The Stories We Tell
Have you ever had the feeling that an experience you had, whether good or bad, was like a scene from a novel or a movie—like you were a part of at least a small story? With the ubiquitous presence of Facebook pages and blogging platforms, I suspect this phenomenon grows all the more common an experience (and likely one that increasingly communicates we are the leading characters of these stories). If the answer is yes, it’s probably because our lives, after all, do tell a story—and perhaps the increasing presence of such outlets to tell these stories affirms it. Every human being has a unique story unfolding as they live out their lives. Just think of it: literally billions of different stories going on all at once, intertwining, overlapping, as we love each other, hate each other, struggle together, and laugh together. Every minute new human stories are beginning in birth and old ones are concluding in death.
Listen to what author Brent Curtis has to say about the stories of our lives:
“The deepest convictions of our heart are formed by stories and reside there in the images and emotions of [a] story….Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes. As Eugene Peterson said, ‘We live in a narrative, we live in a story. We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have character.’ Story is the language of the heart. Our souls speak not in the naked facts of mathematics or the abstract propositions of systematic theology; they speak the images and emotions of story.”(1)
We love stories because life itself is a story. We each have a story that takes place in a particular context, culture, and time in history. Depending on how we grew up, the dynamics of our families, and a million other factors, our stories are going to come out differently.
But is there any common element that runs through all of our stories, an element that we see in every life?
You may have never thought about it this way, but the Christian message really introduces a story of its own; and if it is indeed true, it’s a story that explains the “plot” of each and every human life story. What is this lot? It’s a love story. It’s the story of God’s love for us individually and collectively, God’s seeking to win our hearts again and again, and our responses to this movement toward us. We see this in the well known text of John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. I would challenge you to look at your life, look at where you are now and where you’ve been, and see if you do not find evidence of God drawing you closer to who God truly is. See if you can find God calling to you in the circumstances of your life, even in hard or painful times, whispering to you in joy, in mystery, in fear, in pain.
God is the ultimate author, God’s story the account that makes sense of our lives and brings beauty into our own stories. As one human author put it, your life could be the very poetry of God.
Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
(1) Brent Curtis, The Sacred Romance (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 39.
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