Finding Your Story in God’s Story

July 20, 2014 — 3 Comments

AllThingsNewPeople who know me well, know that I can very easily get lost. I think it must be part of my nutty professor DNA. When I first enter a shopping mall and begin walking from store to store, I still have a pretty good sense of direction.  But after shopping for awhile, especially after I’ve been up and down stairs and turned around a few times, I have no idea where I am in relation to where I parked. When my daughters were teenagers they learned quickly that dad’s internal compass didn’t work very well in the mall. After we’d been shopping for a while, one of them would often look up at me with a big grin and say, “OK dad, time to go back to the car. Which way?”

MallMapsLite_mainI would have no idea which way to go. That’s until I learned the secret of just walking until I found a mall directory map with three glorious words on it, usually highlighted in red, YOU ARE HERE. It was not until I could see the bigger picture and where I fit into it, that I could find my way.

Even though it often doesn’t feel like it, there is a reason why you are here. You are part of something truly epic and astonishing. And although they aren’t simple or exhaustive, there really are honest answers to the ancient questions human beings have been asking throughout history, such as:

  • Where did the world come from?
  • Where did we come from?
  • How does everything connect or fit together?
  • Why does anything exist at all?
  • Why is there evil and suffering in the world?
  • What happens when we die?
  • Why do we have a sense of rightness and wrongness?
  • What is really going on in the universe?
  • How can we find meaning for our lives?
  • Is there really meaning to life?

We look for these answers and connections, and we’re restless until we find them. That’s because nothing really makes ultimate sense in life until we can properly relate it to other things. God created everything that exists, including the earth and all the nations on it for a purpose. The degree to which we understand God’s purpose for the world is the degree to which we will understand God’s purpose for our lives in it. And the degree to which we align our life purpose with God’s purpose for the world is the degree to which we will experience the fullness of God’s purpose for our lives. To summarize:

God takes great pleasure in manifesting his presence and pouring out his power on those who will dare to align radically their purposes with his for the nations[1].

The only way we can discover God’s purpose for our lives is by learning how our story fits into God’s still-unfolding story for the universe. So in this book we will do a sweeping overview (the view from 30,000 feet) of the history of the universe, from creation to the final consummation of time, through the lens of the Bible. Although the bible is not a history book, when it speaks to history, it speaks truthfully [2].

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What’s unique about the Bible is not all the stories, but “THE STORY in the stories,”[3] the one, true human story that God means to shape our understanding of history and give ultimate meaning to our lives.

We can master a knowledge of all the biblical stories, and even master a knowledge of all Christian doctrine and theology, and still not really know THE STORY unfolding in the stories. Many years ago, a Hindu leader in India strongly reproved a young, well-intentioned missionary for how he and the other missionaries were presenting the Bible to them. He said,

I can’t understand why you missionaries present the Bible to us in India as a book of religion. It is not a book of religion–and anyway we have plenty of books of religion in India. We don’t need any more! I find in your Bible a unique interpretation of universal history, the history of the whole of creation and the history of the human race. And therefore a unique interpretation of the human person as a responsible actor in history. That is unique. There is nothing else in the whole religious literature of the world to put alongside it (emphasis mine). [4]

Although the Bible consists of a wide variety of writings (including laws, history, prophecies, poetry, letters, and apocalyptic writings), at its core the bible is one unfolding story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. God means for his story to so captivate you, that you are drawn into its plot to find your place and then compelled to draw others into that story with you for the rest of your life.

I invite you to join me on this life-changing journey to discover more deeply God’s unfolding story so that you might experience more fully your story in his.

_______________________

[1] See Challenging Missions Quotes for a free download of similar quotes compiled by Joshua Project staff. 
[2] Francis Schaeffer, No Final Conflict
[3] Edward Clowney, The Church: Contours of Christian Theology
[4] Lesslie Newbigin, A Walk Through the Bible
 
  • Uncle Dave

    I am eagerly looking forward to reading this book. We have so much confidence in Dr. Childers. Please let us know where we can buy his treatise. Go Sooners(Cowboys ?)

  • http://www.thethursdaycircle.com Steve Woodworth

    Steve- this is a great start. Easy enough for the common audience and compelling enough for pastors to want to explore. I think their may a bit of a struggle initially though with the vague notion of “purpose.” If you plan to flesh it out a bit later, you might consider doing it on the front end. It has been overused in the Christian context and has a hollow ring brought upon it by folks like Osteen and Warren. It just sounds like a generic “success” health and wealth promise. I know that is not where you are going, so you might want to demonstrate right from the outset how your definition of purpose is different, and hence, the reason for this book. – Cheers!

    • http://stevechilders.org Steve

      Steve- Thanks so much for your very encouraging words and helpful comments. I think your analysis and concerns are right on target. I can see how easy it would be for readers to respond to this abbreviated preface with a yawn followed by “Oh well, another book on finding our purpose/story in God’s purpose/story.” So please know I’m taking your words to heart and planning to address this legitimate concern “on the front end” (if my editor will let me) rather than waiting until later in the book.

      My wife and I were laughing tonight about how funny it is that my book’s “new contribution” to this “new finding your story in God’s story genre” is actually anything but new. In fact almost everything I’m writing has already been written very well by others (I sure hope so)–just not others in our generation. Hence, the reason for the book.

      Thanks again for your helpful response. I’m looking forward to your feedback on the next round later this week.

      Warmly in Christ,

      steve