February 02, 2014

Let Mystery Do Its Work - Marcia Lee Laycock

“Let mystery do its work – encourage the listener (or reader) to participate.” Jeffery Overstreet
“Awaken the questions. Tease the mind into active thought.” – C. H. Dodd

Jesus was the master of mystery. He spoke in parables and hyperbole and metaphor. He rarely, if ever, gave a direct answer to a question. Often he answered a question with another one.

I imagine his disciples were often wandering around with quizzical looks on their faces as they tried to figure out what it was he was teaching them. And I imagine they found that very frustrating. But I’m sure, after wandering the landscape of Palestine with their teacher for three years, they came to an understanding that it was as they searched and pondered and struggled to understand, that they learned more and more about Him and His kingdom.

As writers I believe this is something we should emulate in our work. I believe, as C. H. Dodd said, that we should “awaken the questions” more than seek to provide the answers. It is when we leave our readers asking questions that they become completely engaged in our stories. They want to find the answers and it is oh so much more satisfying when they are led to discover them on their own.

Think about a book you love. What was it about those words that drew you in? The poetry of language perhaps, the lovely flow of words that seemed to sing? Or was it a deeper understanding of something that had eluded you before, the epiphany, the discovery of that which had been hidden? In most cases our favorites are books that were a blend of these things, books that made us think, made us ask questions, books that led us deeper into the mystery of life and the spiritual realm.

When our readers are caught up with the mystery of our stories they can’t let them go. The characters linger because there is a bit of a puzzle in their personality. Their motivations are deep and complex, their fears and foibles real yet still something to make the reader wonder. And then, when the mystery becomes clear, the reader understands more about the world, more about himself and more about the One who created both.

As  David Weinberger has said, "We don't need more information. We don't need better information ... We need understanding ... And understanding is not more or higher information. If you want understanding, you have to reenter the human world of stories. If you don't have a story, you don't have understanding."
So let’s follow Christ. Ask the questions, spin the tales, tease the mind and awaken the soul. It’s what He taught us to do. It’s what good writing is all about.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards.

Marcia also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded here. Visit Marcia’s Website.  To receive Marcia's bi-weekly devotional directly to your inbox, email her. 


  1. An interesting post that I enjoyed reading.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree, Marcia. It is the lingering questions that make a book stand out in my mind - the possibility of future installments or a cliffhanger that brings me back for more, rather than everything tied up in a neat box...

  3. Marcia,
    That's what led me to Jesus - asking questions. Reading but asking more questions. You are perfectly right, our faith grows as we discover and understand more and more.

  4. Thanks for this inspiring blog, Marcia. As writers who are Christian, we can do more than create stereotypical characters and simple solutions or platitudes. Yes, I too love book with words that flow, words that draw us in, words that sing. Like you, however, I believe that books should make us think and ask questions; books should help us understand the mysteries of life and the "spiritual realm."

    What you've written here does inspire me to "ask the questions, spin the tales, tease the mind and awaken the soul." Blessings.

  5. I agree, Marcia. Discovering the truth for ourselves is always more powerful than being told by somebody else. Thanks for your insight!



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