Monday, October 12, 2009

A Better Story

I was talking with my oldest daughter recently, she recommended Donald Miller’s new book: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I put my name on the list at the local library and waited.

We met her at a coffee shop one day last week and she pulled the book out of her over-sized bag and began to read out loud. I love to hear her read. She has beautiful inflection and lovely nuances in her voice—she is interpreting as she reads. Her face is animated and alive. I would have been interested simply because of her reading.

She flipped through the chapters and found snippets and one-liners with very little pause or rest—saying nothing besides Miller’s words from the page. And she would wait until we had soaked the words into our skin.

She talked about how the author wanted to live a better story, and how in turn that made her want to live a better story (you can read hers at www.ancientstillness.blogspot.com).

To live a better story--this line caught my attention.

I want to live a better story.

I got the book and my husband and I decided to read it out loud together. This morning we read the second chapter and laughed so hard we almost spewed our breakfast drinks through our nostrils (I know—graphic, but you have to understand how incredibly funny Miller is.)

As we were reading I remembered the first day my daughter talked to me about this book. She talked about living a better story. We were on the phone and I scrambled to write the phrase down on the first piece of paper that was handy.

It became a prayer.

A one sentence prayer that I have been praying ever since.

My sweet God is answering my prayers.

Yesterday, we got to be a part of the greater story—the big story. For a brief moment we got to witness how our stories wove and interwove with others and created a whole. The entire morning was in slow time. Lines in our worship seemed to be punctuated by the myriad of voices and highlighted on the screens in case we had missed them.

Lord, I want to love you from the inside out…consume me from the inside out….

Dave taught the word with a rawness and an urgency that was tangible. I was caught in the story of Gideon.

Notice that?

Caught in the story.

It is the stories that grab us. The stories hold us. The stories teach us. Jesus knew this and so he told the story of the woman with the lost coin, the prodigal son, the workers in the vineyard, and the rich man and Lazarus.

He told stories because they snag us even when we don’t want them to.

Stories linger. Stories stir.

Dave told the story of Gideon. The story is rife with this man’s excuses for not being the right man for God’s job. It is the story of his fleeces to test the calling of God. And so we were caught in the story.

I want to live a better story.

When the service was over there were some decisions to be made concerning the vision and future of the Body of Christ at our church. For a few minutes that small store-front sanctuary was filled with a tension. Not a negative one. But one that is like the underside of a sewing machine stitch. At times and in certain situations you need tension to hold things together.

Again, it was as if we were in slow time. Not slow motion, but slow time. Words were highlighted. Emotions were bared. Vision was illuminated.

I was a part of a better story. Part of something bigger and greater than myself.

Then we gathered as a body to pray for a young man who will be going into the military service in a couple of weeks.

We'll simply call him Christian.

Green. Intelligent. Guarded.

Searching.

Afraid.

The series of events that led Christian to this particular body is amazing and crazy. His story was/is so intertwined with ours.

He sat on a stool at the front. The first circle to gather around him was full of pillars--men past their primes. Yet there was was so much strength and power in that circle. Their gnarled and veined hands cupped the young man’s shoulders.

The second circle consisted of others who had invested in Christian's life. People who had prayed for him before. Those arms reached through the first circle and put their hands on him too.

We prayed.

And we became a part of the bigger story. Not just Christian's story or our story, but THE STORY.

And like Gideon and Jacob we built an altar so this young man would remember. Every prayer spoken, uttered, or breathed placed a stone in its construction.

This will be a place he can return to and remember.

This is the place Christian can go back to in his mind when life around him is frightening and lonely, and he will remember that God will never leave him or forsake him. This altar, built with weeping and soul cries, will remind him that he is loved. It will remind him that he is a part of a bigger story.

I want to live a better story.

I want my life to be filled with making altars so others can be reminded of the overwhelming, deep, powerful, gripping love of God!

Peter talked about it. He said we were living stones.

I want to live a better story.

Don’t you?

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