Thursday, April 20, 2006

God and the Elements of Story

So I read the third chapter of Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (review forthcoming) and I felt compelled to mention one of his ideas here. He relates the idea of God with the components that are in every story ever told: Setting, Conflict, Climax, and Resolution. His thought process goes something like this: If God created everything, including life, and these story components did not come from a person, but from life, then they originally came from God. It provides some interesting insights into God and life.

First up is Setting, which can almost go without mentioning. Who. What. When. Where. Etc. My setting is America. 2006. My Wife and Job. The only somewhat profound thing from this is that we all have a unique setting. We all have a unique story.

Next comes Conflict. There is a reason there conflict in every story ever told. Conflict is part of life. It makes life interesting. Perhaps fully embracing that idea would help us deal with conflict better. Perhaps we would freak out less and trust more. I think that the definition of maturity is becoming good at handling conflict. How did you handle it today? How will you handle it tomorrow?

Third is the Climax. This is the exciting part. The climax is what makes the conflict worth it in the story. Miller defines climax as the place where "a point of decision determines the end of the story." Interesting. We don't generally view our decisions in life as determining the outcomes of our story, but on the big picture this is true. One of Andy Stanley's 7 Checkpoints (For sale, bottom left), the 7 most important things we can infuse into teenagers, is teaching them to make good decisions. Ultimately, the most important decision I will make is answering the question "who is my Lord?" To whom do I belong? In a very literal way this decision determines the end of our story. I have to believe, though, that every other little decision I make has some effect on this outcome too.

Lastly is Resolution. One of the greatest securities about Christianity is knowing that our stories do resolve well. They do have a happy ending. This is the source of our hope. The best part is that it is not a scam. Our ending is not like so many other things in this world where it is "never as good as it seems." In fact, it is better than we can even imagine! Again, this is true on the small scale as well. I honestly believe that following Jesus is the best way to live, even removing an afterlife from the picture. I think it is better to forgive than to be bitter. It is better to be generous than to be greedy. It is better to tell the truth than to lie. Why? Because it is. For some reason life works out better when we do it that way. By the way, that is also what God suggests. His rules are only for our benefit. Why do we so often forget that? How great it is to be the part of a story that has resolution. This is my story. What's yours?