Monday Morning Devotion-April 17, 2023
The 3 R's
(After His resurrection Jesus met two men, who were in deep conversation as they walked along the road to Emmaus). "What are you talking about as you walk along this road? He asked? Cleopas answered. "You must be the only visitor in Jerusalem who hasn't heard about what's been going on over the last few days." Luke 24:13-17 (The Voice)
*Reprint from March 2016
Back when I was a lad…no smart "age" remarks now. I can remember it clearly just like it was yesterday, uh, well maybe it was the day before yesterday. :) Anyway, they used to say that the most important things to learn in school were the three "3 R's"---reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Obviously, they didn't think that "spelling" was important because two of the three don't start with an "R."
Anyway, I have always faired well in the reading and (w)riting and even spelling parts of that equation. It's that (a)rithmetic that sometimes gives me trouble. Oh, I can do all the 2+2's and 4s divided by 2 as well as the 2 times 2s. And once they got up into algebra, I was still OK. But throw some plane geometry at me (well, let me tell you it ain't plain (at least not to me.)
Don't even mention trigonometry, calculus, or anything above that---if there is anything beyond it. I'll sweat and break out in a rash.
As often is the case, you may be wondering "where in the world is Jim going with this?" Well, I was thinking about the reading and writing part. I love to read and obviously enjoy writing. But that has undergone some changes for almost everyone over the years.
There is just so much out there to read. People may say that we don't read like we used to. They may say they don't read books or newspapers anymore. Well, yes they do. Just in different forms. Much, maybe even most of our reading, nowadays is done on-line. Either on our computer or cell phone.
Yes, the cell phone craze has overtaken us. Walk down almost any street these days and you will see folks walking along reading or at least viewing and even writing (emails & texts etc.) on their cell phones.
Aren't those little phones amazing? How did we ever get along without them? Even in the car, you can make a call & survive if you pay attention to your driving and DON'T TEXT WHILE DRIVING.
I still read books. Usually have three or four in the process of being read at one time. That's in addition to the Bible, which I read every day. And I still write books while staying firm in the belief that people will read them. But, just to hedge my bet, so to speak, I'm learning how to also make Ebooks from them so folks can read them on-line without having paper to hold in their hands.
All this brings me to my point. The modern day 3 R's for me are different. The ones that guide me in deciding what to write are: 1) Relevant 2) Relatable 3) Resonate.
First of all, relevance. If you are going to write something that you want others to choose to read, it must be relevant to them. That means it has to be pertinent. The subject matter beginning with the title, must capture the prospective readers attention by implying that it contains a close, logical relationship to something that is important or at least interesting to them.
Jesus knew what the hot buttons of the people were. His messages were relevant to their times and conditions. He used parables (story telling) to draw them in. According to Jacob Sahms, (mustardseedthoughts.com,) "Jesus didn't belabor his listeners with deep theology and troublesome words, but rather settled on stories to shine a light on what God was really like. Jesus told stories to 'warm us up' to ideas, helping us deduce and figure out meanings on their own. He used parables to help us consider belief, prayer, witnessing, serving, loving our neighbor and seeking forgiveness among other things."
Were these stories relevant? Well, since they have been preserved for over two thousand years, I guess they were. Following that example, I must first determine if what I am considering writing about is relevant.
Once we hit on an idea to share that seems to be pertinent to the way we live and the things that folks are interested in, then we must determine if it is relatable. This means the readers need to be able to see how this can be related to or have a connection in their lives. And going beyond that how they cannot only use it but share it with others.
We've all read a good book or a great story---one that touches us in some way. It may be funny or sad, instructive, thought provoking, challenging, motivating or contain elements that in a variety of ways may affect us. And usually, the first thing we want or feel compelled to do is to share it with someone. Or in some cases we will retell it many times over.
In my case, those kinds of stories could end up in a devotion, or a talk, or as an attention-getter in conversations with friends, even as a post on Facebook. But, no matter how they are used it is because they were relatable.
Finally does the story resonate with the reader, hearer, etc. According to the dictionary if something resonates that means it has resonance. Resonance is reinforcement or a prolonging of something. It's most often used with sounds, often musical ones. In our case to be resonant means the story becomes reinforced by us. It gains momentum, has a certain amount of power in our lives.
If it resonates with us, it changes us even if it is in some small way. Or in a larger more meaningful way as it enlarges our thinking, alters our opinion, amuses, entertains, makes us laugh. Its message can make us happy or sad and it can set into motion a string of events. As we feel constrained to tell the story to someone and they tell someone else who, in turn, shares it with another person or persons.
So, yes…the (w)riting part of the 3 Rs has power. The power to change. To make a difference in some way in someone's life. That is why I love to write. Not that the things I write are of earth-shaking importance, but because they reach out to others with a message. This message may be interpreted in many different ways because the readers come from many different backgrounds and their lives have been shaped by a variety of experiences.
But the most important part of this equation is by reaching out through writing we touch the lives of others and that is a good thing. It's good to remember the 3 Rs when thinking about sharing a story with others.
You may have, like the two men on the road to Emmaus, a story that is too exciting not to tell.
Prayer: Lord, please help us to discern the stories to tell and may they always honor you. Amen!