Life is a mystery; all I can do is faithfully try to follow where God leads, one step at a time.
- Posted on Aug 22, 2013
Working on the Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop series got me thinking about what makes mysteries so compelling. I love that feeling of getting lost in a complex story, of not being able to turn the pages fast enough, of needing to know who did it and how. But what exactly is it about a mystery that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go?
I grew up devouring Nancy Drew mysteries. I know that has something to do with why I fell in love with writing mysteries. But working on my first Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop story, I realized that there are certain rules for writing mysteries that apply to good stories in any genre. For a story to be compelling, you need to wonder, on every page, What happens next?
I love introducing a set of strange circumstances, a puzzle that seemingly can’t be explained, and slowly revealing clues—some relevant, some not—to lead the characters in Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop down the right path to the answer. If I’ve done my job well, Mary—and you—can only see far enough ahead to follow the next clue, but eventually, all of the seemingly unrelated clues will come together to reveal that I had a plan all along.
Which, when you think about it, is not far off from what it’s like to trust God day by day. When there are questions in my life—will my job be eliminated? Will my daughter be safe? Will my health hold? What is God trying to teach me trough this trial?—I don’t know how they’re going to be answered. I don’t know how circumstances in my life are going to turn out.
All I can do is faithfully try to follow where he leads, one step at a time, tying to understand the mysteries that make up my life. I have some clues—scripture, answers to prayer, the leadings and desires I feel in my heart—but it’s a daily task to try to understand, and all I can do is unravel the mysteries one thread at a time. I am confident that God, the author of life, knows how it will all come together, and when I get to the end, I pray that I will be able to understand the beautiful mystery that he’s been writing throughout my days.
Elizabeth Adams lives in New York with her husband. When she’s not writing, she spends her time playing with their rambunctious daughter, cleaning up after two devious cats and reading mysteries.