Do You Know the Storyline?

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I love a good story.

You know the kind I mean.

No matter what the genre or whether it is told or written, a good story pulls you in and catches you up in the story. I sense the person beyond the character descriptions and watch how each one develops while cheering on my favorite. There is just a hint of uncertainty about what will happen next that makes me want to listen longer or keep turning the page and the author doesn’t show me how the plot will unfold specifically despite clues along the way.

I have always loved to read and by now I have little patience for a book that doesn’t coax me to keep on reading because it gives too much away, has stereotypical characters, words used that require a dictionary on nearly every page, or a plot that wanders to such a degree that I am no longer sure what it is.

This spring has been a banquet for me because nearly every favorite author of mine in the world of fiction has published a new book and yes, I pre-ordered each one (except I just discovered I forgot one). I always like to have one good fiction book going while I have one or two others going at the same time. The others will usually include something related to healthy lifestyle or food, something very inspirational, and something that contains new information I want to explore. Stories that contain historical settings never fail to appeal to me as do great biographies.

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My husband knows that if I am caught up in a good story and it nears the last few chapters, I may not be able to go to bed until I finish it. That happened to me in childhood as well and sometimes I would get into trouble with my mother when she found me with the covers over my head and a flashlight reading after I was supposed to be asleep. Sometimes the book I would be caught reading back then was the Bible. Each one of the 66 books seemed to offer a new adventure to follow even if sometimes I got lost in the lineage sections at the beginning or couldn’t follow the archaic King James words as well. I can still recall the smell of the paper of that first Bible that was tucked under the covers with my flashlight. I kept hoping I wouldn’t get caught and need to stop reading but that hope usually was not realized. But it didn’t deter me from trying again and again. The themes of good against evil and stories of the most unlikely heroes were more fascinating than the reading books I had from school.

Each of us has a story of our own that is being added to moment by moment. Each one includes comedic points, sad points, and points that are chaotic, and crisis filled. How we respond to our own stories impact how we respond to the stories of those around us and whether we will value them. They will shape the lens we use to see the world, its unfolding events, people, and circumstances. Some of us will be realists. Others optimists or pessimists. Major events play a significant role in shaping these lenses.

We can see that from the dawn of history there has been one catastrophe after another and there appears to be no end to them or a way to stop them. If we didn’t know it before, we learned it well with the “war to end all wars.” It can cause some of us to use optimism to create a world that is better or where we can control the outcome. When we do that, we also miss the big storyline and plot we see written in the Bible when those who believe it see the beginning of all created things. From the outset the story seemed to be less than perfect with one catastrophe happening after another. How could God allow that to happen? Where was the plot going anyway?

Certainly, Lucy wondered about that as she sought out Aslan to sort out what was happening in Narnia that had changed spring into winter. C.S. Lewis captures our puzzlement about what is unfolding with an unmatched skill in his epic tale, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Our belief system points to the storyline we believe and what we understand the plot is all about.

“The catastrophe was caused, Christians believe, by a primeval act of rebellious disobedience that attempted to circumvent or displace God. But that is not the popular belief. The popular belief is that however bad things seem from time to time, there is no catastrophe. To face the fact of a catastrophe would involve, at some point or other, dealing with God. Anything seems preferable to that. So the devil doctors the report, the world edits the evidence. People reduce their perceptions of catastrophe to a level that is manageable without getting God into the picture in any substantial way. And so the same act that caused the catastrophe, perpetuates it.”

Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder

If we take that route (some of us may have tried), it doesn’t get us very far or work very well because it seems one catastrophe after another occurs with increasing intensity. Those who know the plot of the story the Bible tells know a better way.

“Salvation is the plot of history. It is the most comprehensive theme of scripture, overtaking and surpassing catastrophe. Salvation is God’s determination to rescue his creation; it is his activity in recovering the world. It is personal and impersonal, it deals with souls and cities, it touches sin and sickness. There is a reckless indiscrimination about salvation. There are no fine distinctions about who or what or when – the whole lost world is invaded, infiltrated, beckoned, invited, wooed: “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” God takes on the entire catastrophe.”

Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder

If you are wondering when He will settle the score once and for all, don’t stop reading his story (the Bible) until you see how He wraps up the storyline in the end. It’s a spectacular ending and I think you will want to be a part of it with Him.

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4 thoughts on “Do You Know the Storyline?

  1. What a year where all your favorite writers have provided you a brand new read, Pam! That’s something to celebrate …

    This is a perfect day for a great big book …

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