[the story of God, the story of us] chapter 4: community (part 1)

Written by Jennifer Dukes Lee

I’m an Iowa farmer's wife and mama of two girls. You can find me writing about faith and family at Getting Down with Jesus and on Twitter at @dukeslee. I teach journalism at Dordt College and serve as Contributing Editor for High Calling Blogs.

December 15, 2010

I once wrote these words on a slip of paper and tucked them in my Bible: “Keep reading. It’s not the end of the book.”

I guess I needed a reminder that despite my sufferings, the story wasn’t over. I needed to offer myself a pep-talk, a reminder that God can be trusted, and that there really is a Happily-Ever-After.

Because it’s true. This is not the end of the Book.

Maybe that’s why I swallowed hard when I read chapter four in “The Story of God, The Story of Us.” I know what it means to doubt, mid-story.

Pull up a chair around the campfire, will you?

The old storyteller has returned to the warm glow of flames on logs. But the old man’s story can feel cold and bitter in our ears. We hear of a heart-hardened pharaoh, plagues and the blood of a Passover lamb. The old man by the fire recalls the story of the Lord striking down the firstborn in Egypt, except for the Israelites who put blood on the doorposts as a signal for the Lord to “pass over” their homes.

If it sounds horrific, that’s because it is. But it’s also a part of our collective story as the people of God.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there, does it?

For you and I, hindsight offers near-perfect vision. We know what happens next, because we live on this side of the Cross. The folks around that campfire had never heard the name Jesus of Nazareth.

Pull in closer to the fire, and listen to the prophetic words of the old storyteller: “… All of creation is in exile – east of Eden. … We need a new exodus from sin. An exodus that not only frees the oppressed from being oppressed, but that also frees the oppressors from being oppressors.”

A child pierces the silence with the question: “How many lambs will that take?”

The old storyteller responds: “I do not know, son. I do not know.”

And I want to jump into the pages, and stand up by the campfire and tell them the rest of the story.

I want to tell them how many lambs it will take. Just one.

I want to let them know that there really is an answer to our sin problem — and His name is Jesus Christ. And he’s coming for them. He really is.

But the people around the campfire are somewhere between Eden and a cross. And I’m here, in 2010, somewhere between a cross and a Second Coming.

They are still mid-story.

And I guess, I am, too.

Even here – with the security of a cross and an empty tomb and a promise that He will come again – I still need to know that the story isn’t over. I still need a handwritten reminder in my Bible that says: “Keep reading. It’s not the end of the Book.”



    • @bibledude

      I love @dukeslee’s passion for sharing the Love (and Story) of a Savior…

      • Jennifer@GDWJ

        Thanks Simply Country Girl and BibleDude.

        And DUDE! You rock. Thanks for hosting this group-writing project. I’m learning so much about our collective story as a people of God.

  1. Lyla Lindquist

    I looked at the schedule earlier and somehow it didn’t register that you had the chapter on my favorite book… You got Exodus right, my friend.

    How many lambs will that take? There haven’t been enough lambs born yet to cover my sin. Except that One…

    Hoping the guys paid attention and this book finds its way to my cut-out tree. I look forward to coming back and catching up.

    Thanks for this. I need that Lamb today, and the rest of the story.

    • @bibledude

      The tension of that question, “How many lambs will that take?”, is so powerful from our side of the cross. It’s amazing to consider what that question would have been like to those living in Old Testament times.

      I really hope this book makes it under the tree for you! I look forward to hearing more of what you think about it… And we don’t start the New Testament stuff until after New Year’s…

    • Jennifer @ GDWJ

      I sort of felt like I was running on ahead of the story, but I couldn’t help it. I can’t help but see everything through the lens of the cross and the only sufficient Lamb. They didn’t have that luxury. How I take that for granted ….

      Thanks for stopping by Lyla.

  2. Crystal

    When I read the Old Testament I often have to remind myself that it’s not the end of the story. Even today I have questions similar to the young girl and boy in the story – how long will it take for God to save us? I can’t imagine what it would have been like to live between Eden and the cross and not know when the redemption would happen.

    And I can’t help but think about the similarities to my own life now – how often do we wonder when things will get better? When will God save us from our trials? I too need to be reminded that I am still mid-story…

    • @bibledude

      I was just talking with some guys last night about ‘lamenting’ and crying out to God… “how much longer?!” The interesting thing is that the ‘lament’ is something that God does too, and we do it because we’re made in His image. When we cry out like that, not only are we being like our Creator, but we are coming closer to His heart for the world… a heart that breaks for all of the injustice that happens because of the poor choices of humanity…

      But I’ll need to take that conversation onto another post where I can do it more justice. Suffice it to say that, yes, we are mid-story… and our hearts are beating in unison with our Creator.

      That’s powerful dude.

    • Jennifer @ GDWJ

      Agreed, Crystal.

      I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. I’ve been taking this one chapter at a time, following along with all the contributors here. I appreciated your thoughts the other day, too.

  3. Laura Boggess

    This is so powerful, Jennifer. Thanks for inviting me around the fire. I love a happy ending.

    • Jennifer @ GDWJ

      Thanks for dropping by, Laura. 🙂

    • @bibledude

      I love that @dukeslee can’t sit around this campfire without the urge to drag everyone to the foot of the cross! Powerful is right though…

      Thanks for popping in again Laura!

  4. Lschontos

    I love your heart Jennifer. I need to know that too. There are seasons when I wonder how it can possibly end “happily ever after” but the truth is it does. I am learning to trust, to understand that my circumstances do not have to dictate the story-line. He is the writer of my story – of our story – and we simply need, as you’ve said, to keep reading.
    Thank you Jennifer.

    • @bibledude

      “I am learning to trust, to understand that my circumstances do not have to dictate the story-line.”

      We all need to remember this. I’m glad to hear that we’re all in this story together! Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Sean Gladding

    Thanks for your reflection Jennifer – I am following the conversation, but also trying to move house this weekend, so I’m only able to stop in from time to time I’m afraid. The line you quote from the little boy is one of my favourite moments in the Story. When I was rewriting this chapter for publication his character was beginning to unfold in my mind by this point, and when the elder cast the vision for the return from exile for all of creation, I could see his little face wrinkle with thought lines, and then utter the question that perhaps many others in the crowd were also thinking. And in it lie the echoes of the question I’ve asked many times over the years, “How are you going to forgive me this time?”

    • @bibledude

      it’s always awesome when the author of the book jumps into these conversations! i really appreciate the perspectives that you are challenging us all with through your writing and sharing of ‘The Story’, and little thoughts like this definitely help people like me get into your head a little more with it.

      that’s powerful dude… thank you.

    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Hi Sean … It’s so good to see you here in the comment box. Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this project.

      It’s been cool to watch that little boy grow as the chapters move along. … You know, I ask that lamb question often — at least in my own way. And yes, it’s what you say here in the comments: “How are you going to forgive me this time?” And surely, he does forgive us. So why is grace so hard to accept sometimes?

      And Sean? Congratulations on your book being among the Relevant Best Books for 2010.



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[the story of God, the story of us] chapter 4: community (part 1)

by Jennifer Dukes Lee time to read: 3 min