Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tell Me a Story

When I was in my late teens, I wanted answers and I wanted them now. Who is God? How do I know that I know? Why am I here? Does history have a point, a purpose? What does it mean to be fully human? What is the nature of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty? Why is there so much evil and tragedy in the world? What’s it all about, Alfie?

The problem I kept running into on my quest-ioning was that every time I worked out a proposition or syllogism that would explain the Truth of my answers to any of these questions, I was always left with the awareness that there were mysteries that were still unanswered and unfathomable. Now that I am, let’s just say, no longer in my teens, I see that Truth – like God -- cannot be placed in a box, all tied off with a pretty ribbon. To put it another way, we may increase in understanding, but we will never fully understand, as there is always more to know and to see. Which is why I am now quite distrustful of pat answers, pretty boxes, and propositions masquerading as Final Answers.  

Garrison Keillor wrote that, when you get old, you realize there are no answers, just stories.  Think about that for a moment. Now, think about the Bible. Is it filled with propositions and syllogisms … or with stories? God’s stories give us a framework within which we know the Truth is over here, not over there. Goodness acts like this person; evil acts like that person. God’s love and grace is not so much explained as it is demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ and God's involvement in the stories of the people in the Bible. And the thing about a great story is that, as we grow and mature, we come back to them and see even more than we did when we read them the last time.

I wonder sometimes if this is why so many Christians are such poor communicators, when it comes to sharing their faith. When people are struggling or in pain or wondering where God is while their lives are in chaos, they don’t want a doctrine thrown in their face, a ready made “answer” for all that ails them: they need to hear a story – His story and yours. 

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

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