If you asked me to share my favorite stories, I could point to a pile of books that have meant a lot to me at different points in my life. But stories aren’t just found in books that we read. Stories are told in movies, television and podcasts. Even songs that we listen to tell a story about the things we value and how we look at them. Stories are also told around the dinner table and living room, as family and friends catch up with each other, recounting the things that have happened, whether funny or sad or joyous.
We latch on to the stories we find important, the stories that resonate with us. And in turn, they shape our sense of what is good and what is not. They open up what is possible, and sometimes they hold a mirror up to us so that we see ourselves in a way we’ve never considered before. Stories give us a lens not just to see reality and to process facts, but to consider what they mean.
Elie Wiesel wrote that God made man because He loves stories. And I don’t believe it’s an accident that for all the different kinds of literature in the Bible – poetry, history, laws and instructions – ultimately they are woven into something that is a collection of stories that form one story. Our story, God’s story.
When we read the Bible, not as a collection of nuggets to be mined from rock, or dissected for a verse here or there, but as the unfolding story of God working among people and cultures in all of the brilliance and brokenness we find in life, we find ourselves in their story. And like the sweep of scripture, we find ourselves being pointed not just to more words, but to an encounter with the living Word of God, Jesus, who enters into this story, our story, to transform and heal it.
I remember being given an exercise to do when I was a high school student, attending a youth conference in Green Lake. I was to draw a line representing my life, and then to list all the significant events I could think of – good and bad – across that timeline. And then I was asked to consider where I had seen or experienced God in those times. What did God’s presence look like, feel like? Were there times where I felt God was absent? Were there times when God felt particularly close? Had my perception of those moments changed over time?
Our lives, our stories, are part of that unfolding story we read about in the Bible. The God of Abraham and Sarah is our God. The Jesus who called Peter calls us. The One who offered living water to the woman at the well offers us life. If you were to sketch out the story of your life, and of God in it, what would that story look like? How would you tell it? What would you like the next chapters to look like as you write them with God, and live them out with the people around you?
Blessings on the Journey, and into the Story,