John Eldredge has done a masterful job in his book Wild at Heart (44, 45). He shares how for ten years of his life, he was as an actor and director for the theater.
“They were, for the most part, joyful years. I was young and energetic and pretty good at what I did. My wife was part of the theater company I managed, and we had many close friends there… In spite of the fact that my memories of theater are nearly all happy ones, I keep having this recurring nightmare. This is how it goes: I suddenly find myself in a theater – a large, Broadway-style playhouse, the kind every actor aspires to play. The house lights are low and the stage lights full, so from my position onstage I can barely make out the audience, but I sense it is a full house. But I am not loving the moment at all. I am paralyzed with fear. A play is under way, and I’ve got a crucial part. But I have no idea what play it is. I don’t know what part I’m supposed to be playing; I don’t know my lines; I don’t even know my cues.”
While Eldredge goes on to make a slightly different application with that story, I see in his story all of our stories. We’re born into this world. We’re thrown out onto the stage. And unless we know the larger story, the meta-narrative, we have no idea what part we are to play. We don’t know our lines, our cues.
This is one of the primary problems in our world. The world has lost the larger story. And atheists have decided to deny that there is even a Story-teller, implying that we should just make up our own script.
As atheistic existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre put it, “On a shattered and deserted stage, without script, director, prompter, or audience, the actor is free to improvise his own part.” We become our own gods and write our own story without any larger story to be concerned about or overarching purpose to live for. Our lives are caught up in what has been called “a tournament of narratives (Greenslade).”
So following cues offered by an anti-Story-teller world, we all (including Christians!) settle for lesser stories to star in, a tournament of lesser narratives – little stories to live for – an affair, a corner office, a better seat, a few more dollars, a little more control and power, a quick buzz, a little more fame, an atheistic blog or two, huddling together to try to convince each other that we’re doing the right thing.
God has given to us a larger story to live for. God made us. We rejected God and our story has been sabotaged by Satan. But God won’t give up until He wins us back and restores us to his original plan. The Gospel explains how God has authored a story to do this very thing, to romance us to His story.
And it’s a story that must be told. The lives of so many people are in desperate need to see and experience this story personally. People are lost to the story, like actors on a stage who don’t know their lines and there is no one to clarify the story; there is no story-teller in their lives.
In part, that’s what this blog is about; one small voice, orienting those who care to know, to the larger, grand story, large enough and big enough for all of us to live in for a lifetime. I’m arguing that God has given to us a larger story to live for. All of our smaller stories tie to a larger story – a metanarrative. We have fallen into a story, a sacred story. And if there is a story, there is a Story-Teller (G. K. Chesterton). And if God is the Story-Teller, He must love surprise endings because mankind was created with free will. Create some unexpected and surprise endings of your own! Get oriented to the larger story, the sacred romance.
Even though we all have shown up a little late to the movie and can’t make sense of the characters, plot, and setting, we can get up to speed right away. Get oriented to the Larger Story, and then you’ll know what character you are to play, what plot in life you are driving toward, and what settings are best locations to see your story unfold.
True love… true love…