on feeling like you’ve been dropped into the middle of your own story: Acts 21

Acts 21.  When Jason Bourne wakes on a fishing ship at sea he’s riddled with bullets and empty of memory.  He has woken up in the middle of his own story but he can’t figure out what the plot is.  His amnesia about his beginning makes it hard for him to figure out the middle of his story let alone the end.  As he says to his new girlfriend Marie when they talk in a diner:

“I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?”

Why do we know the things we know?  Why do we thirst?  Why do we get lonely?  How do we recognize the color blue?  Why do we often drive people away when we most want them near?  Why do we like to dance?  Why do we yearn?  Why do we weep?  Why do we laugh?  Why do we get hungry?  Who are we?

In our lives we, like Paul here in Acts 21 sail for one destination.  We pass another.  We land in one port and stay a week.  We kneel and pray and say our farewells.  We move on. Some people meet us warmly.  Other people misunderstand us.  Some jump to conclusions.  Sometimes people yell at us.  They can attack.  They can look right at us and yet mistake us for other people. What’s the story?  What’s going on in all the details of our days?

“You are breaking my heart,” Saint Paul cries here when the believers beg him not to go to Jerusalem.  Paul already knew the end of his story.  God had told Paul he would be jailed in Jerusalem and die.  Paul accepted God’s plotline; he accepted God’s will.

For when the Author of our story gives us the plot, even the things that seem not to fit suddenly make sense.

God comes and speaks to each of us in our own language.  He speaks the hidden language of our hearts.  His word gives us the story we can sense in the rustle of every leaf and the bend of every flower.  Once upon a time, God was Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  One day, an evil villain led a rebellion against the author of time.  The villain wanted to be God. The villain was banished.  God created our world.  He made us in His image.  The villain came to our world to steal, kill and destroy.  The villain bound us in chains of pride.  The villain made us each captive to his lies about how we don’t need God or anyone else.  The villain told us each we could be God.  We sensed he was wrong but we were powerless to release ourselves.  We’d crossed the Rubicon and we couldn’t get back.  So God Himself came down to redeem us.  He set us free by dying for us on the cross.  He took the nails in his own hands to release the nails on each of our coffins.  That is the beginning of our story.

What we do next is up to us.  We can enter into God’s story.  Or we can remain in captivity and rebel against Him.  We break God’s heart when we turn our back on Him.  We make Him weep with joy when we return.

God always meets us warmly.  He never misunderstands us.  He never jumps to conclusions.  He never yells.  He never mistakes us for anyone else.  He always wants us to stay.  He wants us to enter back into our one true story, our real story, the story of how He longs to give us all the happily ever after we’ve always hoped for.  We’ll be restless plotless wanderers until the day we meet our author.  Once we’ve met Him, we’ll be marching down the pages of a timeless tale that speaks in every language to every heart of a plot engraved on the palms of God’s hands.

posted by Caroline Coleman in A Chapter a Day on January 10, 2013