Narrative

Give them stories

It was Russell Kirk who once said, “If you don’t give young people good stories, they will seek out bad ones.” I have told my children many times about my days growing up in Brazil. I told them about the poverty that was so prevalent; the slums that provided an unforgettable scent to our little part of the city. I also told them about the soccer games we had near the slumsa and how the smell never bothered us when we were communing around the sacrament of a soccer ball. My children look at me with wonder in their eyes. They can hardly believe that their father had such a history. It’s my story and I tell them as often as possible.

My hope is that as they grow I may be able to tell them grown-up stories about my older years as a teenager and the lessons I learned. I want to put it all in the context of daddy’s commitment to Jesus and how Jesus delivered their father from a multitude of sins. These are good stories. I want them to see redemption in each one of them. I want them to have good stories in a world shaped and orchestrated by God. I want them to hear of good stories where faithful saints undergo pain and persecution, but yet find hope in God through it all.

I pray that my children will not seek out bad stories due to the lack of good ones.

Phillip Pullman stated that “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” I want my children to see stories in relationship and never isolated from our provision. I want them to hear them and through them see that we are providing them a form of food that will sustain them in their own stories.

There are many stories in this world. Some of them are true, good, and beautiful. Some of them are false and are meant to take away your appetite from the true story-teller of this world; the Creator of all stories. When my children come across these types of stories may they see it for what they are: pseudo versions of God’s narrative; anti-story.

  1. known as favelas  (back)

Communion Meditation: Our Story

The Story of redemption is written only in the mind of God. We know the end of the story, but we do not know what is to transpire before that end. In the same manner, our stories are not fully written. Everything we are going through is part of God’s writing process. And God is not only a good writer, but a perfect director. Nothing in our lives catch God by surprise. Our doubts, concerns, and pain are not what define us, but rather trust, hope, and comfort define us.

At this table, God is providing that for us. If you eat and drink trusting in God and believing that he is writing our stories with His good in mind, then we can begin to find relief in our narratives. This meal is a means of grace for us, and is part of the way God writes our story.

We Need New Ears and Eyes

I began my day reading through Jim Jordan’s magnum opus, Through New Eyes. Jim is a dear friend and we have worked together for three years (09-11). I have literally read and listened to hundreds of articles, sermons, & lessons. If Jim publishes, my eyes will seek to scan it. In many ways, he has taught me to love the Bible in a deeper way than before.

My seminary days were wonderful days. I had the privilege of sitting under some of the most renown Reformed theologians alive. It was filled with excitement and theological epiphanies. But none of these men came near to the theological revivals that James Jordan  caused in my own thinking. Jordan enabled me to appreciate the Bible for its own merit. He caused me to love the Bible for its own structure, poetry, cadence, rhythm, and music. Yes, the Bible is a beautiful song sung by Yahweh Himself in Genesis 1 and closing with the eternal song of eternity in Revelation 22.

In TNE, Jordan observes:

…the universe and everything in it reveals the character of its Creator. God designed the universe to reveal Himself and to instruct us. The problem we have is that sin has made us deaf and blind. We need new eyes and ears, and the Scriptures can help us get them (13).

These new eyes and ears are only re-shaped and re-designed as we allow the Scriptures to do so. The Bible shapes us as a people. The Word of the Lord re-orients our minds to see God’s instruction in everything. The world, and in particular, Scriptures, communicate to us through vast symbols. The revelation of Yahweh contains a specific language that we need to master. And the only way of mastering it is by seeking its guidance day and night.

Hear the Bible

One strong emphasis James Jordan has made over the years is that reading the Bible is not enough. Listening to it is equally important. The ancients did not manuscript copies available as we do, but yet their minds were saturated by the language of Scriptures. Their minds delved deeply into the rich types and symbols of the Old Covenant Scriptures. They heard it read and began to make connections. They did not only accept explicit types and symbols, but they saw that the entire Bible was one story pictured in symbols and types, and since this is the case, therefore every narrative is connected to the one previous and the one after.

Hearing the Bible especially in a community setting takes us away from our natural tendency to isolate ourselves. The isolation of evangelicalism is due to hermeneutical isolation. Individuals are perfectly satisfied to pietize the Bible. And as they do so, they turn their individualism into a standard for others. But when we hear the Bible, when we listen to one another in our communities, and when we allow the Church to speak–as she should–we become part of a greater hermeneutical project.

Hear the Bible, but don’t hear it alone. Hear it, and then contextualize it in this grand story of redemption. And when this is done, sin’s hermeneutical effects began to fade away and our eyes and ears will be able to do those things they were created to do.

For book resources, see here. For his audio series on How to Read the Bible, see here.