We just met with a film screen-writer named Chad DeMiguel and some friends last night and my head is spinning with Story. Chad talked to us about how our stories are in God’s Story. His gospel Story is really the ultimate story in all of history and all good stories follow the components of the gospel story. The parts of story are a beginning, the middle and the end. The bible starts in the garden, then the Fall, and then God sends Christ to redeem us.
All great stories have these elements in them. Chad pointed out that the character has an “inciting incident” that puts him on a quest or journey. Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider. Frodo finds a ring. Lucy goes into a closet that leads to Narnia. You get the point.
The inciting incident forces the character to make a choice and in that decision we see the plot unfold with some kind of a “belly of the whale” moment, where the character is in the bleakest time of his life. Jesus in the garden and then on the cross. Frodo getting injured on his journey. Indiana Jones getting caught by the Nazis. Spiderman getting beat up by Green Goblin.
But then there is the resurrection climax! Jesus is raised from the dead and has victory over sin and death and redeems us. Spiderman beats the Green Goblin. Batman is victorious over the Joker and liberates Gotham City. Eric Liddel wins his race and holds to his conviction of honoring the Sabbath.
Eugene Peterson says in his book, Eat this Book, “Story is the primary verbal means of bringing God’s word to us….Story doesn’t just tell us something and leave it there, it invites our participation. A good storyteller gathers us into the story. We feel the emotions, get caught up in the drama, identify with the characters, see into nooks and crannies of life that we had overlooked, realize that there is more to this business of being human than we had yet explored. If the storyteller is good, doors and windows open. …They bring us into the spacious world in which God creates and saves and blesses. First through our imaginations and then through faith- imagination and faith are close kin here- they offer us a place in the story, invite us into this large story that takes place under the broad skies of God’s purposes, in contrast to the gossipy anecdotes that we cook up on a hot plate in the stuffy closet of the self.”
I like how Peterson emphasizes the biblical story inviting us in as participants into something larger than our sinful selves. We join the story as part of God’s huge novel and we are characters in it. Much like Joseph who is thrown into a well by his brothers and left for dead, and then he ends up being the prime minister of Egypt. He is able to redeem his brothers because the Redeemer is writing the Story and the Author takes our puny stories and brings us into the Grand Narrative.
How cool is it, that the Author of Life writes us into His Novel. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, he refers to them as Living Letters, “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God…to be known and read by all”.
How is your story? Are you participating with the Author of Life in the Great Story? Let’s be great storytellers. Because we know the Righteous Writer.