Words, Stories & Lives

I want my words to mean something. More than that, I want my life to mean something. But I’m worried that I have run out of words and that I have run out of life – or that someday I will run out of words and life. It scares me. It makes me want to stop now and have my stomach sink in disappointment because of a choice I made, not a drying up of words. I want to be significant. I want to matter. I want to change the world, and if I can’t change the world I want to at least change Sydney. I want to help people who are too proud to ask for help.

Basically, I want to be a superhero. I want to be Batman and I want Sydney to be my Gotham. Except, that isn’t the way this story goes. That isn’t it. No matter how hard I wish this story was about my meaning and my words and my abilities and my significance, it isn’t. My meaning and my words and my abilities and my significance do have a part to play in this story, but that isn’t what people should remember about me if I do this right.

English was my favourite subject in high school, so I remember a decent amount of the course content. There are often two narratives happening in what we perceive to be one story. Think about Midsummer Night’s Dream, because everyone who did high school English understands a bit about Shakespeare. There is the narrative we all remember – about the mixed up love affairs, and then there’s the much less notices narrative of the people who are preparing a play for those people. Micro and macro narratives some people call them, but correct me if I’m creating whole new concepts because my memory isn’t great with these things.

There is the big picture – the lovers.

And another picture that adds to it – the players.

I think we’re in a similar story to that and you and I want to believe that we’re the lovers in this story, but we’re not. We’re the players who in Midsummer Night’s Dream point out the folly of the lovers, but in our story we point out the glory of the Lover. He is the macro narrative and we are the mirco.

I’ve been thinking about stories a lot lately. Partly because I’m reading Donald Miller’s ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’, partly because it’s easier than thinking about exams and partly because I was asked to share my testimony at a church event and I’m wondering what to share exactly. Stories do matter. Stories have impact. But how do I tell my story while making it clear that it is a tiny part of God’s bigger story? How do I force myself to remember that and not get swept up in my own self obsession and arrogance?

Graham Stanton’s catchphrase for his theology lecture on worship comes to mind – it’s not about you, stupid! But saying that over and over again doesn’t mean that we believe it, it just means that you can repeat a sentence over and over… much like a parrot can. Parrots, however, don’t feel conviction (I don’t think…) and that is what we need to seek when it comes to this. I’ve got a theory. It’s simple, but maybe that’s the best way. The solution is to understand God’s story.

Yep, that’s all I’ve got to offer. It might be that simple. I don’t know for sure.

Perspective is helpful, though. Maybe we think our story is everything, and like the cliché goes, we miss the forest for the trees… or the blades of grass, because let’s be honest, trees are still pretty big.

My Dad used to take me to a place called Boyd Lookout. It was down a few kilometres of dirt road and when I was a kid there was no fencing there because OH&S wasn’t god back then. I would inch my way closer and closer to the edge of this huge cliff that overlooked bush as far as the eye could see. I would get as close as I could and then lie down on my stomach and hang my arms over the edge, while making sure my feet were hooked securely on a rock behind me. It made me feel tiny to look over that edge. It made me want to know what was happening below the tree canopy while I looked over it and I wondered if that was sometimes how God felt when he looked at the world. Not small, but curious and a bit lost. So much would have been happening down there and I couldn’t see it, let alone keep track of it.

But God knows the big picture and he knows the little picture and he doesn’t need to hook his feet onto a rock to feel safe because he’s God and he’s in control of all of this stuff that happens and he knows where it all fits. I guess what I’m trying to say is that God’s story is big and that we play a part in it, but it’s one that we all play together. The view from Boyd Lookout would be nothing if there was only one tree and maybe, just maybe, all of our stories put together say a lot more than one of them and help to create this big story that I’m on about.

That is, the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Ruth and Elijah and Daniel and David and Paul and you and my best friend and my second cousin’s brother’s granddaughter’s stories all matter but the big picture is God’s picture of grace and mercy and love and salvation… and the biggest tree in the forest is Jesus’ and if you will forgive me for stretching this metaphor too far, his tree covers all of the others with its canopy it’s that huge. His story changes everything. His story is what makes my tiny story matter.

I want my words to matter. I want my life to matter.

And they do.

But only because of Jesus.

And only when they point to him.


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