Narrativity

The small note on the main page of this blog says,
“Here’s my story. It’s God’s story.”
It’s something I have known, but learned recently in a much deeper way.

For the past few months I have been evaluating and praying about what will come next in my story. We had a staff conference for the last few days and a man named Brad Stanley spoke about several things that really illuminated some dark places in my head. One thing that he said was that when you’re looking for where to go next, it’s important to understand where you’ve been- to see the context and continuity of the direction of your life. I had already been doing that (in a drastically divergent manner) but something else he said caused me to realize how I was doing this poorly.

Instead of this being about the story of my life that God is writing, it’s actually about his story that he is writing with my life. It may sound like semantics, but it completely changes the perspective I have as I take stock of the details. The continuity I’m looking for, which points me forward, isn’t located within the narrative of my specific story, but is found where my story connects to a much larger one…

To be honest, I’m not smart enough to figure all of that out, but it does remind me of something else I realized recently. As we were studying Genesis a few weeks ago and we talked about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, I  suddenly saw Joseph’s story with new eyes. I’ve always loved Joseph- his response to temptation and tragedy and the epic part he played in God’s plan. I’ve always pictured him being handsome and kind and I would feel disappointed as I kept reading Israel’s history and Joseph’s fame and legacy seem to disappear. I used to be so confused that after so much attention he is then nearly forgotten. It wasn’t until this last read-through that I finally saw the real purpose for his inclusion in Genesis. Joseph’s story is not really about Joseph at all. Yes, God led him personally and certainly loves him dearly, but his story is much more about a sovereign God fulfilling his purposes to turn one family into a whole nation of people, and through that nation bless all of the families of the earth. God is the hero in Joseph’s story even though  he isn’t recorded as speaking or acting in this part of the narrative. It’s as if he spoke to Abe, Isaac and Jacob and then he speaks through Joseph.

Looking at my own story through this lens is not a way of saying that my life doesn’t matter. My life matters, but if I only look at the pieces of my personal story, or even just the way my story connects with the people that I know, I miss something larger and much more meaningful. I miss that the purposes God spoke to Abraham are still being worked out in the world and that I get to be a part of that bigger story.

The two main questions I am left with after this conference are;
Where do I find myself in God’s story? and, Where do I find God in my story? Both of these are so vital. The first shows me where his narrative is taking me and the second encourages me to notice (and by strengthened by) the ways that God has been present this whole time.

These questions invite me forward with joyful anticipation and motivate me to tell others what God has done thus far.

What about you? How is God connecting you to his bigger story? How has he been showing up in your life lately?

2 Comments

  1. Johanna
    Mar 7, 2014

    Have you read the Jesus Storybook Bible? We got it for Jack a few years ago and the concept is “every story whispers His name”. I had never (in a lifetime of growing up in the church) seen how EVERY Old Testament storyline foreshadowed elements of Christ. I mean, David, sure…but I didn’t see how Joseph’s story did. Anyway…that book/Bible has helped me to see how it really is God’s story – ALL of it.

    I liked your thoughts. And I’m in a place of realizing that these little people in my life are my “least of these”. They are my “in humility consider others better than yourself”. The Lord is showing me that THEY are the ones to whom I need to be speaking the gospel and living it before them. They are as important to “reach” for Jesus as the unreached people group in a foreign field. They are my field of harvest today. I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job, but there it is. 🙂

    • pegster
      Mar 11, 2014

      That’s good stuff!!

      I have seen the Jesus Storybook Bible but I haven’t read more than one of two stories out of it. What I love about studying the Bible as a whole (as our school does) is that it makes it so much more possible to see just how the story connects completely- it’s all telling the same story of God’s love for the people he created.

      I bet your tiny people are getting more of the gospel from you than you see yourself giving 🙂 I’d love to come see you in action!!

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