January 4, 2011
The God of Story
Ariel Allison Lawhon
She Reads Co-Director & Featured Author
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
Revelation 22:13 (NIV)
I think of Him first as a storyteller, this Jesus of mine. That might sound odd to some. He is after all Savior and Redeemer. Lion and Lamb. But I would not know Him as any of those had He not spoken to me first in the gentle whisper of story.
Given half a chance, I would sit at His feet and listen even now. I'd follow Him through those dusty streets. Stop and ponder in that crowded marketplace. Or lounge on a grass-filled hillside. Prodigal sons and lost coins, rich fools and fig trees, talents and tares - I would cross my legs and sink to the ground, chin on hands, to hear His stories.
So kind of Him to write them down so I can read them at my leisure.
As a writer I am intrigued by the parables of Jesus. Those thirty short anecdotes sprinkled through the first four books of the New Testament are the subject of countless sermons. Yet they are so personal to each of us. In many ways, they are our stories. The rich young ruler walked away from Jesus. At times we've turned our back to Him as well. The older brother stayed outside instead of joining the celebration thrown in honor of his prodigal sibling's return. He symbolizes our self-righteousness.
And that's the power of story, isn't it? To see ourselves in the narrative. To squirm and wrestle. To clap and celebrate. Jesus never says, "Oh, by the way, that bit about the prodigal son is really about you and God. Wanted to make sure you caught that. Instead, He lets us see our reflection in the story. He leaves us to wrestle over which part we play.
The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery explains why the stories of Jesus are so personal and profound:
"Only one of the characters (Lazarus) is named, yet as we encounter the characters of the parables we sense that we have known them already. They are universal types, possessing the traits that we and our acquaintances possess. Never has such immortality been thrust upon anonymity. We do not need to know the name of the woman who first loses and then finds her lost coin: she is every person. The family dynamics of the parables of the prodigal son and the two brothers whose father asks them to work in the vineyards could be observed at any family's breakfast table… We come to realize that it is in the everyday world of sowing and eating and dealing with family members that people make the great spiritual decisions and that God's grace works." (emphasis mine)
God's grace works. That is shown through the power of story and that is why He told them. In His simple tales we see grace and holiness in the everyday tasks of life: planting and harvesting, a wedding invitation, baking bread, lighting a lamp, traveling to a distant town. The parables teach us to trust that all those made in the image of God understand the unspoken language of story. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and every time we open His Book He says, "Come, let me tell you a story."
Dear Lord, You are the beginning and the end of this great narrative called history. Thank You for writing me into the story. Though I play only a small part, may I play it well. May I honor You with my days and my choices and may I truly know that Your grace works. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Ariel's latest novel, eye of the god, is a story of obsession, greed, hope and grace. Visit our She Reads blog this week to download your free electronic copy of the entire novel! Also, post a comment on the She Reads blog to enter into our drawing for a free copy of Ariel's book.
Make a list of books that have taught you about the grace of God. Consider giving one as a gift.
Do I consider myself an important part of the story God is writing?
In which of Jesus' parables do I most see myself?
Do any of Jesus' stories leave me restless or uncomfortable? Why?
In looking at my life as a story, can I see the grace of God at work?
Psalm 107:2-3, "Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south." (NIV)
© 2011 by Ariel Allison Lawhon. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105