The story of God, the story of us. What a simple thought! What a profound concept. The first chapter of this book is entitled ‘Creation’ and it is presented from the viewpoint of an elder of Israel during the Babylonian captivity as he hears and witnesses the heart’s cries of his people as they lament the fact that it seems that God has forgotten His people and left them to the whims of their captors. Sensing a moment that might give him the tender spot in the hearts and minds of the people, the elder begins sharing the story of the people from the context of their place in the story of God.
I was in one of my favorite hang outs having some coffee with some scrambled eggs and a waffle doing some Bible reading and journaling when I began to hear the not so covert conversations of some men seated at a table just a couple down from mine. They made no effort to hide what they were talking about and as they discussed the condition of the government, the economy, how it seemed that everyone was angry and had little or no respect for themselves, or anyone else for that matter, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that conversation as I read the opening chapter of this particular book. We are living in a time when it seems that culture has forgotten its place in the story of God. Everyone seems to be asking the question ‘what’s the point? What’s the meaning of it all? And how do we fix it?” We cry out for justice, we cry out for relief, we cry out for answers to our questions.
Like the Israelites of long ago, we have forgotten that we are God’s people created by Him in His image. We are part of a story that does not begin with our birth, nor does it begin with the problems of a modern age. Like the Israelites we realize that we are far from where we were intended to be but just can’t seem to figure out why.
The story is a simple one. It is a story of a good and lovingly kind Heavenly Father taking great pains to create a home for what would become the focal point of His affection and fellowship. As God creates the universe He gives it the purpose to contain a small blue-green planet called Earth which will contain small and seemingly insignificant things called humans. God then pours into human beings all the dignity and significance that a relationship with Him provides. This dignity and significance is described by a word: ‘shalom’, a word that means complete, safe, healthy, content, peaceful in human relationships and at peace with God, especially in covenant relationship. But we have forgotten the story.
Because we have forgotten the story, and like so many others who have endured heart ache, confusion, disappointment and frustration we all agree with the musician who cried out: “but I want to know what He is doing now!” Oh! How often have we all made that very same cry? How often have we looked at ourselves in life’s mirror and said to our self “it just isn’t fair.”
As one who has sojourned through a few spiritual deserts, gotten bogged down in the swamps of emotional selfishness, and lost in forests of unmet goals and unrealistic expectations on myself and others I can identify with the Israelites in their moments of anguish and anger, and just like them, God has to remind me of my place in His story and of the simple and unrelenting Truth that His story is my history (and my future).
That same line from Chapter One sticks with me, too: “But I want to know what He is doing now!”
I get pretty caught up in my present-day moments. It blurs my vision of God’s faithfulness in the past. And it blurs my trust that He’ll be there again in the future. But He always was … always is … always will be.
I look forward to taking a journey through this book with you! Thank you for your thoughtful commentary.
Great thought. Patience is one of those things that I don’t practice very well at all and it’s the ‘what is God doing right now?’ question that comes up when I find myself lacking in this particular area. I forget how much He has done in the past, where He has taken me, what He has shown me and everything that He has taught me about the greatness of His thoughts and ways over mine.
I believe it was CS Lewis who refered to people as children who would rather eat mudpies in an alleyway rather than enter into the house to eat the lavish meal being prepared there because we are in too much of a rush to be fulfilled in the moment than be fulfilled for an evenning.
oh @dukesless, you make me think about @annkroeker and ‘not so fast’ with all your ‘get caught up’ talk! We definitely need to slow down and just recognize how awesome He is! Why do we try to understand Him in our (limited) minds and terms?
This reflection seems especially appropriate during this Advent season. Like Israel, we are so easily held captive and long for Emmanuel to come.
And because my life is a musical: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev85WChdGh4
This really is an amazing perspective to reflect on during this Advent season! The longing for Emmanuel is something that seems to be deeply rooted in all of us, and it’s great to be reminded how He’s always been there…
What a wonderful reflection, thank you! After I read this chapter to my husband out loud, we talked about what it might have been like to hear the story for the first time so many years ago. How easy it is for us to get caught up in the monotony of our daily lives and forget that God’s story is so much bigger than we could ever imagine – and that we are just a piece of it! God IS alive and active now, but we might not realize it until we can look back on that piece of the story.
I especially identified with the part of the book where the elder told the story of the Sabbath. How we can get so caught up in having to get our stuff done that we don’t realize that when we stop and rest we are really demonstrating trust and faith in God. Who are we that we think the world can’t go on without us doing just a little bit more? During this Advent season, which can be crazy busy and full of tasks to be completed, it was a nice reminder to “chill – God’s got this!”
Crystal, I’m glad to hear you’re reading the Story aloud with your husband! Is that experience different from simply reading it? And if so, how?
Are there any other participants reading the Story aloud as well?
It definitely was a different experience reading it out loud. I began the chapter by reading it to myself, and although it was a great story – it just felt like something was missing … so I pulled him in to the story with me! The moment we began to read it out loud, it became “our story” rather than just a story we were reading about. I didn’t have to imagine myself there – the story began to take hold of my own space and time.
that’s been our experience from reading the Story aloud with others for close to a decade. i hope you are able to continue to read it aloud together – even as the chapters get longer!
I’m with Sean on this one… I think that it’s really cool that you’re reading this aloud, and I really love how it changes the dynamic of the story for you!
There seems to be something about the human voice that allows us to connect in a way that doesn’t translate well into other media such as texting, emails, etc. I have been watching the NBC show “The Sing Off” and to hear the songs without music, only relying on the power of voice seems to drive it deeper into my awareness and causes me to pay attention a little closer. Maybe that’s what we experience when we share “the story” out loud……
Thanks for your perspective on the Sabbath. It is so easy to think that we have to be active and in control of all things at all times and that is usually where we lose our sense of peace and the sense that God really is in control. When we are so focused on how we can keep a grip on everything, it becomes like looking at the entire world through a microscope and our vision and thinking becomes small and very out of focus. We need those moments of quiet reflection to focus back upon God and His character and nature and remember His goodness and sovereignty.
We have forgotten, but praise God for providing the indwelling Spirit to help us hear what is sometimes easy to miss in familiar words! I just loved that!
I’m so excited to experience our story in this way with you!
Absolutely true. I had several things I wanted to say about the Holy Spirit and several things that the New Testament has to say about what He brings to us when He indwells us…but, sadly, now ’tis not the time…that comes later in “the story”.
It really is amazing… I’m with you on this one Victoria! I don’t want to miss another moment!
I was struck by all the things God did–spoke (several times), created, looked, saw, blessed, rested. An active God.
And a God of order. In the midst of what seems like overwhelming chaos, He is still at work, in control, no matter how much we struggle to grab the reins. We can rest, and know.
“In the midst of what seems like overwhelming chaos, He is still at work, in control, no matter how much we struggle to grab the reins. We can rest, and know.”
… I love this!!!
Such a great peace that can be had in the Hands of our Maker!
We have relationship with an infinitely creative and constructive God. It never ceases to amaze me at how active He really is, even in a life that is one of several billion through out history….