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Inciting Incident-What?s That?
Monday, September 1, 2014 by Barb

Ever win the gold prize?

Or maybe you’ve had something else happen that totally threw you into a new world. Maybe you gave birth to your first child. Or won the lottery. Or published a New York Times best seller. Whatever the event, there was clearly no turning back once it took place.

That brings me to the next step on our Plot Skeleton: the Inciting Incident.

We’ve hooked our readers, introduced them to our main character’s ordinary world, and determined the character’s obvious and hidden needs. The rest of the book will be spent trying to meet the character’s needs.

But first, it’s time to travel into the book’s story world. A new experience. Heightened emotions. Risky obstacles. Critical stakes.

The inciting incident is the story’s mode of transportation. Something that happens to change the character’s world. Forever.

Think again about such events in your life. Basically, they can be grouped into two categories: planned and unplanned. Premeditated or unscheduled. And the difference in the story, as well as in our lives, is immense in terms of reaction, reward or repercussions, and responsibility.

We will cover these one at a time in the days to come. For today, I urge you to take some time to consider the life-changing events that you did not plan. Those you could not control. Those you might wish had never happened.

As Christians, we speak of God’s divine sovereignty. Like knowing that God is in control—that God, alone, makes the final decisions—should make everything okay in our lives.

But, in reality, that’s just not how it works. Sure, we trust that God’s way is the best for any and all of us. Tough to accept, sometimes, but doable. But such knowledge, or faith, doesn’t take away the pain of the moment.

An example from my own life. When my husband was battling cancer, I listened to a sermon about surrendering to God’s will. Naturally, I applied this to my prayers for my husband’s healing. Could I really say that however God chose to act would be okay with me?

But then … did it really matter whether I surrendered to His decision or not? Wasn’t God going to move without regard to whether or not I had surrendered? I had to face the truth. God sometimes says no. And, this side of eternity, we may never understand why.

Then God spoke gently to my spirit.

It does matter, My child. For if you surrender, you will go forward in peace. If not, a seed of bitterness will take root and grow into unrest, dissatisfaction, and rebellion against My will. You’ll doubt My love and faithfulness. You’ll run from the very arms that long to hold you as you face whatever the future brings.

I gave God a thumbs-up that day. Comical image, but deadly serious. In my heart, I determined to trust God, with my eyes not on the circumstances or answers to my prayers, but on the heart of God. And when I began to focus on God’s unfathomable love rather than his actions, my heart reposed in faith. Genuine faith.

Challenge: Think of a situation in your life which still disappoints you. Something you couldn’t control. Something you long to change but know you will never be able to. Can you look past the pain and trust the heart of your heavenly Father?

For He calls to us in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

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