Friday, August 21, 2009

Tell your story

It's Day 2 of Dan Allender's "Story Workshop." It's pretty exhausting, not just because of the long days but because in our small groups we go deeply into each other's story.

By that word "story," what Allender is talking about is the narrative or chief themes of our lives crystallized into one slice or piece of that narrative. I am writing a story about a time in high school when I felt publicly humiliated and my father did not come to my rescue. That story reveals a recurring theme of shame, perfectionism, and failure that has run through my life.

Here are four things about story that I'm learning:
  • God has written my story. Even though there's evil in it, my story has been authored by a sovereign, loving, often mysterious God. The Bible teaches this. As Job reminded his wife, the Lord both gives and takes away. I can trust that things haven't happened randomly and purposelessly. I may not know the purpose behind things that happen (and probably don't). I may not like the purpose. But the Author of my story knows best.
  • God has written my story to reveal his goodness. My story contains themes of death, resurrection, and ascension. The more I understand and the better I explore those themes, the more I get to know Jesus and his work in my life.
  • My story is not over. I continue to partner with God in the writing of my story everyday. This is sort of like the popular saying, "Be patient with me; God's not finished with me yet." The mysterious thing about life with God is that even though he's already written my story, my choices matter. It's the old antinomy: God is sovereign, yet we are responsible. In partnership with God, I can shape my future.
  • My story is inconceivably beautiful. To use C. S. Lewis's words, it bears a "weight of glory." However, I don't believe this about my story ... just as you don't believe it about yours. Dan Allender put it like this: "You can't know the beauty of your story apart from others reading it." I cannot interpret my story alone. I need others to hear my story, see how it reveals God's goodness, and help me shape my story in the future. Lewis writes,
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you see it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare...There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."
This is why we need to share our stories with each other - to help us see the glory of our own story, and to point each other to the great Author of our stories.

No comments: