Story

Accckkkk.

No exclamation. Just full stop. Period.

I’ve been slogging through my brain, it’s molasses in there. You don’t want to wander around in there. Trust me. Getting lost takes no talent in those nooks and crannies.

There are so many things that I want to pull out of that bit of gray matter. But it’s gotten worse than wandering around in the Doctor’s TARDIS.  I turn a corner and find a childhood memory. Another, and there’s one of my teen memories. Yes, predictable. Just.

onthecounterweb

I know there’s a story in there. Wedged between the recording of Beethoven’s Pastoral and Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild playing on the 8-track cranked up as loud as it can go with all of the windows down on the red VW bus we owned when we first married.

{Loved that bus- well, except for the part about holding it in 4th when up to speed because it always popped out of gear around 60mph}

There’s another tucked in behind the eye-opening experience at the age of 12 when I went to camp in England and saw all that London had to offer at the height of Beatlemania.

{London- you still have that draw for me}

And way back there, I’m toddling along in a backyard or at the zoo or climbing the monkeybars. There’s a story in there somewhere.

monkeybarsweb

Why can’t I pull it out from under the blankets, air it out and put it on paper?

Maybe that’s what the after Christmas letdown really is, or maybe it’s the January snowed in blues.

{not that I’m snowed in where I am}

I’ll be looking for this story til March; it looks like.

Enough about me- what about you?

What’s hidden deep in there, in the back of that attic in your mind just out of reach?

A story?

A song?

A poem?

A prayer?

How do you access it and pull it out of that thin air?

 

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

And then I read a blog post, a connection a friend sent that ties me to the word that He chose for me this year, surrenderDubus writes an idea in a notebook, and then leaves it alone: “I try never to think about where a story will go.” Planning is an act of control, and “I will kill the story by controlling it; I work to surrender.” (emphasis mine) 

And I do. Surrender.

Who Reads the Forward Anyway?

I’ve had this book on my shelf for months now, even took it on a trip or two hoping to find the right moment to start it. Last week, in the middle of the night… you guessed it-

I started the book:  Your God is too Safe: Rediscovering the Wonder of a God You Can’t Control by Mark Buchanan.

I picked it up at the bookstore because a dear friend and co-worker had given me one of his other books: The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath ; she had given it to me for “summer reading”.  I was determined that my husband and I would have a real vacation –away from even the thought of work.  I took that book along, although I didn’t finish it while we were on vacation, I did finish it not long after returning home. I would highly recommend it if you find that you are meeting yourself coming and going and feel like there’s no rest anywhere in the near future.

Ok, back to the book I started the other night. I don’t usually read the forward of a book very often. However, God had something different planned for me with this book. The forward is written by Eugene Peterson. He’s the man responsible for The Message.

I have been captivated by his comments:

“An accurate understanding of the formation of the Christian Life requires three things: stories well told, Scriptures sharply imagined, and language skillfully used. All three are essential.“

 

“When Scripture is depersonalized, we lose access to the very ground beneath our feet.”

 

“Language is the primary means by which life develops and matures…”

 

“Nothing about us is more life generating, life deepening and life enduring than our use of language.”

How profound.

I identify with a story well told. That’s why I read. 

When I read Scripture, I know there are good stories there. Reading it puts my imagination to work and the rich language draws me in on every page.  

I think about Noah’s Ark, Moses in the bullrushes or Job and his friends; Esther and the King; Ruth, Naomi and Boaz; David and Goliath; Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; John the Baptist; the resurrection of Lazarus; Jesus come to earth; Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding because His mother asked; His meeting with the woman at the well; His resurrection; Cornelius and Peter and others.

These are stories well told-all of them- they grab me, hold my attention and ignite my imagination. When I read Scripture, I am there, in those stories.  I learn from their experiences.  I take those stories with me and I take a phrase, a sentence, a verse that I remember and recall when faced with a challenge, a relationship in danger, a child who needs more, a job that holds me captive, a friend that needs a word of comfort.

This is how Dr. Peterson relates the importance of story:

“Only story provides the diction and syntax that reveals the unique particular, the inner identity, and the intricate web of relationships that account for who we are- our life.”

 When I write, when I share my story, when I find that I’ve been able to turn a phrase into something that touches another human being; I find my life is enriched. He gave me my story to give away to others. In doing so He has validated my life.

“Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name! Tell everyone you meet what he has done!” Psalm 105:1(The Message)

 

He has given all of us a story. Maybe it’s time to tell yours?

 

Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation for mentioning these books, nor will I receive anything if you click through to the links above- they are solely for your benefit.  

{The} Story or Particular, Peculiar Words- Part 2

{The} Story, {His} Story, gives substance to our existence.

Because of it, every thought, every communication is connected with and woven through THE WORD. It’s how we all connect. Words. Written. Spoken. Unspoken. Shouted. Whispered. 

Words show life is real, broken, full of emotion, love, hate, sorrow, joy, obedience, disobedience, blessings, curses, judgement, trials, glory, grace, mercy, forgiveness,  repentance and redemption.

In {His} Story, the beginning of the story of us all, we witness: the moment man set his mind and his foot to disobedience; the anger, envy and self-pity that drove Cain to kill his brother; the building of the ark and the rising of the waters until the only souls living were captive on a wooden boat till the water left them high and dry; the impact of the words of Moses on Pharaoh; the manna that fell from Heaven-what in the world?; the parting of the waters of the Red Sea and their rushing return devouring Pharoah’s soldiers; the tears of Hannah in the gut-wrenching heartache of barrenness; the guilt David suddenly faced when Nathan confronts him on the murder of Uriah and the taking of Bathsheba; Jonah’s disobedience and experience in the fish for 3 days, his subsequent obedience, God’s mercy and Jonah’s self-pity;  the stand taken by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the walk in the flames with the fourth man; the moment God set His plan of redemption in the world with the encounter Mary has with Gabriel; the desperation of Peter as he steps out of the boat onto the water and suddenly clings to Jesus in fear and doubt; the moment blind Bartimaeus can see-really see Jesus, Son of David, who did have mercy on him and Jesus’ command to “Go” he instantly disobeys as he follows the one who gave him sight; the joy on Mary Magdalene’s face as she realizes that Jesus is alive and standing in front of her; the sudden blindness and clarity of understanding after the encounter of Saul with Jesus on the road to Damascus; John’s vision as it is revealed to him by the angel in his old age and so much more.

The Words that tell and teach and comfort and warn; that reach out to tell us just how much He loves us; that give us our history to show us there will be messes, there will be despair, there will be defeat. But there will also be joy and dancing in the streets.

Our words tell our part of the story. They tell our moments, our days, every breath, every heartbeat. Our part of the story reveals our love, loss, despair, hope, faith. And, in my particular, peculiar part, the path I walk on this journey of life. 

How do I tell you the words in the right order lest the meaning be changed altogether to something else entirely? How do I tell you when I look at words strung together like a strand of pearls it gives me hope or takes it away? How do I tell you the power of a word and where and how it is used is important? That some words, spoken, even whispered, have so much significance and so much power I hesitate to speak some things aloud? That words written and spoken can be used for evil as well as for good? How do I tell you that I share in the hope that you will see your part in {His} story?

Yet, here am I, still pounding away on the keyboard trying to get you to see what I see.

It is in the concept His Words hold where we understand the incredible completeness of all creation. Because of these words, full of the Glory of God in humanity and the incredible imperfections in the people in His Story, we can identify and come to grips with our own part of the story. Confident, knowing the end of{The} Story,  {His} Story, is yet to come. 

Sometimes, our part is not pretty. Rough drafts rarely are. But oh, the finished story….

A voice says, “Cry out.”And I said, “What shall I cry?” Isaiah 40:6

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? Isaiah 40:21 

Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord—with the first of them and with the last—I am he.” Isaiah 41:4 

I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am you God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:9-10

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare;
before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Isaiah 42: 8-9

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand.  When I act, who can reverse it?” Isaiah 43:10-13 

Go.

Live.

Tell. 

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10b-11