If you keep telling the same sad small story, you will keep living the same sad small life. —Jean Houston
This year, as in most years, I am starting it off by thinking about my goals and resolutions for the coming year. While I have some measurable goals my main goal is to tell a better story.
By story I mean the narrative that I consciously and unconsciously tell myself that drives my actions and gives my life meaning.
When I look at the storyline of my life there is so much of it that is sad and small.
I want to change that.
I’m not talking about telling a story I make up but telling, or rather re-discovering, the Story that is being written by the Great Storyteller.
I want that story to define my life and my actions more than any other story that the world, the devil or I tell myself any given day.
I experienced some of this over the past year and a half through the parable of the Prodigal son. This is a story that I have known and studied many times but everything changed when I began to really see myself as the prodigal son. Instead of reading it as an example of God’s love for another person, I began reading it as a description of my own present experience of God’s love for me in my sin. The result felt like being saved all over again. And since then, I have gone back to that story again and again and increasingly that story is becoming a real part of the narrative of my life.
This year I want to press into God’s grand-narrative and live my life as an active participant in His personal plot written for me. I want to move from merely knowing stuff about the story to running around in the story.
My hope is to trade the bits of sad, small story that I tell myself for more of God’s happy, epic story.
One of my favorite things about New Years is the NHL Winter Classic. Growing up in Canada I spent much of my childhood playing street hockey in the snow and cold. My elementary school had an outdoor ice rink. My friends and I all dreamed of being the next Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier. In a wonderful way for me these outdoor NHL games bring back a flood of memories. They are also incredibly entertaining. This year, Toronto won in a shootout after three regulation periods and one five-minute overtime. Doesn’t get better than that!
These photos were too good not to post. All photos are credited to Getty and AP Images.
“Jesus came…’not simply to show us the pattern of true sonship, but to restore our human life to perfect fellowship with our Father who is in Heaven.’”—T.F. Torrence ‘When Christ Comes and Comes Again’
In heaven there shall be no interruptions from care or sin; no weeping shall dim our eyes; no earthly business shall distract our happy thoughts; we shall have nothing to hinder us from gazing forever on the Sun of Righteousness with unwearied eyes. Oh, if it be so sweet to see him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face for aye, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one’s eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest day, when wilt thou dawn? Rise, O unsetting sun! The joys of sense may leave us as soon as they will, for this shall make glorious amends. If to die is but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is indeed gain, and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory.
You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty—forever empty. That knowledge that it’s all for nothing and that you’re alone. It’s down there.
And sometimes when things clear away, you’re not watching anything, you’re in your car, and you start going, ‘oh no, here it comes. That I’m alone.’ It’s starts to visit on you. Just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it…
That’s why we text and drive. I look around, pretty much 100 percent of the people driving are texting. And they’re killing, everybody’s murdering each other with their cars. But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.
“And this is how worship works: Christian formation is a conversion of the imagination effected by the Spirit, who recruits our most fundamental desires by a kind of narrative enchantment— by inviting us narrative animals into a story that seeps into our bones and becomes the orienting background of our being-in-the-world. Our incarnating God continues to meet us where we are: as imaginative creatures of habit. So we are invited into the life of the Triune God by being invited to inhabit concrete rituals and practices that are “habitations of the Spirit.” As the Son is incarnate— the Word made flesh meeting we who are flesh— so the Spirit meets us in tangible, embodied practices that are conduits of the Spirit’s transformative power. The Spirit marshals our embodiment in order to rehabituate us to the kingdom of God. The material practices of Christian worship are not exercises in spiritual self-management but rather the creational means that our gracious God deigns to inhabit for our sanctification.”—Imagining the Kingdom (Cultural Liturgies): How Worship Works by James K. A. Smith
“The story that Christianity tells, of course, claims to give more than just a clue, in fact to give no less than the very meaning of life itself and not just of some lives but of all our lives. And it goes a good deal further than that in claiming to give the meaning of God’s life among men, this extraordinary tale it tells of the love between God and man, love conquered and love conquering, of long-lost love and love that sometimes looks like hate.”— Frederick Buechner
The Parable of a Man Who Lived in a Cottage by the Sea
There is a famous parable about a man who lived in a cottage by the sea. Every morning, the man went fishing and caught just enough fish for the day. Afterward, he would spend time playing with his son, take a siesta, and enjoy lunch with his family. In the evening, he and his wife would meet friends at a local bar, where they would tell stories, play music, and dance the night away. One day, a tourist saw the fisherman and his meager catch and asked, “Why do you only catch three or four fish?” “That is all my family needs for today,” the fisherman replied. But the tourist had gone to business school and could not help but offer advice: “You know, if you catch a few more fish and sell them at the market, you could make some extra money.” “Why would I want to do that?” the fisherman asked. “With the extra money you could save up and buy a boat. Then, you could catch even more fish, and make even more money, which you could use to buy an entire fleet of boats!” “Why would I need so many boats?” queried the fisherman. “Don’t you see? With a fleet of boats, you could sell more fish, and with the extra money, you could move to New York, run an international business and sell fish all over the world!” “And how long would this take?” the fisherman asked. “Maybe 10 or 20 years,” the businessman said. “Then what?” the fisherman said. “Then you could sell your company for millions, retire, buy a cottage by the sea, go fishing every morning, take a siesta every afternoon, enjoy lunch with your family, and spend the evenings with friends, playing music and dancing!”
“In the age of the realtime, social web, the person taking the photos is often distracted by the urgent desire to share near realtime photos of an experience. Is it worth reducing an entire real life experience to what can be seen through a tiny screen?”—This is You on Smiles — Click the Shutter — Medium
This is the story of a three-year-old girl and the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl is a legal battle that has entangled a biological father, a heart-broken couple, and the tragic history of Native American children taken from their families.
This is a critical issue in adoption and has huge implications for the best interest of multitudes of children and families.
Radiolab has done an excellent job of gathering links to various sources and reports including including a link to my good friend Johnston Moore’s perspective. Johnston is an adoptive father of six children, three of whom are part Indian. He is also the director and co-founder of Home Forever, and a founding member of the Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children & Families. NewsOK). Read his piece ‘Some different talking points about Indian Child Welfare Act.’
“There is much suffering in the world-physical, material, mental. The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.”—Mother Teresa
“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to died for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”—