There was a story playing in my head when I wrecked our car last year
Our youngest was up from Sunday afternoon nap, and all the kids wanted to eat something. I wanted to be a good dad by feeding all with something healthy before I rushed out the door. (A good friend shouldn’t be late for a buddy’s ordination, and I wanted to be a good friend.) I hadn’t left enough time to get there. In my hurry, I overlooked a full-sized SUV riding the wake of a king cab pickup in the two lanes coming toward where I waited at a stop sign. The story playing in my head tilted me toward risk for the sake of arriving on time. I played the part of a good dad and friend, but the story was so narrowly focused that I wrecked things around me.
What Part are you playing
When Paul told followers of Jesus, “Stop being conformed to the pattern of this age,” he was saying more than, “Don’t pick up nasty habits.” He meant that the many voices around us are telling us what part(s) we should play in their stories. The stories of our time have been pulled over our eyes, so that we don’t see the true story.
Without a spiritual awakening—opening the eyes of our hearts—we play the parts into which we are drafted by culture, politics, family, or a combination of influences. Jesus calls us to a role in the grand story of redemption, in which God Almighty frees his creation from sin and from death at great cost to himself.
The Grand Story of Redemption
The grand story from Genesis to Revelation, whose linchpin is the gospel about Jesus, has a part designed exclusively for each of us. The stories of saints from ages past tell us that God is faithful, that his story is hard but beautiful. When isolated himself from the family, a Christian forgets who he is. She slips back into playing a part in culture’s story. We all need the gift of spiritual predecessors, who live out their God-given part in the grand story of redemption, to know who we are as God’s people. We ourselves become gifts to the family of God when we embrace our own personal stories, grow in our private history with God, and make ourselves available to know and to be known by the community.