I have been listening to a number of different speakers lately that have all woven the idea of one’s story into their messages. The idea being that the narrative we live is in many respects up to us and we have the ability to write our own stories. Of course this is not a new topic or idea, but the language used; plot, narrative, meta narrative, etc gave it new life to me.
If we feel our story is meaningless or boring it is because we have written such a story. Theologically this has implications because many of us have come to conclusions that we are just waiting on God to direct us. We are then often passive characters in our own stories. And while God is sovereign and may at times have very specific parts for us to play, more often His plan is general. He desires all of us to experience love, redemption, forgiveness, to participate in His mission and be maturing followers. But as one speaker said, unless you hear a donkey talk or are a pregnant virgin, you likely are not on a specific plan.
So feeling stalled? Has your story line lulled? Begin re-imagining the next plot line. Ask yourself “What if…” questions. What if that fear was overcome? What if you forgave that person? What if you moved to a new state or country? What if you adopted a child or took in a foster kid? What if you changed careers to follow your dream? See which ones stick with after a few days and then follow that storyline out to its conclusion.
I too believe that we often feel God’s will is more specific than it is. One of my guiding verses is Psalm 37:4. When we delight ourselves in Him, He gives us the desires of our heart. The discovery of God’s will is far less mysterious than most of us make it to be.
What we need to remember, however, is that every good story has conflict that is overcome. Our narratives will not be free from failures, missteps, or tragedy. They may not even have the short-term happy endings we desire. While we are writing our own stories, we are only co-authors, and sadly God is not our only contributor. Many others are adding their stories into ours and ours into theirs.
The point to this though is that we take more of an active role in our own narratives. In creating the ending we desire. Think of your story in movie form. How is it ending as the credits roll? Along the way did you root for yourself or were you falling asleep while watching? Is it a story of heroism that inspires others or a cautionary tale?
As followers of Christ we are assured of the ultimate “happy ending” but that doesn’t prevent us from squandering the life we have until then. I reflect on Christ’s words that He came to give us life to the fullest. He also reminds us in the parable of the talents to not operate in fear of Him being a hard taskmaster and wasting the opportunities afforded us. Instead he rewards the risk taker, the one who invests and lives.
Until we are dead we have a responsibility to live. Live the fullest life you can imagine. One that glorifies Him and serves others. One that reflects justice and mercy and grace and beauty.