Living in a Story that Matters (pt 1)
You’ve probably had the casual thought that your life is a story. I’ve heard you say it… “Oh yea… that’s the story of my life, man.” But, have you ever paused to really think of what it means?… paused to consider what it would mean if it were true that your life IS a story… or maybe part of another, larger story? Sure, life has a beginning… a middle… and an end, but think beyond that… consider this — your beginning really isn’t the beginning of your story… and your end really isn’t the end of the story. We get dropped into a larger story… somewhere in the middle… and our fun begins as we try to sort out beginning from end and how to thrive in between. I know that sometimes our story feels a little like the life of Bear Grylls (Man-vs-Wild)! You know… how he gets dumped out of a helicopter in the middle of some deserted place. Then he has to find a way to make it work, to succeed in the present moment. He experiences life at its most raw as he is blindly dropped into the middle of a story that began long before he got there.
So, here I am… dropped into the middle of my story… I’ve stabilized my life… found food and water and shelter, the things necessary to sustain life. And, now I’ve formulated a “rescue plan” and found a few friends and upgraded my lean-to-shelter to a 2-story house… But, it is obvious that more is needed… I want there to be more to my story. Just like those who lived in my story, years before I’ve ever even heard of them, they wanted there lives to make a difference in this world. They wanted to make a difference in MY life (and they knew they’d never even meet me in person). And so, I am striking out on a quest to live for more… a quest to edit my story.
As I look back at the years I’ve already lived (and that is what we should do… look back to get our bearings)… to see how my own story has developed up to this point… I feel… well… almost embarrassed by what I’m finding — it is a common life. It is desperately in need of editing. Not because I live a bad life or an immoral life or even a boring life, but because my life is too much about me. MY story… MY house… MY car… MY job… MY fears… MY control… MY pleasures… MY… MY… MY… When I think about the best stories I’ve read or the best movies I’ve seen they always involve OTHERS…. are always centered on others. And, to be honest, I don’t always know how to do it well.
In Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Miller says that the essence of a story is simply this — a character wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. “A character wants… something…” This phrase seems so simple… we start with “want”. (When talking to people about their lives, didn’t Jesus always seem to start there?… “All who are thirsty… come…” -Jesus.) So… what do I want out of life? Now that is a GREAT question! What is it that I want my story to be about? Do I just want it to be filled with more of “Me”?! More of how I got this job or acquired that car or how cool a new iPhone would be? (I’m yawning already.) Wow… this is harder than you’d think.
I’ve been giving this a great deal of thought the last couple of weeks. My “want” cannot be some vague proposition. I mean, I can’t just say “I want to be a good guy.”, or “I want to help people.” They’re good targets if I’m shooting at the broad side of a barn… but I need something more specific. “Thirst”, after all, is specific. Besides, those vague statements don’t really help. They’re actually a sort of cop-out. They make me feel good about having said them, but they don’t help me know what I REALLY want to be about. Let’s face it, most people who say, “I need to lose some weight!” don’t do it. It takes a more focused approach. So, I need to narrow my focus a bit.
God is calling us into more.
God wants to write a better story for us. He wants to place us into a role in His Larger Story, if only we’ll let him. For most of us, it will take an act of God to get us out of our ruts. For others, a few others, they will pursue a more narrow road. A road leading to life. But the road will not be an easy one… just a good one.
I’ll share more thoughts soon.