People of the Story
When you enter into a great story, you also enter into an interesting relationship with the author. To participate with this great story, you first have to relinquish a great deal of control. You don’t get to decide who the characters are. You don’t get to decide how the plot unfolds or what the ending is going to be. You don’t have control over which parts of the story are going to make you cry and which parts are going to make you laugh. You don’t get to decide when the story makes your heart race and when it moves with such ease that hours go by like minutes.
Ordinarily you and I wouldn’t relinquish that much control to someone. But a great story written by a great author is different. The opportunity to get swept into a story bigger than you is an opportunity too amazing to pass up. A great author will capture your imagination, touch your emotions, and transport you into another reality. A great author sweeps you into moments of transcendence. You have to surrender to the author of the story to enter into that
When we talk of cementing ourselves to Jesus as the author of our faith, we are using the language of story. We are recognizing that there is a bigger story than ours and that it is a story that is unfolding all around us. It is a narrative of a God who loves his people, but whose people have turned on God and on each other. It has a main character who loves all he created and who has a crazy plan for reclaiming that which has been lost. It is a story of restoration and of renewing, a plotline of a redeeming love, the greatest love of all.
To use the words of Dr. Snodgrass, “Christians are people who take their identity from someone else’s story. It’s not that we don’t have our own story. It’s that our story is part of a bigger story.”
I have met a number of people who fear that if they surrender their life to Jesus, they will lose their individuality. They perceive themselves more like pawns in a chess game than irreplaceable characters in the greatest story ever told. They fear that if they abdicate control, they will no longer have a story, because a devoted life to Jesus will require that they leave behind their dreams and ambitions.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. God’s narrative doesn’t swallow your narrative—it gives meaning to it. It’s only as we are transposed into God’s bigger story that our individual story makes any sense. It’s only as you find your place in God’s story that your story ends up with any meaning.
This has certainly been true for me. I grew up in a Christian home and therefore had the luxury of being exposed to biblical knowledge from early on. But my testimony is evidence that you can know the right answers but still refuse to allow Jesus to become the author of the story.
It wasn’t until I made the shift—even as a professing Christian—from having myself be the author to letting Jesus being the author that I discovered true life to the full. I had no idea how my narrative was going to unfold when I made this shift. I couldn’t have imagined that I would go from working at an internet start-up company to working at a suburban megachurch. I couldn’t have imagined going from a suburban megachurch to spearheading an urban church plant. I couldn’t have imagined that my story would require a move from a white, monocultural setting to a multiethnic, multicultural one.
And it’s a good thing I couldn’t imagine those things. The truth is that I would have never had the courage or foresight to respond to those huge faith moments if I had been given access to them on the front end. I have come to learn that trusting my life to Jesus as the author of faith is the most exciting way to live. There are hard moments, scary moments, and doubt-filled moments along the way. But those always give way to something even better—Jesus himself.
I have learned that when I put my trust in Jesus and courageously follow him in both the small and big faith moments of life, he comes through in ways I could have never even dreamed.
I hope the same will be true for you. I hope that the vision from Hebrews of Jesus as the author of your faith will be one that reshapes the way you see and relate to Jesus. If you haven’t fully made this commitment already, I hope you will now. I stand with you as we
continue to make Jesus bigger in our lives, cease striving to be the author of our own stories, and allow the author of faith to take hold of the narrative from this point forward.
Excerpt from 10:10 Life to the Fullest, written by Daniel Hill. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2014. Used by permission.