Monday, February 4, 2013

Story, Part 2

Christ in the Desert
I saw this in Moscow by Russian painter I.N. Kramskoi (1837-1887)
So while I am reading Donald Miller's fine semi-autobiography, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I got to give a brief introduction to the prophet Isaiah in my Sunday school class and watch the Super Bowl XLVII the following week.

Also, my niece had to be rushed to the hospital for a C-section and, on the same day I found out later, a dear elder friend I know from serving at the Billy Graham Center had a stroke, a godly man I have known for a decade.

I attended the funeral for a pastor dad of a fellow Christian artist and had to buy groceries for my landlady's daughter who is estranged from her husband. It was emotionally exhausting.

It was story after story after story. The ones on paper and on film helped me realize this world is no safe place. We don't expect to avoid trouble and heartbreak, but we do want a positive outcome.

We want to win.

An online bud recently shared how he was teaching his little girl to play role-playing games - she likes Disney Princess characters - to exercise her imagination. He has kept the dice rolling out of it until now as to not confuse her. However, now when she rolls - secretly under the table - she announces that she has a "20" over and over again.

He does not want to hurt her feelings, but he's PRETTY sure she is fudging the rolls.

We want to win.

In giving my intro to Isaiah, the teacher had given me the question "Who is Isaiah?" and 3-4 minutes to speak. He knew there was not much data on Isaiah, and it should not take long.

He forgot my proclivity to expand. I found out a LOT about Isaiah by inference. How the man who was ashamed to see God and humiliated by his sins in Isaiah 6, was bold enough to stand beside his king when Jerusalem was surrounded and declare the utter destruction of the Assyrian king's armies. [2 Kings 19]

He asked me to sit down before I was finished. He was right, of course, but I was humiliated.

We want to win.

We want our stories to come out good every time: that the person we love will live and not die of cancer, that the pastor will live another 20 years, that she will say yes, that he will come home, that your friends will forgive, that your spouse will say "Don't go."

We want to win.

But as Dr. Bruce Banner so aptly says in Marvels' The Avengers, "Yeah... well, I don't always get what I want." His story is so bad, you understand immediately. You empathize.

I will tell you a common secret: here, in this world, you do not always get what you want.

But in Christ you do.

The drama is for now, but not forever.

You and I cannot defeat death. Christ did. You and I cannot heal the sick, raise the dead, give sight to the blind - but Christ did.

It is a galactic scale story. Here is just the opening act. Here the effects are only temporary. Here it is a challenge to simply get out of bed some days.

But in Him - and yes, I have felt His power - there is eternity. A story that never ends. In film classes, they say if you are good enough, you can have a very long climax to a film - say fifteen to twenty pages - and no one will be upset. But as soon as the climax is over, end the film.

I think we are living something like that here on Earth.

I also think heaven will be like that - a crazy super-climax. A never-ending stacking of glory upon glory. It just will not end.

The famed C. S. Lewis said something like this, concerning "Aslan's Kingdom" [i.e. heaven] in The Last Battle:

"All [the children's] life in this world and all their adventures... had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning
Chapter One of the Great Story
which no one on earth has read:
which goes on for ever:
in which every chapter is better
than the one before

I can see that happening. With no decay, no evil, no sin, it can be like that. We are promised it will be greater than we can imagine. A story that gets better every day, with each chapter BETTER than the one before?


I hope you make it to Aslan's Kingdom.

I want you to win.


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