Finding Our Stories in the Story of Grace
Confession: I’m a dork. I’m pushing 40, and I still love young adult fiction. I have an entire bookcase in my house devoted solely to young adult books (which isn’t so weird now that my daughter is also reading them, thankfully). Admittedly, I read them because I enjoy the stories – but I’m also fascinated by what sort of stories grip an entire culture’s imagination.
Over years of reading hundreds of books, I’ve noticed a common thread that weaves its way through the plot-line of almost every single blockbuster: an ordinary person living in their own dreary existence is suddenly or gradually, by fate or by circumstance, awakened to a much grander version of the reality in which they live. Over time, as the character immerses themselves in this new reality (usually as one book turns into a much longer series), the ordinary character has him or herself become extraordinary.
Take the recent example of Harry Potter. We first meet Harry Potter as the weak and despondent little orphan-child living under the staircase in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone…but then Harry discovers that magic exists – and that he’s a wizard! Seven books later, Harry has not only embraced an entirely new “reality” – he plays a crucial role in overcoming the powerful and evil magical forces that threating the entire world.
For those in an older generation, this storyline isn’t new. We find the same basic plot-line in stories of The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia…and the list could go on.
But I want us to consider: what is it about this storyline of the ordinary becoming extraordinary that so captivates our imaginations?
I believe the answer to this question is that these stories hint at the truth of our reality. They correctly tell us that we as humans are a part of a much grander narrative than that of our own lives – that reality is more than meets the eye – that we are meant to be caught up into a reality that is much bigger than just ourselves.
I believe this greater narrative is the story of Grace given to us in the Scriptures.
Grace is for us like magic, the yellow brick road, the Force, the Ring, or the Wardrobe in the stories we love – it changes and shapes everything in our lives as our understanding of what is “really real” grows to incorporate all that God has done, is even now doing, and will one day bring to fullness in Jesus by the Holy Spirit. It’s resurrection life, the beginning of a new creation, God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.
In the dreariness of day-to-day life, it’s important to learn to tell our own stories in such a way that they fit within and resonates with Scripture’s larger story of grace in which we find ourselves. For in doing so, we’ll come to find new meaning and purpose for our life – for we all have been invited into this story. In terms of evangelism, telling our personal stories within the greater Story is an important way we can help others see the beauty and credibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as its narrative is lived out in the flesh. For discipleship, sharing our stories can provide hope and encouragement to others who are bored, struggling, or need inspiration for new ways to see God at work in their life.
Over the next several months we’ll be featuring articles that attempt to do just this. As in any good story, we’ll meet a variety of characters – oddballs, screwups, popular kids, and outcasts – all of whom have endured various hardships and challenges – but who, by God’s grace, have become unlikely heroes because of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the true Hero in every story.
This series is a very personal one to us who have been with Rooted for a while. Our ten-year journey as a ministry is only one that can be understood through hunger for the Gospel and the generosity of God with his beautiful grace. It’s definitely the story of a bunch of oddballs, screw ups, popular kids, and outcasts who came together because of our love for Jesus and the grace he makes available in the Gospel. It’s the story of unlikely travelers embarking on an unknown journey filled with many triumphs and failures – and being blown away at God’s grace every step of the way.
Our prayer is that as you read these stories of grace, you’ll come to see your own story in the light of God’s grace. And that you, too, will be awakened afresh to the magnificence of the greater reality in which you live.
We invite you to join us in Birmingham October 8-10 to celebrate the Story of Grace that is all about our good God. You will hear the stories of that grace moving through ten years of Rooted Ministries, and individual stories of grace from our speakers. Come fellowship with us; we want to hear about His grace in your story too!