Him for using her in my life the way that He has. God has used His Word through Beth to help me mature as a Christian.
In the Patriarchs study we've been studying Abraham's life. Last night during the video, Beth taught about the testing of Abraham when Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac instead of the usual lamb. For those of you who know the story, an angel stopped Abraham just before he was about to plunge a dagger into his son's heart as the boy lay on the sacrificial altar. It was then that Abraham noticed a ram in the thicket. God provided the lamb, just as He would centuries later when He provided Jesus, the Lamb of God for our sacrifice!
I not only learned a lesson about God's testing in our lives, but also about writing and how I need to let my inhibitions go. What Beth does so well is to take one or two sentences that describe a biblical situation and prompt her readers to place themselves in the situation. She got us thinking about Abraham and what he must have been going through. How they had walked for three days to the mountain. Three very long days for a father about to sacrifice the son he'd waited so long to have; the son he loved more than life itself. It's so easy to read biblical accounts of situations without stopping to think about how these are real people just like you and me. They had real emotions and thoughts and feelings just like you and me.
Beth also did this so well with Hagar, when she was sent away with Ishmael, her son by Abraham. After wandering in the desert for a while, both she and her son became dehydrated, and Ishmael was dying. She placed him under a bush and she and Ismael began to cry . Beth reminds the reader how much pain Hagar was going through. How Hagar's tears were likely not silent tears, but wails. She prompts the reader to think about how it would feel as a Mom to be willing to do anything possible to help her child and be so helpless.
What Beth does is like the "what if" practice many of us writers use. But, she takes it a step further. What if you were in Hagar's sandals or Abraham's, how would you feel? Humanize these people and you can appreciate even more how you can apply their situation to your own life.
I've always been an analytical person. My practical, tell-it-like-it-is way of thinking often works well when writing non-fiction, but not so well in fiction. My creative side bubbles with story ideas that I get down on the first draft, but so often I fail to take the reader deep inside the character's heart and soul. Beth has shown me what I need to do to make my characters more three dimensional. What she did with Hagar and Abraham, I need to do with April and Marc, my heroine/sleuth and hero in Murder for Breakfast. I need to turn off the analytical and let my heart feel what they feel, expressing it in words. Words that will transport the reader into my characters' hearts and care about them.
God uses just about anything and everything to teach us. My Bible study lesson this week was no exception!