Resisting the Urge to Explain

Marcia Laycock is a pastor’s wife and mother of three grown daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone, and has published two devotional books, Spur of the Moment, which has just been expanded and re-printed, and Focused Reflections, a devotional for special occasions. Visit Marcia’s website –

I confess I’ve let my writing slip a little too far into the preaching mode at times. I’ve been a bit – well, maybe more than a bit defensive about that, when accused of it. I rationalized – I’m a believer in Christ. I want others to know the joy and freedom of that relationship. So what if I preach now and then?

But then I remember this poem I wrote – and rewrote, and wrote again – it was for a contest and I tried hard to get it right. I liked the image I was using as a metaphor and I felt that God wanted me to write it. I knew it was all about God, but when I tried to insert Him in a straightforward way, it just didn’t seem to work.

The contest had nothing to do with Christian writing. It wasn’t run by a Christian group and the work would not have a Christian audience. It was a golden opportunity to witness, I reasoned. I typed out two final versions – one with a verse that explained, for those not swift enough to understand, that the poem was all about my relationship to my heavenly father. I put each version on the table in front of me. Then I argued with myself.

Cut that last verse. It weakens the poem.

But I want to be a witness for Christ.

But the poem doesn’t work if you tell the reader what it means.

But what if they don’t get it.

So what if they don’t. Be true to the poem.

What about being true to Christ?

Then I had a thought that, to use a cliché, stopped me in my tracks.

Can’t God speak through the words without your help?


I cut the last verse.

The poem won first place in the competition. The judge’s comments took my breath away. “The power of this piece lies in the subtle yet profound connection to a heavenly father, giving the piece depth and causing the reader to ponder.”


I guess He really doesn’t need my help.