The room was dark. The sun sleeping. The moon hung, a shadow of the previous day. Stars tucked beneath the black blanket of night. Houses twinkled in the town below, lights going out one by one, children tucked beneath blankets fashions of a mother’s love.
One lone star peaks its head out from behind the blanket of clouds, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Below, a little boy does the same. Dad no sooner tucked him in and descended the old creaking stairs, then a voice calls after him.
“Dad! Can I have a drink?”
The father smiles, hiding the days weariness behind wrinkles. “Sure.” He says, as much to himself as the boy upstairs. Rain drips from the kitchen faucet and climbs up the stairs, searching for the clouds.
The boy sits up, smiles at dad, and drinks. “Thanks.” He says.
Dad smiles and tucks him in again, a lone star laughing at the exchange.
The bedroom door swings in the breeze of father’s goodnight kiss, shuts the little boy in place. The stairs chant their comfort once again. Then dad, almost ready to settle in himself, hears a noise not unfamiliar.
“Dad. Can I have a story?”
He climbs up the stairs again, feeling the creeks in his knees as much as the wood beneath his feet. The moon hangs low, whispering a tale through window slats. Dad picks up its tune, twisting the moonlight into a story of of little boy astronauts eating cheese with the man in the moon, gouging out craters with their hands.
“Okay, son. Now, its time for bed.” Dad kisses him, tucking the sheets in tight.
“But, can’t I have another story?” He points enthusiastically, “See, the moon is still up. He wants to play!”
The father, knowing his son’s ways replies. “There will be times to play in the morning. No more excuses now. It’s time for bed.” He gets up and starts to close the door.
Dad, tiredness adding to impatience, doesn’t let the boy finish. “It’s time to sleep, now. If I have to comes up again, you’re going to be punished.” Without another word, Dad closes the door. The stairs sing their songs again. Just as the final stair breathes its note into the hallway…
“Dad. When you come up to punish me, can you bring some water?”
It’s not only kids that like stories. Stories hydrate our souls like water hydrates the body. We are intrigued by and attracted to stories.
Have you ever read a book you couldn’t put down? What is it that made the book so good? Why do we read our favourite books over and over again? Because they understand us. They say something to us and about us that no one else can. We feel so deeply for the characters depicted on in ink that we become part of them, and they part of us. When reading, we don’t fall in love with the words on the page but the characters behind the story. We fall in love with their words, their thoughts, their hearts, and slowly become part of their story.
Why is the Bible one of the best sold books to date? Why do people keep reading it, cherish it? Is it the words, the concepts, the theology, or is it the characters that become part of our lives.
The Story is not a replacement for the Bible. It is a resource to help up learn how our story weaves into the great story of God. Is it to help us learn more about the characters in the Bible. To help us fall in love not with the words, but the characters. As we learn more about The Story of God, may we get sucked in by the words, thoughts, and emotions of the protagonist, the hero: Jesus.
God’s Word is powerful. It is a story written by him, about him, and for us. 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right.” Not just our favourite parts are useful. Not just the bits that match what we believe. The story as a whole, is useful for us.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 – “it really is God’s message which works in you who believe.” The Story of God is a message to us, not just a nice piece of fiction to sit on the shelf. It may be about people in history, but is instruction for us today. It can change our lives if we let it. It lets us know what God is up to.
Mark Twain: “Every morning when I wake up, I read the Bible and the newspaper. I like to see what both sides are up to.”
God’s story intersects our story on a daily basis. Luke 24 is a great example of what it’s like when the story comes together. It shows us that God is not only interested in telling us a story, but also hearing our story. He’s most interested in the intersection of his story with ours, with how he can effect and infect us.
Your Story Matters to God
Jesus followers all had a story. They were sad. They thought that Jesus was the one who had come to free them, the great hero to bring about a plot twist, but he was defeated. He died, and in their time of sadness, Jesus wants to hear their story.
“What are you talking about?” Before he tells them his story, he asks about their story. Most people don’t care much about God’s story until they realize how much he cares about their story. As the famous saying goes, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
Why would we care about God if he doesn’t care about us? If He’s just there to tell us what to do or not do, is more concerned about how we act than who we are, then why should we care?
This is not the character behind The Story. Jesus wants to know about you before he tells you about him. He wants to know what makes you happy, sad, lonely, afraid, angry, frustrated. He wants to know the character behind your story. He wants to know you.
READ vs. 19-24
They said, “About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet who said and did many powerful things before God and all the people. 20 Our leaders and the leading priests handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him.21 But we were hoping that he would free Israel. Besides this, it is now the third day since this happened. 22 And today some women among us amazed us. Early this morning they went to the tomb, 23 but they did not find his body there. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said that Jesus was alive! 24 So some of our group went to the tomb, too. They found it just as the women said, but they did not see Jesus.”
“We believed in the Hero, and the hero died!” Jesus listens to their story—listens to their hearts and emotions. He hears their sadness. Hopelessness. Desperation. They are searching for a hero to save them, and the character they thought was the hero is now dead. The disciples are searching for something… someone to save them.
Is it different today? How often do we run into people who are searching for something or someone to save them. It is no coincidence that we fall in love with the stories of the knight who saves the princess, the hero that wins that last battle against the bad guy. It’s like we’re living at the intersection of our story and a blank road sign, waiting for the proper name to be written there… waiting for Jesus. But we feel that God is gone, dead, doesn’t care, or never really existed!
God knows, cares, and listens. He doesn’t want to just throw the book at us. He listens to our pain. Our story matters to him. After He listens, he fills in the other road sign. He tells us about himself and how he is not only there to listen, but to respond.
God’s Story is All About Jesus
25 Then Jesus said to them, “You are foolish and slow to believe everything the prophets said. 26 They said that the Christ must suffer these things before he enters his glory.” 27 Then starting with what Moses and all the prophets had said about him, Jesus began to explain everything that had been written about himself in the Scriptures.
Jesus tells his story. He goes back to the very beginning and shows them that God’s Story isn’t over. He inserts himself as a character in their story. He teaches them how his story intersects their story. He’s showing that at the beginning of the Story, He was there… and he never stopped being there. They can count on him today just as much as Moses and the prophets did. God hasn’t changed, and he continues to weave himself into our story. He continues to teach us more about Himself as the hidden character on every page of our lives.
God’s story is seamless. From beginning to end, he is there. The Bible was written in three languages, across three continents. It took over 1,500 years to be written. (That’s sixty generations!) It had forty different authors, most of whom didn’t live in the same place or time period. And yet, the same theme runs throughout. And the theme is this: it is God’s desire to redeem mankind despite our failures.
That is the character of Jesus, the protagonist, the hero. He desperately loves us and wants our love in return. He wants us to be reconciled to Him.
You can summaries the whole Bible this way: the Old Testament says, “Jesus is coming.” the Gospels say, “Jesus is here.” And the rest of the New Testament says, “Jesus is coming again.”
Jesus explains this to the disciples troubled on the road. He says, “since the beginning of time I have been weaving my story in with yours, and I will until the end of time. I never left you. The story isn’t over. The hero is not dead, but is right here with you, as I have always been.”
Without Jesus, our story never really feels compete. Just like the disciples on the road, we are looking for something… someone to fill in the holes in our story. We will always be looking for something. Regardless of money we make, how many friends we have, the amount of possessions we have, and how big our house is. Life is meaningless and incomplete without a relationship with God
I was talking with a young man the other week who was dealing with troubling emotions. He said, “life would be so much easier if we didn’t have emotions. Then I wouldn’t have to care so much, and wouldn’t get hurt.”
So, I asked him, “What would be easier?”
“Life,” he said.
“But,” I continued, “What would life be? Just a series of money-making tasks until we die?”
He didn’t know how to answer.
Life without emotions is meaningless, and life without God is empty. It is at the intersection of our story with other peoples stories where life finds meaning, and at the intersection of our story with God’s story where life finds fullness. Jesus explains to His disciples this concept we will be looking at every week throughout our series on The Story.
Upper and Lower Story
The Lower Story is a horizontal, linear viewpoint. It is the everyday things. Life. We go to work, pay our bills, and change dirty diapers.
The Upper Story is a vertical, holistic view of the story. We see what God is up to and how he is weaving our story into His over-arching story.
Every week we will see the Lower story and Upper story. We will see how God’s Upper Story still intersects our own personal lower story just like it has since the creation of the world. In fact, the creation is God’s ultimate proclamation that he wants to intersect our story.
He didn’t have to create us, but he wanted someone to share his love with. He wanted to share his story with us.
God is the only one who can meet all our needs. We can become so focused on the lower story that we miss God’s great love for us. We can become so focused on our circumstances, pain, loss, that we forget there is always someone walking on the road with us. There is always someone who listens to our story, understands our pain, and then shows us how He fits in. God’s Upper story is all about preparation and provision.
God’s Story is Still being Written
READ Vs. 28-31
Not only did Jesus tell them His story, but he put them into it. He explained to them how his Upper Story has been written, but we don’t just learn about God’s Story, we become a part of it. They Recognize him as Jesus, the Saviour, the protagonist, the Hero! Their lives don’t have to go on without him, but their lower stories continue to be written in parallel with his upper story.
The disciples weren’t just learning about God’s Story, but got sucked into it. As we read a story, and fall in love with the characters, we become a part of the story. The more the disciples learned about Jesus, the more they were part of his story, and he part of theirs. As we recognize the characters, and fall in love with them, we enter The Story. Not just standing at the intersection of God’s story and ours, but recognizing him here in our midst! Seeing his story continually being written around us.
We don’t just want to know the Story, but the author of the Story. Many people can know “about” the author, but few take the time to actually get to know Him. Many of us continue to walk on the road, mourning over some loss in our story. Perhaps it is a character that we had fallen in love with. Perhaps a car that we spent our whole lives saving up for. Maybe a house that our story has been set in is now a pile of ash. But we don’t have to stay downcast. Our story isn’t over, and God has never left us to write it on our own. We can get to know him, let him listen to our pain, then listen when he explains his story to us, and recognize him with us every step of the way.
As we walk through The Story series together I challenge you to let his upper story intersect your lower story. Learn how to recognize him in our daily lives so that we can begin to realize what the over-arching theme of the Bible is. THAT GOD DESIRES TO REDEEM US IN SPITE OF OUR FAILURES. To say it another way, “God So loved the world, that he gave his own and only son. That whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16.