Over the past couple of weeks I have been reflecting on being open to God’s Story and Vision in my life. How do I go about living not just for myself, but being part of what God is doing in the world?
In reflecting on this, I realize that how open I am is dependent upon how I tell my story, particularly who I see as the main character in my story.
I was recently engaged in such a conversation involving how we go about telling our stories in serving as a reader for a Doctor of Ministry oral exam for a student of mine who was in a doctoral seminar I taught at Perkins School of Theology a couple of summers ago.
We were talking about using contemporary stories, even fairy tales, for getting into Scripture – God’s Story and Vision. For many people, gaining access to Scripture is a difficult thing because we have a particular understanding, or perhaps, misunderstanding of God. We have a low or negative view of Scripture because of how we perceive God, and so Scripture becomes foreign, even antithetical or our life experiences.
But in reframing an understanding of God through identifying with characters in other stories, films, fairy tales, etc., we come to discover a fresh understanding of God’s nature and how God is expressed through stories such as the Prodigal Son and other parables, or Jesus’ engagement with people in need. And then in the midst of this dialogue, a comment was made that had a tremendous impact upon me for framing how we speak about our stories as the people of God.
In being a people who are growing in our attending to God, in our being open to God, are we the main character in our stories, or is God the main character? We tend to get it reversed. In describing our spiritual experiences, our life stories, we almost always make ourselves the main character of our own stories – but if we begin to have ears and eyes that are open to what God is doing in the world, we begin to realize that it is God, rather than us, who is the main character even in our own stories.
What so radically changes my perspective is coming to realize that even in my own life story, I am not the one who is changing me. God is changing me – especially as I open myself to God. God is active in me to draw myself to him; God is working out God’s purposes in me; God is more interested in me than I am interested in me. God is indeed the main character in the development of my story. In response, God then becomes the main character in the telling of my story, because God has invited me into the Story and Vision that God is unfolding in the world that God is healing, reconciling, restoring, and making new.
In telling our stories in which God is the main character, we come to realize that we are worshiping God and pointing to God who is and always will be gracious to us – earthen vessels, broken and cracked jars, through whom God is making all things new. God is unfolding God’s Story and Vision through the ordinary human lives – now that is a story worth sharing.