Friday, May 2, 2014

DEVOTION: There's a Gorilla in My Phone Booth! ~ By Shirley Corder

The fog was closing in. Marsha dashed across the road to the phone booth to call her husband to come and fetch her. With relief, she pulled open the stiff door and slipped inside. She peered towards the phone dial, and instead her eyes focused on a gigantic dark hairy chest. Fearfully she looked up, and up . . . until she made out the terrifying features of an adult gorilla. There was a gorilla in the phone booth!

His immense mouth opened and she gazed in horror at his vicious-looking teeth. She was about to be devoured by a raging primate. It reminded her of the time when she and her husband had gone to see the film, “Gorillas in the Mist.” It was a beautiful evening, their first real date. They had sat and eaten popcorn and drank soda. When they ran out of popcorn, Robert slipped his hand across and gripped hers. The rest of the film was a blur. All she remembered was what happened on their walk home . . . 

Okay, this is a variation of a common theme for writers. You’ve created an exciting scenario. A gorilla is a massive animal, renowned for its phenomenal strength. We can think of the well-known advert of King Kong as he rips apart the jaws of a T-Rex, or of him wreaking havoc in New York City. He is not a creature to tangle with. And he’s certainly not something you want to share a phone booth with.

Why did the author put the gorilla in the phone booth in the first place? Because it’s a tiny enclosure. There’s no way anyone can win a battle with a gorilla in a phone booth. The victim would be ripped apart in no time. The tension is unbearable. The reader holds his breath.

And then he’s transported to the cinema. On a trip down memory lane. What a letdown.

What was the writer thinking? He’s created a breathtaking scene, and then left the reader hanging while he explores another part of the heroine’s life. It’s called a flashback, but it’s a dangerous technique. If the author doesn’t want to lose his reader, a flashback has to be handled wisely.

For writers, the lesson is: Stay with the gorilla in the phone booth! The story needs to keep moving forward. The reader doesn’t want to know about the time at the cinema. He wants to know how Marsha is going to handle her ordeal in the phone booth.

But maybe you’re not a writer. Maybe you’re a normal person, trying to live an ordinary life. You’ve suddenly found yourself in a tiny enclosure with a terrifying monster. Maybe you have cancer. Or a relationship disaster. Or you're in a financial nightmare. And you’re so terrified you can’t breathe. You know you’re about to be ripped apart. What can you do?

There is only one person that can get you out of this mess, and that’s the Author. Get your eyes off the monster and focus on the one who created you. He knows all about the gorilla. The cancer. The relationship disaster. The financial nightmare.And He knows what comes next. He has a plan for your life, one that moves forward. 

It sounds so easy, but it’s not. Time to create a flashback.

Look for some sort of object or photo that reminds you of a happy, wonderful time. Keep it close to you. Whenever you spot the gorilla, reach for your memory prompt and gaze at it. Soak it in. Hold it close. Allow it to take you back to the time in your life before you met the gorilla.

This will not only bring you comfort, your heart will slow down, your mouth will become moist once more, and you’ll start to breathe again. So if you’re not the writer, leave the gorilla in the phone booth with your Author, and go walk down memory lane. Sometimes it’s a good place to be.


SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on the time she faced her gorilla in the cancer valley.

Please visit Shirley through, where she encourages writers, or at, where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook


  1. So funny, Shirley! And the lesson is true as well.

  2. Ack! I'm going to spend all day imagining a gorilla in a phone booth. Great image, Shirley and strong message.

    1. LOL! Not an original image. I can't remember where I read it, and I don't remember the moral behind it, but the picture has always stayed with me.

  3. Great reminder, Shirl. I don't think I'll ever forget the image of the gorilla, like Alice said. But how true!

  4. Got me in at least. But agree with your comments re writing but above all that our Lord can deal with those 'gorilla's' in our lives. He has delivered me from my 'phoneboxes' and I walk in His fields. Still, i'm wary of being enticed into those other phone boxes which seem to pop up along my journey.
    Thanks Shirley

  5. LOL! Good point Ray - to be wary of other phone booths that pop up along the way.