Storyless – the word struck me like a two-ton bomb out of the midnight sky. “Being without a story.” What a dreadful word for an author to dwell on. What would the world be without story? I shudder just typing it. I love stories. I can’t imagine living life without one. And yet that is precisely what many would have us believe about our own lives.
Case in point: just last week I had an exchange with a friend on Facebook who has abandoned his “childish” faith in Christ and “grown up” into an atheist. With his big boy pants firmly tightened around his waist, he now fires shots at his Christian friends in hopes that they will engage him in discourse. Many do. I’ve often avoided it because I know it’s only intended to antagonize people, but I set my better judgement aside for once and decided to jump in. I’m glad I did.
It seems, my friend has convinced himself (as every atheist ultimately must) that all morals are myth – fables fashioned by mere mortals to deceive other mortals into living in peace with each other. For them, believing in God is about as effective as an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. Oh, there may be a grain of truth here and there in all religions but Christianity (like the others) is nothing more than bedtime stories devised to scare us into being “good” (as if there is such a thing as good or bad without a God).
Simply put, my friend is living as if there is no Story. As if the world he populates is a blank sheet, spawned by some random blank sheet bang that came from nothing. For him, the laws of order in the universe are really nothing more than laws of chaos. It’s about as believable as a book that writes itself, if you ask me. He chooses to believe in this nonsense because the alternative is that there IS order, there ARE laws and he IS subject to the authority of the Author. He chooses to believe and worship “nothing” because the only other option frightens him.
And so, I say, he is living a storyless life. (Shudder…there’s that word again.) He cannot accept the fact that he is written intentionally and for a purpose; that there is a loving Author who does not make mistakes.
Thank God that Scriptures tell us a different story. They show us that there is a plan for all men; a reason for both good and evil. It claims that we are part of a story in which every one of our days is known and determined, the ending of which is already written.
Psalm 139:13-16 – “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
One cannot read the Bible at face value and deny the fact that all throughout its pages, it boldly claims there is a great story at work. The Author has never lost control or taken a back seat in his writing. His will is always moving forward.
But how, you may ask, can I claim this when so much evil and suffering abounds in this world? Is the Author evil?
Let me answer with another question. Who are you, O Character, to claim you know better than the Author what is needed in his story?
As an author, I don’t ask my characters for permission to let them suffer or face evil. I know the troubles they face will ultimately be for their good. I don’t revel in the difficulty, but without trials their overcoming would not nearly be as good. We do not know what is good for us. Our perspective is two dimensional, the Author alone has the full picture.
As Randy Alcorn puts it in his book If God is Good, “How many of us would have chosen to leave the warmth and security of our mother’s womb for a world of noise, bright lights, cold, hunger, and thirst? Think how much we gave up when we left the womb. Yet, knowing what you know now, would you want to go back?”
The story is perfect. We can trust the Author to do what is best. But the best part of all is that we, the characters, are not left alone in this Story and our struggles. The Author has not abandoned our book, leaving us on the shelf after having so loving penned it. He has done something more wonderful than any other author ever could. He has written himself into it, to live among its pages and with its characters. He has not spared himself from the darkest parts. He has not asked us to go through anything he has not himself overcome.
No, the Author has written this story in his own blood. And so, we cannot fault him for the plot twists we don’t like. No man has suffered more than he has.
The Story, HIS story, is always at work.
Life is not meaningless. For those who trust the Author, we can live with confidence and hope. We don’t have to live a storyless life. And that is something worth believing.
I’m glad for the Story. Are you?