I've been waiting the whole series to write this post.
I recently told a friend that I see things through two lenses: music and capital-S Story. So this is, as you might imagine, pretty close to my heart. So close that I hardly know what to say.
What does one say about a theme of one's own life? How do you even begin to write about something as nebulous as Story?
Except I have a couple of things to say (no one is surprised).
Some of you may know that I am desperately in love with the liturgical calendar/the church calendar. My beautiful Sacred Ordinary Days planner includes the Revised Common Lectionary for the day, and over the last year I have REALLY enjoyed reading it. It's made a huge difference in my life as I watch God weave theme. Recently, during this everlasting period of Ordinary Time, the Lectionary has followed, quite simply, the story of Israel. At the time of this writing, we're just wrapping up with Moses and making our foray into Joshua's leadership of the nation of Israel. I've progressed from the Patriarchs on through the Exodus, and now the Israelites are about to make their entrance into their inheritance.
The important thing about all this, of course is that it's the story of Israel.
The truth is, I have trouble just listening to a story without moralizing it.
The truth is that I have trouble just reading the Bible as an account, as a story. I fall into the trap of all those who grew up in church: we are constantly looking to learn from the Bible. And we should! Nothing wrong with that at all. But we forget:
It is also a book of poetry. Of history. Of letters. Of records. Of prophecy. This is no textbook, sports fans.
So when I read the historical account of what factually happened to Israel, I have trouble seeing it as anything other than a textbook.
This comparison rises to mind and causes a little bit of the color to drain from my face: it's as if I see the accounts (factual accounts, friends of mine) in the Bible as if they were only analogies told to represent a moral issue. As if they were the outlandish examples in word problems. Instead of remembering that they are real accounts that happened to real people: it's hard for former church brats (hashtag represent) to see the Bible as anything like that, though we know it factually. It's just always been something to learn from.
Again, nothing wrong with that. But it's more than that.
And when I remind myself of that, I suddenly feel like Mary, Lazarus' sister, who simply sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him talk, as opposed to bustling about with busy hands like her sister, Martha.
(Martha had to have been the big sister, right? We can all agree on that?)
I remember that Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better. That the better thing is not to spin ourselves in circles as we strive to make something of what we hear. The better thing is to simply sit with Jesus and listen to Him tell the story.
That's something that I've noticed over the last few days in my time with Jesus. I get very frustrated with Psalms, because I can't journal them to death; I can't distill them to their essence. Psalms give me a feeling, but I can't reduce it like a sauce. When I think about it, I realize that of course I can't do that: the Psalms are poetry, and we can't distill poetry to a single point. It's a sunrise, and it causes something to swell in our hearts: something big and indefatigable and indefinable.
And when I read the Psalms I get annoyed because I don't know what to do with it.
And I Hear the voice of God whispering to me: You don't have to do anything with it. Just sit with Me. Just listen.
Just hear the story.
I am learning to be still and to, I guess, allow myself to feel my feelings (question mark?). Allow the Spirit of God to stir and my heart and do what I cannot define nor pin down.
I am not sure yet how all of this relates to calling.
Except that God is writing my story.
I don't yet know how to use all the elements. I don't yet know how to finagle them all together. I am trying to wrangle them and tie them with a lasso, to pin them down and tie their legs together like a cow (can we tell that I'm from Texas?).
But maybe what God asks from me is to simply sit and wonder and listen at the story He is telling for me and in me and through the pores of my skin.
We are actors in our story, and as such we cannot make sense of it all right now. When you're in it, it's impossible to tie up all the loose ends, impossible to see where it's going until after the fact -- and even then, we might not be able to sense it. Hindsight is 20/20, except for when it's not. Except for when it's blind. I've said again and again that adventure sucks when you're in it. That's because we only see where we are. We cannot see the glorious end.
For we are guaranteed a glorious end.
This morning I read in 1 John 3 that one day we will be like Jesus, when He appears. We will be clothed in white robes before the throne of the Lamb, and we will no longer hunger nor thirst, and we will receive a glorious never-ending end.
That's the great thing about our Adventure. In The Two Towers, Sam Gamgee tells Frodo that actors in the stories he loves can't see the end, and sometimes the ends were sad. There are lots of parts of our stories that are sad -- but the ending will be nothing short of grand.
It will be full of sunrise.