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The Ever-after Story

“Once upon a time…”

If I ask you to tell me your life story, is that how you will begin? Probably not. Few people’s lives have been Cinderella-happily-ever-after experiences. Novelist Willa Cather said, “There are only two or three human stories and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” Hopeless fatalists might agree.

But Max Lucado helps us through the difficult parts of our lives by saying, “It’s important to live your life in chapters and know what page you are on.” What chapter and page are you on today? Some chapters drag relentlessly on and we are tempted to wonder if our story will, in the end, prove to be boring, drawn-out, and the kind one puts down and never comes back to.

Today, millions of people are stuck in black “chapters” as they wander spiritually, looking for a theme for their lives. Where do I fit into a plot? What character do I play? What is the wider significance of my surroundings: country, language, customs, family, and home?

Jesus, Master Storyteller, came to earth bringing answers from His Father. He told only one over-arching story: His story—of love, redemption, and salvation. Based on everyday activities of common people, the parables Jesus spoke from hillside theaters and boat-bobbing-in-water stages showed us that we are much more important to God than thousands of nobody extras in a Ben Hur spectacular. If we believe in His name, Jesus will show us how and where we fit—where He indeed chose us to fit—as important players in an eternal story.

Three great British storytellers discovered their places in that wider, cosmic story. Novelist Dorothy Sayers in “The Greatest Story Ever Staged” said, “The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama.” Brilliant Christian writer G.K. Chesterton said, “… I had always felt life first a story; and if there is a story, there is a story-teller.”

J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, saw the gospel as the great story of humanity. He has been quoted as saying, “The wonder of the gospel is this: Jesus Christ is not one more story pointing to those great truths, but Jesus Christ is the truth to which all the great stories point.”

These authors’ views corroborate the “gospel” or “good news,” an expression rooted in the Greek word “evangel.” When translated from Greek into Old English long ago, “evangel” became “Godspel,” meaning “God plus story.” Amazing!

Jesus entered men and women’s life stories by coming to this earth, and many of them, as well as us, have gladly entered His. Following our Master’s example, we too are called to tell the story. Have we not already sung all the verses of all the songs that encourage us to do so?

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.

Every Christian has a story to tell to the nations—not only the pastor, not only the missionary, but all of us. It’s a story set in the down-to-earth realities of life and death. It’s a story that can liberate us from long, painful chapters with tearful memories. It’s the story—ultimately—of Jesus whose appearance will one day be the climax to our own life stories. And, believe it, He will take us home where we will live with Him—happily ever after.