It’s 12:03am on Monday, March 3rd, and my rough draft was due to arrive in my new editor’s inbox in nine hours. I’d just written the last sentence of my 111,655-word Pharaoh’s Daughter manuscript, and I emailed the final two chapters to my sweet husband for proofreading.
This was my third straight night of after-midnight, 20-hour-a-day editing in a row—after the previous three weeks of 10-hour-a-day editing. My eyeballs were bulging. Ears were ringing. Head was pounding. And fingers were cramping.
The glamorous life of an author, right?
So, I walked into the living room to see how my hubby’s proof-reading was going. He’d spent his whole weekend reading this manuscript, but I’d waited until he read the last two chapters to ask his opinion of the story.
I tapped my toe, waiting (im)patiently as he finished the last page.
“The story is amazing—but the ending is too abrupt and falls flat. This story deserves a better ending.”
I wanted to punch him.
Only Your True Friends Will Tell You
My husband and I have been married for almost thirty years, and we’ve known each other since third grade. I know he would never intentionally injure me.
Because I’m secure in that knowledge, I knew telling me the truth had cost him. He began back-pedaling, soft-shoeing, trying to gently say what I already knew in my heart.
He was absolutely right.
The end of the story was weak, and only a TRUE friend tells the truth when the truth may hurt.
Prophets Tell the Truth
If you or someone you know has a propensity for truth telling, perhaps you’re a prophet—or not. There’s a guy in my new release, In the Shadow of Jezebel, who didn’t really think HE was a prophet—though he prophesied to Judah…and a good friend.
Scripture first introduces us to Obadiah while he’s a royal advisor in Israel, protecting real Yahweh prophets from Jezebel and serving as King Ahab’s go-to advisor during a three-year famine:
“While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, ‘Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.’” 1 Kings 18:4-5
However, Scripture also contains the Book of Obadiah, a short prophecy—one chapter with twenty-one verses. Obadiah’s message addresses the nation of Judah, not Ahab and Jezebel’s Israel, so my fiction brain had to concoct a plausible reason Ahab’s guy ended up in Judah—specifically prophesying about “Mount Zion,” which is Jerusalem. You’ll have to read the book to see what I came up with. 😉
(Don’t you think the guy pictured below looks like an “Obadiah” kind of fella? I love to find faces for my characters…)
Obadiah Was A True Friend
Besides the biblical prophecy recorded in Scripture, I found the character of Obadiah represented in Scripture to be a painfully honest man. Elijah appears to Obadiah one day—after King Ahab and Jezebel had scoured all over Judah to have Elijah end the three-year drought.
Obadiah’s first reaction to the Yahweh prophet?
“‘What have I done wrong…that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death?…There is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you…But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me.” 1 Kings 18:9-12
See? Honest. So, that’s how I portrayed him in the book, In the Shadow of Jezebel. When one of his oldest and dearest friends struggles with recurring sin in his life—Obadiah calls it.
He loves his friend enough to tell the truth. Gently. Firmly. Lovingly.
Too Much Truth
I should give one warning before we all run out and begin spouting truth at one another…
Obadiah wasn’t the designated “fixer.” Only once did he use his Truth to very carefully lance the boil of sin in his long-time friend’s life.
If we find ourselves being the designated “fixer” of all our friends, chances are we’re working through a critical spirit instead of through the humble Spirit of Truth. The Apostle Paul warns of this very thing:
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1 (emphasis added)
I read once that the Greek word used for “restore” in this passage is a medical term describing the process a surgeon uses to set the miniscule, fine bones of the hand. It’s a delicate process, one we must undertake with much care, caution, and direction from the Great Physician.
Trusting a Friend
When my hubby told me the ending was weak, I trusted his insight. I trusted him because he’d earned the right to speak into my life. He’d spent well over thirty years building that trust. (Not to mention the five loads of laundry he’d done that day!)
I listen best to those who have earned the right to speak truth into my life. I must remember that when I feel led to speak truth—have I earned the right?
- Find out why I wanted to punch my husband when he read my rough draft! #shadowofjezebel
- Fixing all your friends? Are you a truth-teller or simply critical? #shadowofjezebel
- I listen best to those who have earned the right to speak truth into my life. #shadowofjezebel
- Have you discovered a good way to discern if you should speak the truth to a friend or keep silent? (Obviously, pray—but anything specific you listen for in prayer?)