What’s the Story?

My husband’s a big fan of the American actor/comic Will Ferrell.

A few months ago we watched one of his films, ‘Stranger than Fiction’. In it, Ferrell plays a guy who realises that he’s not who he thought he was, an ordinary bloke. Instead, he discovers that he is actually a character in a book. The book is being written by a best-selling author and in a bid to overcome her writer’s block, she plans to kill him off. The film deals with his attempts to avoid the fate that’s being written for him.

In a similar way, our lives are like books – with different chapters, common themes, turning points and sometimes, unexpected endings. The Lord authors our lives (Acts 3:15), but this is something we often forget, or choose to ignore. Instead we want to write our own narratives, often with ourselves as the central, or only characters.

What sort of a story are you in? Is it a comedy? Or a tragedy? Melodrama? Or a Weepie? Are you a cynical, world-weary narrator, slightly detached from everything and everyone? Or a hopeless romantic, seeing life as a series of wonderful possibilities? Are you well-known, successful – a bestseller? Or a tatty, overlooked paperback?

Open the book up again. Where and who are you? Describe yourself. Who are the other characters? What are they like – heroes or villains? Now, pick one of them. How would they tell this story? What would they say about you?

Conflict is at the heart of all good stories. Characters come up against obstacles that can seem insurmountable and have the power to completely change the course of the book. Where are the conflicts in your story? The challenges? The turning points?

When I was younger I used to love those books where you could pick your own ending. That way, when I took a wrong turning and my character died, I could always go back and redo it, having learnt from my mistakes. What mistakes would you change in your life? What ending would you pick for yours? If nothing changes, what ending do you think it will have?

Sometimes we are tempted to dismiss our lives as meaningless, or to beat ourselves up for the mistakes that we have made. We think that we’re the only scriptwriters, working overtime on a series that might not even make the first pilot. But the truth is more stunning than the greatest Holywood blockbuster.. Our lives do matter, because they are part of a bigger message – with an incredible Lord at the centre. His story is the most thrilling, heartbreaking and incredible narrative ever told – and amazingly, we are part of it. We already know the ending – and it is glorious and full of hope.

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