By Chris McRae, BCI Discipleship Team Leader
If life is story – with an introduction, body and conclusion; with character development, action, dialogue, plot, narrative; with question, tension, climax, and dénouement; with birth, life, death and rebirth; with voice, power, pacing and drama; – then at best mine is incomplete…at least I hope it is. There seems much yet to be told of my story.
I’ll not recount the personal tales here in these lines. That is for another time and place. If honest for a moment though, there are pages and whole chapters I wish emended from the biography. I believe I will need the heavy hand of an experienced editor to make my life story look good. For now, I am thinking more generically about the idea of life as story…the grand narrative of lives intersecting with plots and sub-plots, connecting — sometimes thematically, sometimes dynamically in space and time.
Every story, every life has these elements. There are good times and bad, crests and troughs, victories and defeats. I expect we experience wrenching lows and exhilarating highs far more deeply than often. The reality is that most of our lives don’t make for good television. A reality show about any of us might have an audience of one. The problem is that dramatic elements are missing from the elemental moments of daily living. The alarm clock wakes us; we stumble from our beds and wipe the sleep from our eyes. Stretching limbs, we make our way to the bathroom for daily ablutions – nobody wants to watch that! Then we get on with our exciting day.
We leave the house, get in the car and follow the well-warn rabbit trail to our place of employment. There we punch the clock, or however else we might “check in” and get on with the business of the day. That usually involves picking up where we left off yesterday, reshuffling the items, appointments, papers or projects that make up our responsibilities. After the appropriate hours spent we pack it up for the day, return to our car, retrace our route and resume our role of domesticity. After attempting to relax in our chosen ways for passing time, we climb back into bed to rest up for another of the endless tomorrows.
The big picture of my life story might be written as such: he was born, went to school, graduated, got a job, married, raised kids, worked, retired and died! WOW! Now that’s some compelling drama!
There’s got to be more to life. What is the real purpose of living? Of existence? Is there any sense to be made of it all? Is life, after all, just one grand cosmic illusion? Is purpose a thing we simply impose upon our lives in order to make sense of existence?
The meaningless, frustrated, hopeless, broken lives of so many unhappy people indicate that a real problem exists in the lack of purpose for living.
Back to story.
Everyone wants there to be a happy ending to the story…especially their own. So, people try many different ways. Seeking the good life some look for happiness by acquiring things, accumulating experiences, accomplishing goals, mastering skills, enjoying pleasures, gaining prestige, or exercising power.
But authentic happiness is found in living for the reason you were created – the purpose for life. That’s a pretty heavy philosophical thought. So, most don’t bother with the work of thinking. Most people live their entire lives without ever knowing “WHY.” They just exist year after year without questioning the reason for it all, assuming if there is one, it isn’t knowable. The most basic question a person can ask is, “What is the meaning of my life?” For most it goes unanswered because it is unasked.
The reason for this “life” we see all around is that a Creator wanted to share his experience of existence with creatures who, like him, would be capable of experiencing their existence fully. Full of goodness, joy, light and glory.
It’s written that “long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.” In ages past God decided to write us into his story. We have an Author, an Editor, who takes the raw data of our days and weaves them into the grand narrative of a story he is telling. He is the Author of the Word. Ultimately my story, your story, all our stories are a part of his story.
He brought us in and made the storyline of the glorious chronicle about his own perfect wonders synchronize with the description of our joy. We entered into the celebration of this lavish narrative by the hand of his beloved Son. God himself is the author who has written his Word upon the universe and in the heart of each one of us, God himself is the one who authors this saga.
Now, there are also chapters of my life yet unwritten. These give me pause. For therein is the potential for greatness as the story unfolds. I do well to consider that the hero of my life is not me. Though I am not simply a bystander nor a bit actor nor a lesser character, Christ himself has the role as protagonist…that reality is what my life must reveal. Therein my life gives glory to God.