April 07, 2011
the greatest story ever.
i am in a book club with a handful of my closest guy friends. it was suggested by someone that we read this book called "water for elephants" which was supposed to be a real gem.
we were reluctant at first - the book was written by a woman and this is the "ultra manly book club" (iUMBC* for short) - but we all agreed that if it was so highly acclaimed that this book must be worth some literary value.
we should have followed our hunch - the book is awful.**
the book developed well at first. it was entertaining and interesting and had all the details that made you ask, "man, how is the author ever going to get this story to come together in the end?" i like books like that. books that make you think there are going to be loose ends, but end up coming together beautifully in the end. where you turn the last page and you think, "wow. that was impressive work."
then suddenly, about 2/3 of the way through the book - on page 299 - [spoiler alert/saving you the frustration] two minor characters with developing story lines are thrown off a train to their deaths. no resolution. no answers. no real reason - they are just ditched from the story, and the reader is left to wonder why they cared so much about their well being in the first place.
the Bible does not do things like this.
the Bible is a mysteriously ancient book full of questions, creation, destruction, war, letters, songs, prophecies and stories. there are thousands of pages. there are countless stories - some historical, some metaphorical, some prophetical. the first 2/3 of the christian Bible - the old testament - is comprised of 39 different books written by a bunch of different people, but despite its varying authors, tones and styles, all the pieces fit together to develop the most incredible back story ever written. and what makes the Bible even more amazing is that everything comes together in the end. there are zero loose ends.
everything is fulfilled to perfection.
tonight i had the privilege of partaking in a passover seder dinner with this year's confirmation class and their parents. i had never had been to one of these jewish traditions before, and i didn't know exactly what to expect. i knew it would be a lot of symbolic foods and actions that pertain to the delivering of the Israelites from Egypt following the Exodus "passover". that's about all i knew.
i was amazed at the power of this meal. every piece of this Jewish tradition pointed to Jesus. granted, we read a modified script that detailed exactly how each piece of the dinner perfectly foretold the coming, suffering, dying and ressurecting of our Lord. i found myself thinking, "how can anyone read this text and be blind to how wonderfully Jesus fulfills everything foretold in the Scriptures?"
in Exodus, God sends an angel of death to Egypt to kill every first born son - man and animal - and the only way to avoid being subject to this killing is to kill an unblemished lamb and - without breaking any bones - spread it's blood across the doorframe of your house. that is what will save you from death.
1000 years before he was even born, God was already pointing toward Jesus - the sinless man who would bleed to death while hanging on a wooden cross.
just as the Israelites were delivered from bondage, so we are delivered. through the death of this "lamb" that was foretold about 1000, 800, 600, 450 years before he even shows up. the links between the old and new testaments are too perfect to be anything but God-breathed.
as we near the beginning of Holy Week, i am struck more powerfully than ever before by story of our God and how perfect his ways are. there are no loose ends or unexplained storylines. everything works together exactly how it should.
and that includes my storyline.
and it includes your storyline.
the same unchanging God who delivered his people from the grip of Pharoah, the same God who parted the Red Sea. the same God who miraculously provided food and water for his people in the desert. the same God who spoke to his prophets. the same God who sent his foretold son so that we too may be delivered.
that same God - the one who knitted us in our mother's womb and set us apart by his grace - has included you and me in his perfect story. and you better believe that he isn't going to chuck us off a train and dispose of our storylines because he's having trouble working us into his perfect plan.
cause clearly, that's not something our God does.
just look at the book he wrote.
* - the "i" has since been added because one of our members is now in the country of columbia - making the word "international" essential to our title.
** - and i'm going to go out on a limb that the movie will be entirely worse. casting cedric diggory/mr. twilight/robert pattinson as the protagonist was the perfect move in making a bad book into a worse movie.