Are You A Part of This Story?


“Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.”—Dean Koontz, Dragon Tears

When it comes to my all-time favorite first lines, this one stands atop my list. Right from the beginning, Koontz gets my attention. A few pages later, when the detective and his partner talk about lunch, I’m put on alert. When a nicely dressed fellow walks into the burger joint they’ve selected, I’m asking, “Is this the guy?”

When I read the Bible, I look through the lens of an author and storyteller. I’m aware of first lines and the unfolding of plot and purpose. And the Bible does have a memorable first line. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

From page one to page last, the Bible’s story line unfolds like the typical romance. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy wins girl back. For a biblical romance that follows this plot line, you can read Hosea, a true story which itself exemplifies God’s love, loss, and redemption of humanity.

Again, thinking like an author, I see an amazing story told in the Bible that follows a three-act structure of a modern play or movie script.

Act 1. Set up. We’re introduced to the main characters and the story problem. Who are the main characters? God and people.

What is the story problem? People put distance between themselves and God. The old-fashioned term for this action is sin. The consequence is separation.

Act 2. Confrontation. This is exactly what it sounds like. Every good story has conflict. That’s what makes a reader turn pages or a movie viewer remain seated, gulping overpriced drinks, and gobbling down oil-saturated popcorn.

So where is the confrontation in the Bible? “…the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9 NKJV).

From that point on, we read about God confronting Adam, Eve, the serpent, Abraham, Lot, Moses, pharaoh, Egypt, Israel, many kings, various nations, and plenty of individuals in both the Old and New Testaments.

Act 3. Resolution. Remember the basic story problem—separation. The confrontations in the Bible serve to highlight how far people will run and to illustrate over and over again the chasm separating us from God.

A problem without a solution leads to resignation. “I’m doomed to always live this way. I can never be [well, healthy, wise, sober, faithful, loved, accepted, affirmed … add whatever you want to the list].”

That, my friends, is hopeless. And we human beings don’t do well without hope. We drink up, eat up, screw up, curl up, and then we die.

The great story of the Bible offers a resolution. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus …” (Romans 8:1a NKJV).

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23 NKJV).

I’m curious. How would you describe the problem between God and humanity and its solution?

Recommended reading:

Kari Scare writes about Sunday Reflections–Easter Reflections

Cheri Gregory writes about Pointing to Daddy

Donald Miller writes about The Power of Knowing Your Story

Ravi Zacharias writes about The Stories We Tell

My top 3 posts in the last 7 days:

Your Chance to Brag and My Top 5 Posts in March

Holy Week Thoughts and Observations

Shall We Gather at the River

You can find Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes at:

WestBow Press

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

"Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes" goes to men's prayer breakfast.

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing. Each new post will come directly to your email inbox. In a typical week, I post two new articles. Scroll up and you’ll find the Email Subscription button at the bottom of the right-hand column.

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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14 Responses to Are You A Part of This Story?

  1. Kari Scare says:

    First off, thank you for the mention in your post! Appreciate it.

    Second, to answer your question, I would describe the problem between God and humanity as our constant habit of losing focus and wandering away from Him and His continual act of drawing us back again. The solution? Us deliberately working daily to keep our focus on Him and then realizing this doing so is impossible without Him continually drawing us back again, and again, and again…

    • tnealtarver says:

      You’re welcome. I’ve been away from the computer most of the weekend and part of today so I haven’t done as much writing and responding. I did read your blog and thought it an appropriate connection to Friday’s and today’s postings (besides, mentioning my name doesn’t hurt–:-D).

      Thinking about an earlier comment of yours over the weekend, I read some throughout the day but my biggest reading slot is Sunday. From Sat. eve ’til Sun. eve, I turn off the computer. That opens up a lot of room for me to read. I know how important reading is to writing so I hope you can find that time you’re looking for. God bless and good writing.

      • Kari Scare says:

        I really need to be more deliberately in my reading time, meaning my book reading time. I still read lots of blog posts, but that just isn’t the same as book reading. I won’t give up though. I remember time all to well when I was too busy to read, and I don’t want to go back to that ever again.

      • tnealtarver says:

        That fits into your keep-life-simple philosophy that you wrote about recently.

      • Kari Scare says:

        You’re right it does. Thank you for that observation.

  2. A couple of years ago, my seniors came up with an apt distinction between a villain and a hero. I think it encapsulates the problem between God and man: a villain sacrifices others to save him/herself whereas a hero sacrifices him/herself to save others.

    The most detestable villains sacrifice the marginalized: the old, the infirmed, the weak, the young (in The Dark Knight, the Joker plants a bomb inside a mentally handicapped person).

    The most admirable epic heroes take special care of the marginalized (in Toy Story, Woody is calls first for Rex and Slink, the two “weakest links” in the gang).

    So the problem between God and man comes down to sacrifice: who and why.

    • tnealtarver says:

      You’ve got some wise students, Cheri. Those are apt and thought-provoking descriptions of the problem that exists and extends the imagery to our relationships. I am reminded of Paul’s statement in Romans 5:7-8. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

  3. Mary Jeffries says:

    Tom, thanks for the links to the others…I now am subscribed to Kari as well as you! You have it covered…Sin, disobedience to GOD separates us from God. And our selfish belief that we know better than God keeps us running away from Him instead of back to Him.
    Jesus paved the way, He became the gate for us to reconnect with God, to have open access to our loving Father. Through Him we can have a relationship that allows us to feel the Holy Spirit with us whether we are worshiping in community, or by ourselves, in traditional manner, or out in nature, at church or at work. The Holy Spirit is with us EVERYWHERE!
    All we have to do is accept the gracious loving gift God offers us and be forgiven and reconciled to Him.

  4. tnealtarver says:

    Glad to connect you with some good people. Did you see bluebonnets while you were in Texas (and did all the tornadoes miss you?)?

  5. Pingback: I Bet You Stop the Story Too Soon | A Curious Band of Others

  6. Pingback: Asking a Dumb Question Is Better Than No Question At All | A Curious Band of Others

  7. This is one of the reasons I really enjoy Ted Dekker’s Circle Series – it reminds me literally and figuratively of that romance between God and his people – the Great Romance – if you will.

    • tnealtarver says:

      I enjoyed that series as well. An author friend recommended I read Ted Dekker if I was interested in writing speculative fiction. She also recommended Dean Koontz. I have since read both and enjoyed them immensely. And, yes, the Circle Trilogy illustrates the Great Romance well.

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