Have you ever wondered, “Why do I really exist?” “What are God’s purposes for me?” “How can God use me to make a difference in the world?”
“I can only answer the question, ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story do I find myself a part?’” wrote Alasdair MacIntyre, a Scottish-American philosopher.
We are committed to helping you take your place in God’s story — your unique place.
There is a God story, a true story, one true story for the whole world. And it’s revealed in the pages of Scripture. To better discover your place in God’s great storyline, it is important to consider several important elements:
- You must first understand your story in connection to his story.
- You also need to become more keenly aware of your own design — your unique gifts, strengths and passions. You will benefit greatly by entering a journey of discovery related to God’s calling. You need to tap into the community around you, both to inform and to support your calling.
- And you must acquire some skills and competencies so that you might be more effective as you live out your unique calling.
What Is the One True Story?
Even though the Bible consists of 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over the course of some 1,500 years, one can still discern clear themes that make this a compelling and unified story. One way to see the Bible’s thematic structure follows the path of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration.
Genesis 1-2 communicates God’s creation of the world. Seven times in these two chapters, the Bible states, “And God said . . .” Immediately, something comes into existence. Light, water, sky, earth, plants, sun, moon, stars and animal life under the sea and on land. The eighth statement of God in this creation narrative begins with “Then God said . . .” Man and woman are created at that moment displaying the image and likeness of God. The creation story reveals God’s infinite power, his purposeful intentionality and his majestic creativity. Man and woman are listed last as the pinnacle of God’s creation and are given divine rulership over the rest of creation. It is a picture of God’s great goodness and provision. This part of the story provides us with purpose.
Genesis 3 records the Fall, the account of sin entering the world and the havoc that it brought. This biblical theme is called the “fall” because it depicts man and woman’s fall from a relationship with God and a creation that was perfect and in perfect harmony with God. Adam and Eve sin by choosing to disobey God. This part of the story reveals that there is a cosmic enemy who continuously tempts us to doubt God’s goodness and provision. He offers us cheap substitutes that will never satisfy. Genesis 3 also provides us with a portrait of God’s grace. It is a manifestation of God’s protection that Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden. And in Genesis 3:15, we see our first glimpse of God’s rescue plan as a child is predicted who will vanquish our great enemy. This solemn part of the story shows us our deep need for a savior and engenders faith.
The largest thematic section of the Bible, from Genesis 4 through Revelation 20, tells the story of redemption, God’s pursuit of us to provide a way of salvation. Over and over again, we witness God’s amazing grace, patience and love in demonstrating that dogged pursuit that reaches its climax with Jesus Christ becoming a man, living a perfect life of compassion and going to the cross on our behalf to pay the price for our sin. Then he is raised back to life after three days to reveal the new life that is possible for us as we place our trust in him for the forgiveness of sin. The rest of this section reveals the birth of the church and our participation in the mission of redemption. This theme brings us joy and comfort as we encounter God’s great love and sacrifice through Jesus Christ his son.
And finally, Revelation 21-22 depicts total restoration. This is a beautiful conclusion to the biblical narrative that shows how every aspect of creation that was revealed in the Book of Genesis will one day be brought back into perfect harmony with God and each other. This gives us hope now as we look to the future.
God’s story of salvation history is linear and dynamic. It goes somewhere. There is a clear plotline from creation to restoration. But you also see how key aspects of this structure show up over and over again in living color played out through the Bible’s many subplots.
The Bible literally begins with “In the beginning . . .” and concludes with “‘Surely I am coming soon’. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20, English Standard Version). These are bookends to a grand story from creation to the promise of complete restoration. But the individual stories of the Bible reveal the same themes. God creates people, moments and situations. Sin and brokenness taint every setting. There are repeated accounts of divine redemption and rescue. We are witnesses to the restoration of events and relationships. The Bible’s beauty lies in its rawness and in its sweetness. It displays tragedy and triumph, brokenness and beauty, injustice and righteousness, the lost being found.
The Bible reveals a heavenly father’s loving, merciful, and gracious efforts to restore relationship with his creation. And it reminds you that a holy God will one day bring justice and righteousness to the earth, to all living beings.
How You Fit in the One True Story
You are a character in God’s great storyline. You have a role to play and a contribution to make. Do you realize that from the very beginning in Genesis 1:26-28, you and I are charged with filling, replenishing and caring for the rest of creation? One of the greatest responsibilities God has given human beings is to bring order to chaos in every setting, to bring a beautiful dominion to the ugly and chaotic.
That means that God has tasked the third-grade teacher with bringing order to chaos in the classroom as lives are being shaped and formed. That means that God has tasked the architect to bring order to chaos with a set of drawings that represents beautiful spaces so that work and life can be done with greater energy and effectiveness. That means God has tasked the hotel manager to bring order to chaos by creating a hospitable stay where safety and rest coincide for the weary traveler. It can mean serving the poor, homeless or food-deprived that they might experience God’s goodness and peace. To bring order is to also arrange resources in such a way that others can flourish and thrive. Do you see how paying close attention to God’s great story begins to elevate our small stories into something truly meaningful?
This great storyline also includes your faith-filled initiatives to share Jesus with those who will listen. God has tasked you not only to fill the earth biologically but to participate with God to see his kingdom expand. As a follower of Jesus, you have this beautiful potential to make a difference for God’s glory, other people’s good and your deep satisfaction.
To find your place in this story, you need to read the whole story, to know the whole story. Knowing the story will deepen your intimacy with the ultimate author of the Bible. Knowing the story will lead to understanding God’s character and his ways. Knowing the story will help you to honor and respect every human being and the world God created.
The true story of the whole world counteracts all of the false fables in every society. You find your place in God’s story when you entrust your personal, small story to the author.
Whether you know it or not, everyone is connected to God’s story. Every small story carries meaning because it is connected to his big story. And you can join with God in the process of redemption, both through individual lives and through creating better spaces. Will you take your place?
Please keep journeying with us over the next four posts as we survey the other important elements.