A few weeks ago I found one of my old moleskine journals hiding in my backpack. I began paging through it, and midway through stumbled on this little nugget. I felt like it was what I needed to be reminded of in the moment, so I’m going to share it.
Revelation on “Story”
We always want to be the main characters of our stories/lives. In fact the wording “our stories” implies that idea. We control our stories, we narrate them, and we are the focus of all the events taking place.
In my life, that idea causes me to thrill seek. Because the best parts of stories are the climaxes right? Stories need characters to change. They need action, adventure, love, romance, tragedy, and comedy. Stories need conflict and momentum. And as we passively watch stories play out in books, movies, or theater, we are rooting for the hero. If all the other characters die or fade from the story we can bare it if the hero survives and “wins” out in the end. No matter the surrounding devastation.
But I think there’s something faulty in this embedded understanding of us as the heros of our stories. I think there might be just a twinge of deception. A slight side step off the path. But because the path is narrow even a slight side step, be it an honest mistake, be it a valid point, be it even admirable, is still off the path. And if we aren’t on the narrow path, what then? Well then we aren’t headed toward life.
What am I suggesting? Simply, that we aren’t actually the heros of our stories. But there’s a broader point here. One that the Lord pointed out to me when I was considering my family.
I come from a big family. I have seven siblings, and a large extended family. And recently I noticed that we each have our own “thing.” We have our own lives, but more specifically we have our own passions. And our passions are significant. Let me give some examples.
My parents are passionate about orphans and adoption. They’ve personally adopted three children (seen below), and they lead a ministry called Team 127, based on James 1:27. Everywhere they look they see the needs of orphaned children across the world. And it seems that everything they hear reiterates God’s heart for these “forgotten little ones,” that God has by no means forgotten.
My Aunt Rhonda and Uncle Don are missionaries to European nations. They’re some of my favorite people to talk to as we carry very similar hearts for prayer and reaching the nations.
My older sister, Linsey, is one of my heros. I’ve always wanted to be like her and I still do. She’s one of the best moms I’ve ever met. Her methods of discipleship are practical. And she and her husband carry strong hearts for hospitality and simple obedience.
My brother, Kurtis, is a true servant leader. He’s 21-years-old, but is one of the men I most respect in my life. He’s has a heart overflowing in generosity, and he leads men both older and younger, because he walks his talk.
My uncle George (seen below) is a visionary, and runs a ministry at his church called “Love Works,” which reaches out to the local community in practical ways. He recently won a prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. award for his dedication to humanitarian service.
My cousin David is currently preparing to leave and be a part of a crisis intervention organization, because his heart is broken for the increase of terror happening in the Middle East. And my cousin Katie is passionate about supporting families who are dealing with chronic illness.
I could continue to talk about many other family members like my Aunt Bonnie, who’s always supported me in my endeavors, whether it was coming to a softball game when I was 9, or financially supporting all my trips overseas since I was 15.
This list is not even half my family, nor have I fully expounded upon all the ways they are truly the hands and feet of Jesus. I love the things they are doing. I’m so proud of them, and I want to share in what they’re passionate about. But can I? I mean how can I play a key role in each one of their stories and passions and maintain my own?
So here’s my larger point. It’s may be obvious, but it’s so crucial that I just need to say it, so that my own heart hears it. There’s truly something bigger than my little life going on. A universal story is being played out. It spans all of time, and there is one hero, forever, and it’s Jesus. He gets the pedestal and he gets the throne. Because he’s the only one worthy of that title. The only guy who had everything, who legitly had the hero title, “but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…and humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).
And it’s a beautiful love story, because maybe surrendering the throne or hero title in your own life sounds ridiculous or hard (and infact it is); but Jesus is a hopeless romantic, and when we surrender our lives to him he invites us to be his valiant lover fighting at his side. So in other words I give up my own personal storyline, as the main character, to become a key role in a universal story that will last throughout eternity. This revelation makes everything I do a thousand times more significant.
Plus, my life suddenly becomes intertwined with those around me. My family’s passions are no longer individualized and separate from my own. Their lives are a part of my story, because my real story is God’s story. They each play key roles, that are absolutely needed in this grand narrative. And this gives me a restful spirit, because I don’t have the conquer the world on my own. I don’t have to prove myself through mountaintop experiences. And when my adventurous life quiets for a moment I don’t have to rush off to a foreign country, because in the steadiness of life I can better invest in the lives of those around me.
So maybe I’m not currently experiencing a “climax,” but in a month two of my best friends are getting married and I get to be a part of it. I get to share in the joy of two amazing people choosing to lay down their individual lives for a lifelong journey together. I’m not currently experiencing the joys (and terrors :)) of motherhood, but I get to be an aunt to my favorite kids in the world.
It’s interesting that the basics of Christianity are lay down your life, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. Yet so often I find myself and many others in a state of restlessness over finding or living our “callings.” My calling each day is very simple, lay down my own selfish ambition and do what Jesus does. Ah yes, that is the narrow path.