All my life, I have loved stories–hearing them, reading them, or watching them play out onscreen or onstage. Having worked in various libraries over the years, and now as an employee of Hamilton East Public Library, I have witnessed over and over again the power of story to speak to people of all backgrounds. Everyone loves a good story. Within all our hearts is a desire to hear about adventures and relationships that culminate in a happy ending, a resolution that will somehow give us assurance that the stories of our own lives are leading to something with meaning and purpose. And the only story that can offer us lasting hope is God’s story as it has been revealed in the Bible.
I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that God didn’t give us a textbook to tell us about himself. He gave us one grand narrative, within which the individual stories of hundreds of faithful (and unfaithful) people have been threaded. Through these stories and the Story as a whole, I pray that we will learn together this year how each of our own stories has been threaded in to God’s glorious scheme.
We all know that a story originates with an author and is propelled to its conclusion by the actions of the main character, in most cases a hero. In The Story, we must remember that God is both author and hero. As the author, we see that he has a plan in mind. As the hero, we see that he alone is able to step in to carry that story to its grand and victorious conclusion. What is humanity’s role in this story? From the account of Creation, we see that we were made for him, made to reflect his image and rule over his creation, made to walk in fellowship with him, enjoying the wonders of his world together.
So what happened to require the author to step in as hero? The same thing that he still steps in for today. Sin. Sin and the brokenness it causes. And truly, for us this is “the beginning of life as we know it.” We have never seen the world in its original perfection. I won’t go into detail on the nature of Adam and Eve’s sin here. Suffice it to say that they didn’t fully trust God and therefore disobeyed him, just as every person after them has done. Truly, it’s amazing how quickly humanity degenerated into thinking “only evil all the time.”
So how do we see God showing up here? Does he step in only to judge and condemn, or does he intend to save what was so quickly lost? Are there any clues that God would be the hero? Indeed there are! As he addresses the serpent, the Enemy, we see the first foreshadowing of our hero, the Messiah: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” One day the Enemy will receive a death-blow! But it looks like there will be sacrifice involved too.
As the chapter goes on, we see that God still looks in favor on those who are faithful to him, such as Abel and later Noah. Rather than withdrawing from his creation, God continues to watch over humanity in search of people who will walk faithfully in relationship with him. Noah’s life of obedience, leading to his family’s rescue from catastrophe and divinely-appointed role as the ancestors of humankind, is a beautiful picture of how God threads our stories into his bigger Story. Yet it is also a reminder that we alone are not the answer to the world’s problems. Even starting over with one faithful family could not change the trajectory of sin in the human race. Only God our hero could do that, as we will see.
What does this part of The Story ask of us? For me, it is a reminder that God is in control; he has a plan and a purpose. And he is also good, for he hasn’t given up on us. He is both just and merciful; and for that reason, he is worthy of our trust. He will not abandon the ones he has made for him. And if he still wants a relationship with me, no matter what I have done, then I can’t help but be drawn to his goodness and grace. As I place my faith in him, I pray that he will draw me up into his larger Story so that my little story will somehow achieve the purpose he intended for it.
Your sister in Christ,