There is a warm feeling that I sometimes get when reading a well-written story. It’s a comforting feeling that comes with the curiosity of not knowing what might happen next. It comes with it, but not from it. It comes from the recognition that though I don’t know what is going to happen next, someone does—the author.
Have you ever had that feeling while reading a story? It’s buried in the understanding that even in the midst of confusion and chaos, while the antagonist causes disruption and disorder in the lives of the characters, you’re safe. The grammar and syntax stand between you and whatever havoc is occurring on the page. The vocabulary and punctuation keep the trouble within the story at bay. The comfort comes from the voice of the author, and is often most observable in the darkest parts of the story as he uses the evil of certain characters and circumstances to bring about the purpose of his narrative.
An author with a pleasant voice can draw you into the ugliest of scenes and manage to comfort you in the process. This is, perhaps, what I love best about well-written stories. A reader can lose himself in the flow of a good author’s words. I suppose the reader’s loss of control is a significant aspect of the comfort found in the author’s voice. I don’t know what’s going to happen next and I don’t need to know, not even in in the middle of mischief and mayhem. I’m content to live with the unknown until the author is ready to reveal the next part of the story.
If you are like me, you want to hold onto that feeling as long as possible. When you close your book and step away from the story, it’s back to trying to control every aspect of your life, back to discontent, back to needing to know what’s coming next. And in life, unlike in a well-written story, there is no protection from chaos and disorder.
But is that true?
Not at all.
The comfort of being drawn along by the author of a well-written story is reminiscent of what Scripture teaches about God and His relationship with the Christian. The Author of your faith is in control of your story. He is defending you from confusion and chaos, from the evil of the ancient antagonist, from disruption and disorder, even while placing you on the same page as such dangers.
Our story is well written and it brings great comfort to each of us when we hear the Author’s voice in our story, when we notice amidst the darkness and dismay His comforting voice saying:
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Is. 41:10).
That’s what Jesus’ cross is all about. There we see God’s Word made flesh, the perfect grammar and syntax of God. There we see the gracious, merciful, and loving vocabulary and punctuation of God’s Word—Jesus—keeping trouble at bay and bringing comfort to His people. There in the midst of that ugliest of scenes we can remain. There we are comforted by the pleasant voice of the greatest of all authors as we learn how He used evil to bring about good. He draws us there with His pleasant voice, and as we’re confronted with sin we learn that we’ve been forgiven and recognize that though we don’t know all the details of what is going to happen next in our lives, someone does—the Author does. Ours truly is a well-written story full of comfort.
He married his high school sweetheart, and even though he doesn't have super powers, with each passing day, he grows more and more convinced that she does. They have two amazing children who keep Tyrel grounded in the joys of childishness, but insist that he never wear his underwear on top of his pants.
Tyrel is a parish pastor and the author of The Gift and the Defender and Finding the Truth in Story: Grimm’s Fairy Tales.