What sort of tale or story have you fallen into?
This question might seem far fetched but I think that it is worth considering. It would help us a great deal if we actually took the time to ponder this. It just might be one of the most important questions we could ever ask ourselves.
Life, you’ll notice, is a story.
Life does not come to us as a math problem. It comes to us exactly like a story does: scene by scene.
When you wake up tomorrow what will happen next? You do not know until you enter in and discover for yourself.
The sun might be shining, there might be a storm outside, you might walk out to find that your car is gone, or you might get a call from a friend asking if you want to go to the beach…?
Life unfolds like a story. Each day there is a beginning, a middle, an end, and all sorts of characters and settings.
A year will go by just like a chapter in a novel. Will it be a good part of the story, a climax or maybe a tragedy? Maybe a comedy?
Most of life probably feels like a soap opera or a drama, right? Whatever it may be, the point is that it IS a story none the less.
We must know the story to get by in life:
Say you come home from a quick walk to the store only to find your keys missing and your car gone.
What happened?! Did you get robbed?
A few minutes later you receive a phone call from your best friend explaining that he indeed has your car and will have it back ASAP with an explanation.
This makes you more furious due to the fact that he borrowed, no wait, STOLE your car without even a hint of asking you for permission.
You later find out that his wife had gone into labor and his car was in the shop (go figure huh?). He tried to call you but you left your cell at home before walking to the store.
Does this make his actions right? Does it pay to know the rest of the story?
If you want to get to know someone you need to know their story.
“How did you end up in this town?”
“What do you do for a living?”
“What is your story?”
A simple answer just won’t cut it.
Say you hear a story about flamenco dancing on a street corner in down town New York where Johnny Depp just happened to show up… !?!
You ARE going to want to know more about that story!
Take a look at our fixation with current events:
Billions of people awaken every morn to their habitual routines of flicking on the tube or running down to the corner to purchase the morning paper and a coffee.
Humans have a craving for the rest of the story:
Another casualty in Iraq, a storm headed our way, or another attack on our economic well being. What can we do to fix it? How can we avoid it?
Somehow we do not feel as lost if we know what is going on around us. We want to feel oriented to our world.
Please consider the many cinematic stories that we see on a regular basis:
Movies like, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings, Gladiator. Typical films with a beginning, climax, and a surprising outcome. A villain. A problem to solve. A plot line… A hero.
“Stories are equipment for living,” says Hollywood screen-writing teacher Robert McKee. He believes that we go to movies because we hope to find in someone else’s story something that will help us understand OUR OWN.
We want to “live in a fictional reality that illuminates our daily reality.”
We know that life is a journey, but through Luke Skywalker’s eyes, we see what that journey might require.
Yes, courage might be a virtue, but after watching Maximus in Gladiator we find ourselves longing to actually be courageous.
If we take a close look at how the media effects America, we learn that we tend to achieve our life lessons from their stories. In turn, these stories deepen our longing to be somebody meaningful in this “story” we live in.
Daniel Taylor writes, “Our stories tell us who we are, why we are here, and what we are to do.”
I am most sure that all of us at one point or another have gone to others for personal guidance and wisdom. We have gone to someone else with our stories in hopes that they might be able to shed some light on the next chapter.
This is not merely the province of psychotherapists and priests, but of any good friend. “Yes, you can tell me your story and I will do my best to help you make sense of it.”
Maybe you are stuck: What does this all mean? Should you have taken the job? Should you have chosen a different major? Are you supposed to go to nursing school? Are you going to find someone to spend the rest of your life with? What about the kids – are they headed down the right path?
What crucial moments are about to happen and will you recognize them? Will you miss your cues or not see the open doors?
What does God want for us?
The answers to these questions seem to come only when we know the rest of the story.
As Neo said in The matrix Reloaded, “I just wish I knew what I am supposed to do.”
If life is a story, what is the plot, and what is your role in all of this?
“Seeing our lives as stories is more than a powerful metaphor,” wrote Taylor. “It is how experience presents itself to us.”
What if our story is not the EPIC saga? What if our story is one of the tragedies?
Good things WILL happen to us, even beautiful things: Maybe you fall in love or achieve your dream job.
But what if you fall out of love? Even worse, what if the other person falls out of love with you? What if you find that your “dream job” is not at all what you wanted. In fact, it becomes a stressful nightmare!
If there is meaning to life, then why do our days seem SO random?
Our story is not the beginning. In fact, it seems like we have just been thrown into the middle of a huge EPIC.
if there is a God, what sort of story is He telling here?
No wonder we keep losing heart: We often find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, and often a confusing mixture of both. Most of the time, we do not have a clue how to make sense of it all.
Sometimes it feels like we are a random page torn out of the giant book. If we could only find THAT book to see how our role plays toward the outcome.
“To the Question, ‘How did it all begin?’, science answers,
‘Probably by accident.’ To the question,
‘How will it end?’, science answers,
‘Probably by an accident.’ And to many people, the accidental life is not worth living.”
How many of us have grown to accept this uncertainty?
How often do we say, “Well, that is just the way I see it.” …?
This is nothing more than a sign of our shared belief that nothing certain can be known.
“It was one of those greater stories that you can’t put down at night. The hero knew what he had to do and he wasn’t afraid to fight. The villain goes to jail and the hero goes free. I wish it were that simple for me.” – Phil Collins
Would it not be nice if we knew: This is what went wrong and this is what will happen next. THIS is your role in it all and if you want to fulfill your destiny this is what you must do. Wait for this sign, it is your cue. And, this is how things will turn out in the end.
But the shocker is that WE CAN discover the Story.
Consider your favorite movies:
Love. Adventure. Danger. Heroism. Romance. Sacrifice. The battle of good and evil. Insurmountable odds. Miracles. The unexpected fellowship with friends you never thought you would meet.
Think Braveheart, Rocky, Gladiator, Top Gun, Apollo 13, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Don Juan DeMarco, Titanic, The Sound of Music, Sleepless in Seattle and Gone With the Wind.
The films you love are telling you something very important – Possibly something about your heart.
Most of us haven’t stopped to ask ourselves, Now why that heart? Why these longings and desires?
Maybe these longings and desires, the feeling and hope for love and adventure come from a greater source?
All of these stories, the greats, seem to follow the same plot line.
Things were once good, then something awful happened, and now a great battle must be fought or an EPIC journey taken. At just the right time, the last possible moment, a hero jumps in to save the day. Once again, life makes sense.
It’s true of every fairy tale, myth, every Western, every EPIC.
Almost every story you can think of follows this story line.
It is because every stories has DNA that traces back to the ultimate story.
A story woven into the fabric of our being.
A secret written on the fabric of our hearts.
We all have a great battle to fight but we do not all realize that we have someone to fight for us.
This adventure requires everything we have but yet is to be shared with those we love and need.
This story is planted on every human heart.
He has planted eternity in the human heart. – Ecc 3:11
Would it not make sense that if we ever did find the secret to our lives, the secret to the Universe, it would come to us first as a story? Story is the very nature of our reality. Like the missing parts to our own novel, it would explain the pages that we walk on and our chapter in this Universe.
Next, it would speak to our heart’s deepest desires.
Why do we have these longings and desires?
THERE IS AN AUTHOR.
And He is good.
He is the essence of all that is good, beautiful and true.
He is the source of all things.
He made us a part of this EPIC.
Do not be fooled by the villain who wants to kill us, steal from us, and over all destroy us anyway he can.
It is NOT possible that this world started all on it’s own, by an accident. Do you really believe in a big bang? Consider the implausible odds of throwing a thousand tiny mechanical pieces into your washing machine only to discover a swiss army watch magically formed by the end of the cycle!… THERE WAS NO ACCIDENT.
“It is a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight. it is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too. It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against, chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all the confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to good, who live happily ever after, and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by His true name… That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still.” -Frederick Buecher
All paraphrasing was inspired by John Eldredge and his EPIC.