If you knew David Shelton, you know how fortunate you are. If you didn’t, make a note to spend some time with him when you get to Heaven. This weekend, David went home.
David has been doing what I do (one-man, biblical storytelling) for twice as long as I have. He spent three decades making the Scriptures come alive. There are many people who play various roles in the world of Christian drama. David was one of the few that I have come across who also use whole books of the Bibles, word-for-word, as their scripts.
I met David when I was only 4-5 years into this journey. At the time, I presented the Gospel of John and only a couple short books . He already had a repertoire that made my jaw drop. And yet, from the start, he never treated me as anything other than a fellow storyteller with a wonderful story to tell. He encouraged. He questioned. He challenged. He inspired.
My three most significant memories of David:
David the storyteller – I will never forget watching David perform the Book of James. The intro to the performance paints the setting as a funeral, where the deceased has asked to have the Book of James recited to his family and friends. David did the entire show with a spot-on Irish accent. Something about that accent, David’s gestures, and the Spirit within David made those words jump off the page. Since that evening, I have not looked at the Book of James quite the same – and never will.
David the encourager – Most years I host a dessert theatre to share a new presentation or raise money for a new project or book. I remember the time I hopped up on stage to welcome everyone and there, sitting in the front row, were David and his lovely bride, Deb. David had his usual ear-to-ear grin beaming through his salt-and-pepper beard. I remember thinking, This guy is a storytelling legend. I’m a newcomer. What’s he doing here? But to David, it was all about people using their gifts to serve Christ and expand His Kingdom. David and Deb saw what I was striving to do. Their presence that night (and at several other dessert theatres in the coming years) showed me that they viewed my work – and me as a person – as valuable. I pray that my life will be spent making others feel about their gifts and calling the way David and Deb made me feel about mine.
David the mentor – Several years ago, David was in a terrible accident that resulted in him having to reduce, and ultimately leave, the stage. And somehow, David never left the stage. Although he struggled to remember lines, and eventually even struggled to speak, he and Deb continued to mentor teenagers interested in drama. I had the chance to speak to one of these groups and to behold – once again – the widespread impact David had on so many. He never saw the next generation as people who would “someday” have an impact as storytellers for the Kingdom. He saw them as storytellers who had an impact today! Everyone who had the privilege to be mentored by David will tell you that they are better storytellers because they knew him.
David, my friend. Your mind is clear again. Your body now works perfectly. This day, you stand in the presence of the Grand Storyteller. Oh, how I wish I could have witnessed that scene. The one where your beloved Jesus took you in His arms and celebrated your homecoming with the words, Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into my joy. Very few have told My Story so well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh…have I got a story for you…