What is the story you are living? I would propose that this is the most important question that we could answer. Why, you might ask? Because this is the place where all the other major questions of life find an answer – the questions that haunt us all the days of our lives. What is the meaning of life? Is there life after death? What is truth and what is its source? All these questions can only be answered if we understand the story in which we live. Hence the problem. Most of us are ill-equipped to answer even begin to understand our story. And, how can we? For if the truth be known, only the author of the story can provide that understanding. Unfortunately, we lack the insight to even name this author. Certainly the author is not one of us, for if it were, that person would surely write a much better and happier story than the one we face on a day-to-day basis. There would not be danger, poverty, or illness if we were the author. No, the author is not among us.
Perhaps, as some would have us believe, there is no author and thus no real story at all. Life is just a random selection of atoms thrown into a galactic mixing bowl where certain molecules bind together. Here events are just perplexing occurrences based on the interaction of these atoms. However, if this be the case, then the answers to the questions that haunt our lives are, themselves, meaningless. But we are forced to reject this authorless premise as the questions that haunt our lives are universal and speak to something transcendent that ties humanity together. No, surely there is more.
So, if there is an author and that author is not one of us, the author must be different. Before we can answer the haunting questions, we must understand the story. To understand the story, we must know the author. To know the author, we must discover the author. So there be it. Resolved. Our first step is to find the author.
And so we begin.
Several years ago, I saw a bumper sticker that said “Life sucks and then you die.” Uplifting? Inspiring? Not quite. Years earlier, I had learned in school about a character named Macbeth who claimed, “Life … is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” If I asked you if you believed those statements, your answer would probably depend on your belief system. If you are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Jew you would probably answer with a resounding “no,” while an atheist or agnostic might be more apt to consider them as possibilities. However, if we are truthful with ourselves, regardless of our proclamations, we would have to agree, we often live like that is exactly what we believe.
You see, there is something going on around us that looks very much like a play. There are characters that interact with each other and the conflict and drama is unavoidable. Some characters are winners, others are losers. Unfortunately, we can’t tell exactly what kind of play we are in simply by watching the characters around us. At various times it looks like comedy, drama, romance, satire and even at times like an adventure. But the story of mankind is none of these, it is, in fact, a tragedy. However, the tragedy is not that we fail to live up to our highest ideals or other’s expectations. It is not that the world around us is corrupt and dangerous. Nor is it the fact that we never even got close to the life we dreamed of as a child, teen, or young adult. No, the tragedy is that we have gotten used to it.
Just look around and what do you see? There are terrorists killing and maiming hundreds and thousands daily. There is corruption and greed at every level of government. There are millions of children that go to sleep hungry at night, even in the wealthiest countries.Or worse yet, when we do experience true joy and happiness, there is a part of us that refuses to indulge in it because we know it is fleeting; we will wake up to reality in the morning we tell ourselves.
Are we stuck? Is this how our story will play out? If so, then life really does suck and death will be a welcome relief. But no, what if what we see play out day-to-day is not part of the main plot line? What if the play is not about us? What if main plot has a hero? After all, every good story has a hero, right?
Yes, thank God, there is a hero. Like all heroes, this hero was forced to take a chance. And hero-chances usually demand the hero’s life – this one did. In our story, that chance required special-ops deep in enemy territory. An operation to bring good news to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, and free prisoners from bondage. But, in a plot twist, the hero was not armed with the most ingenious and deadly of weapons. Our hero was a baby. God’s baby. A baby who has, as we speak, a place prepared for us and who is coming back to take us there. The baby who is no less than the God of the universe.
If we focus on our plot line, we forget. We think that this is all there is. We become used to this world. However, if we focus on our hero, we have hope. When I get home, I’ll be looking for the bumper sticker that says “Life’s awesome, then you live.”