A few years ago, I wrote a story, first published by MomSense Magazine, which got a lot of attention. People passed it along in email chains and on blogs, it won an award for best humor, and it was used to create an animated video.
I would run into people at church or the grocery store who would say, “Someone emailed me a funny story that you wrote!” One woman even told me her sister had copied it off and was posting it in public bathrooms!
Being able to make that many people laugh made me smile. It was fun to google the story and find all of the places people had posted it, and read the various comments about people laughing until they cried.
But then, I found something that wasn’t so fun. On one person’s blog, I happened to notice that the ending of the story had been changed. There was an extra sentence that had been added about 20 or 30 ladies clapping for me in a public bathroom.
Well, that wasn’t true! It never happened! I was furious that someone had cheapened the integrity of my story by embellishing it. With an increased heart rate, I dug through various forwarded emails and blogs from people who had shared my story. About half of them had the embellished version–the clapping ladies version.
It made me so angry. One person (who probably never even considered how it would make me–the writer–feel) decided to change my story and pass it on. And now there was no way set things straight. I couldn’t signal the world and say, “But, wait! Just so you know, there were no clapping ladies!”
If I feel this way about an insignificant sentence added to a silly little story, I wonder how intensely angry God is about the changes made to his story–the adaptations and embellishments which have nullified the validity and truth of his Word. Entire false religions have been built on embellished versions of God’s story, which started with one person changing it and passing it on.
I think we must be so careful to not add to or subtract from God’s story–especially as we pass it on to others. We can retell it in our own words, and imagine what the missing details might have looked like, but the integrity of God’s Word must stand. His character must not be embellished. His story must remain unaltered.
Why? Because it’s his story. He’s the author. We don’t have the liberty to edit it.