Monday, January 3, 2011

Living the story

I love starting a new year. I have for most of my twenties. There's something hopeful in the air, something breathing possibilities and fresh starts, and I'm a sucker for both. Unlike birthdays, when the day of turning a year older feels no different than the day before, turning the page from one year to the next feels like the drafting of a new chapter. It feels, almost, redemptive.

If only it could stay that way throughout the year. I think one of my goals for this year is simply to remain in an attitude of possibility and hope, that the opportunity for redeeming a story is never out of reach. Anything is possible. Really. Sounds like a lot of positive self-talk, and honestly, I wouldn't believe a word of it, unless...

I weren't the primary author of my story.

I like to write, and it feels that I have been given a lot of control over how I write my story. I certainly have choices - where I'll go with my story, what I'll say, what I'll believe. But really, I'm just, at best, a coauthor. I don't possess any genuine redemptive powers. But the Author of my story does. And that's why I believe it's possible to hold onto hope and possibility and redemption all year long, no matter what twists and turns my story takes.

You see, I have this dreadful tendency to look behind me when I'm writing. You can imagine that makes writing rather difficult. So much of my writing in the past several years has been focused on trying to grieve, interpret and redeem the past. But we can only look back for so long before we lose sight of what's ahead. After awhile of craning my head backwards, I feel like giving up, like what's the point of trying so hard.

Reading the apostle Paul's letter to the ancient church of Philippi, I wonder if he ever felt the same. He certainly had a lot more opposition and suffering than I have experienced. Yet, in one beautiful sweeping declaration, he stated that forgetting all that lay behind him, he would press on and strain forward to what lay ahead. And that was Jesus. That's it, just Jesus - his glorious joy and prize. In fact, Paul said that everything that was worth so much to him before was like garbage in comparison to knowing Jesus. What a statement. This guy knew how to set his gaze in the right place. He knew how to twist his head so that he was facing forward, running and even straining with all his might, toward the most precious goal of all.
Lord knows I would love to run with that kind of perseverance and passion for an entire day, let alone an entire year. I haven't done it yet, but I'm going to ask Jesus to help me run like that, live like that - and write like that. Because even if one day fails, the story can always start over the next day. That's the beauty of living a story that God is writing.

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