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Stranger Than Fiction - Blog

Story is the stuff of life. All of it.

Have you ever watched the film Stranger Than FictionThe lead character Harold Crick is played by the brilliant comedian Will Farrell. Harold is a letter-of-the-law IRS auditor who dutifully (but not joyfully) does his dreaded job. He clocks in each day knowing that no one likes him or his tactics and everyone tolerates (at best) his lack of “bedside manner.”

Harold’s in a job that’s gradually draining him of his humanity.

How’s death for an ending?

But Harold’s life changes for the “better”, at least in the long run, when he discovers that he’s actually a character in a story. In the short run, all he learns from his life’s narrator is that his story will end with his death, a violent one. His narrator is dreaming of ways to kill Harold off. Needless to say, Harold’s not too excited about his story’s proposed ending.

And the story in which he finds himself is written in real-time. Harold is privy to the narration of his life as his life happens. As he goes about his day, he hears the narrator’s voice saying this and that about him ad nauseum.

But Harold begins to see his life through completely different eyes. Suddenly, the unfolding story of his life terrifies him, and his knowledge of how his story is being written radically changes the life choices he makes.

Harold learns the hard way: Story is the hard-core stuff of life.

In 1968, film critic Barbara Hardy wrote, “We dream in narrative, day-dream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticize, construct, gossip, learn, hate and love by narrative.”

If Barbara Hardy is right (and I’m absolutely convinced she is), I believe story dominates our every waking and sleeping moment because our God is the God of Story. Story isn’t something God “invented” when he invented the universe and placed a little tiny planet called “Earth” in it. Story did not begin when God made man and began relating to him within the created order.

Cover Photo Sun Earth

Even before the creation of all things, the Story of the eternally shared love of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was the very stuff of life. It was the wonderful, glorious, all-satisfying whole of life. Absolutely all of it. The three Persons of the one Godhead were the Story, and an epic Tale it was (and is!). The eternal Story of the Triune God was the Story out of which all other stories were birthed.

The Brilliant Professor Tolkien

In a letter J. R. R. Tolkien wrote to his son Michael in 1941, he waxes eloquent on the eternality of story (and remember, story is eternal only because it finds its origin in the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Professor Tolkien writes:

“Let us both take heart of hope and faith. The link between father and son is not only of the perishable flesh: it must have something of aeternitas [def. eternity; infinity; immortality; foreverness] about it. There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet…” (from The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien; 9 June 1941, 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford – emphasis mine, except for the italicization of aeternitas).

Story is the stuff of life. We both know it is and so desperately want it to be. The happily-every-after is what we all long for. Tolkien knew that stories in this life are always incomplete but are not destined to stay that way. The stories we write and which we live within during our “threescore years and ten” (as the KJV so eloquently puts it) are never really finished.

Do you know why we really long for everything sad to come untrue in our small little stories and in the bigger Story of life? Because the happy Story of the Trinity is the stuff of existence. It’s before, beneath, behind, and above the story of human history. The eternal Story of the love shared between God the Father, Son, and Spirit is the way things are and forever ought to be. It’s why we have the realistic hope (that often seems more like a crazy hope than a sure one) that one day everything sad will come untrue.

The Most Beautiful Story Ever (Being) Written

If you are a believer, you can be absolutely sure that God has written you into the most beautiful Story ever told. God’s Story is the only story big enough to make sense out of our little stories in which the good is unfinished, no matter how mundane or insignificant they seem.

The Story God is writing is the Story in which stories presently unwritten are continued, forever.

The good news of this Story is that God the Son has entered our messed up stories of fear, doubt, and estrangement to graciously rewrite and transform them into the love Story of all love stories.

God is writing an epic Tale in which He reconciles, restores, and renews all things. It’s the love Story of Jesus and his Father that’s been opened up to include us; and God longs for us to learn how to live intentionally within it.

Will you join us October 4-5 at Southern Seminary in Louisville as we journey into this Story of all stories, into the Story that changes everything for us and the fatherless? You’ll leave deeply encouraged, refreshed, and empowered.

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