The stories we tell

I am a lover of stories.

I love to hear them, to read them, to watch them, write them, distill them from someone’s life, and daydream them. And I fell in love with stories a long time ago, though I’m unsure if it was the made-up, quirky tales my dad told us at bedtime, the books my mom read to us, the Bible stories both parents told us and we heard at church, or the books and movies I watched as a child that did the trick. I love stories. I love the way they teach and stand the test of time.

Actually, I have a theory about story. I think we all long for them. Have you ever watched a room full of children hang on every word of a tale a teacher is reading aloud? Have you ever found that expression on your own face when listening to a friend tell a story or as the screen fades to black and the closing credits begin to roll? I think there’s something very human in us that craves a story. A story that we star in or are least a vital part of. A story that leads us to new understanding and truth. A story that changes us.

A week or so ago, I bought Donald Miller’s newest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I’ve read Donald before and love his writing style. I’ve only read about a third of the book, but I find it interesting that one of his big points in this book has to do with story, namely that we’re writing a story with our lives and the question that haunts everyone of us, “Am I living a good story?”

Last night, I picked up the book and read a few pages, intending to put it down after the commercial break was over. But I couldn’t. Because I ran across this:

I believe there is a writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness.
—Donald Miller A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, p. 86

He then goes on to talk about how that writer is the Writer—God—and how when he began to recognize God’s voice in his life and do what it says, it changed him. He calls it the real Voice, “the voice that is stiller and smaller and seems to know without confusion, the difference between right and wrong and the subtle delineation between the beautiful and the profane.” It’s that voice that wells up inside of us as believers, calling us to forgive, to hold our tongues, to help that person in need. And I understood where Miller was coming from. Because I’ve felt that peaceful, calming Voice in my own life. Just this week even, when I was worrying and pondering something and the most peaceful wave of certainty came over me and I just knew I was going to be alright and all was well. And it happened again later when I was driving my car and thinking about a tough situation someone was going through and felt the push to do something about it.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer of sorts myself—not a novelist or author, per se, but someone who processes best through writing—that I love this concept of God as the Writer who knows the better story he wants to write for each of us and feels it deeply when we choose to go our own way and write our own story because we think we know better, that we’re right, or that His way is too hard or not good enough or just seems weird. We have to trust Him to write that better story, and sometimes, it’s hard to do that.

God loves story. Ever read the Bible? Full of stories. Jesus told them to teach. They’re the primary players in the Old Testament. And God writes a good story. Who else would have written the story of Jesus? Who else would have known the importance of placing His crucifixion during the Passover celebration? Who else knew that this terrible and beautiful story played out at that time and place would be the story that spoke Truth to the Jews and Gentiles? Why is the story of redemption so captivating that we all yearn for it? Because God wrote the story and then He wrote it on our hearts.

It bothers some of my more linear friends that I don’t read books from start to finish. I like to start a book, read for awhile, look ahead and read a little there and come back to where I left off and start up again. I can’t explain it; it’s just what I do. And last night, I read the last page of Miller’s book and started crying. Because on that page, he describes what it will be like when He gets to heaven and talk about the story he’s living now with God. “I’ll tell this to God, I think, and He’ll remind me of the parts I forgot, the parts that were His favorites. We’ll sit and remember my story together. . .  And my soul won’t be thirsty anymore.”

Oh, that is God. The One who remembers the parts of the story He’s written in our lives that even we forget. The One who cherishes every moment. The One who will wipe away every tear we’ve ever cried. The One who knows our Names and deepest fears and failures and still loves us. The One who cherishes us. Cherishes you.

Oh that we would let Him write our stories!

2 thoughts on “The stories we tell”

  1. I do the same thing with books…constantly skipping around. I usually know what happens way before I actually manage to read the entire thing through. However, now that I have a Kindle, that’s not as easy :/

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