Okay so, if you have an aversion to Biblical Greek, or have been on a facebook fast, or thought the world might end on December 21st and are still taking refuge in your 50 year fall-out shelter, let me remind you about this thing called Zeteo.
There’s this thing called Zeteo.
It’s a winter retreat in Gettysburg put on by Salt ‘n Light (aka those weird people who run around in fish and penguin costumes and have a near but not quite unhealthy fascination with dubstep.) Anyway, the theme of said retreat is EPICS, and EPICS is my fancy shmancy Christie Miller verbiage for what others would call…a good story.
So as would be expected, we’ve all been sitting around twiddling our thumbs, drinking ginger ale and watching an occasional episode of some over-produced reality show, looking for some kind of inspiration…
We have been living and breathing and exploring and researching and telling STORIES. So many stories. And if you live and breathe stories, you start to notice some things. I’ve started to notice that when you look at your life as a story–even more as a story where God’s involved— your whole perspective begins to shift. Stick with me a second here.
Imagine sitting in your school library and you see a kid struggling with his math homework. This is a kid you to whom you wouldn’t normally speak. Maybe he’s not in your crowd. Maybe he’s the star quarterback. Maybe he smells weird. Maybe he made fun of you every day in the 5th grade. But you find yourself thinking, “I had that math class. I’m pretty good at math.Oh no, I should probably see if I could help.” Now, you are faced with a couple of options.
1. You can shrug it off and continue what you were doing.
2. You could stand in the same spot, looking nervously over your shoulder, thinking that you should probably go help but take the entire period warring with yourself instead.
3. You could spontaneously break into song while the cast of high school musical appears with Kenny Ortega-esque choreography and does a library number dedicated to the foundational principles of Pre-calculus.
4..You could take a deep breath and ask if he wants help.
Now, someone who doesn’t necessarily see their life as a story, might just shrug it off and forget about it. Somebody who does, might shrug it off…but wonder.
And that’s the thing I keep coming back to with Zeteo: how ordinary choices are what change the story. Think about it. Every time Jesus walked into a situation, he made a choice. And granted, he did do miraculous things, but he also did ordinary things. Speaking to the woman at the well. Inviting the cheaters and the beggars and the outcasts to eat with him. Laughing and praying with little kids. Seeing people who everyone else overlooked. Speaking truth to people…when it was easy and when it was hard. Giving to those who needed. Walking on the road, talking with his friends, and listening…always listening.
I’ve been thinking about these stories, and wondering what happened to some of these ordinary people after they had an encounter with Jesus. That boy with the five loaves and two fishes. The girl he raised form the dead. The woman he saved from stoning. The rich young ruler. What about those guys on the road to Emmaus, who’s eyes were opened and their hearts set on fire? The guy selling his wares where Jesus turned tables in the temple?
We don’t know. We don’t know how ordinary moments with Jesus changed the direction of so many stories. So, let’s go back to my example. Someone who sees their life as a story, as something bigger than themselves, doesn’t see challenges or opportunities as scary, they see them as a chance for their faith to grow–a chance to see the story turn for them…or someone else.
Because if I’ve got God on my side and he’s asking me to do something, then it’s a good thing to do. And true, I don’t know what will happen if you approach that kid. It could be awkward or strange. It could lead to a really cool conversation. Sometimes you just don’t know, but the important thing is to live as though your choice in this part of the story can affect it. Because God sees the big picture; we see in part.
This morning, I was writing about how something unexpected had happened and had thrown me through a loop. At the time, I’d been upset and frustrated about it. But as I wrote in my journal, I started chuckling to myself while scribbling:
“And so the plot thickens.”
And I couldn’t help smiling, because now this monster of a problem was just a chance for my faith to grow and for God to move. Suddenly, I understood what I’d been preaching through my own dramas. When we look at our lives as stories, both the hard things and the easy things are an opportunity to turn an ordinary character into a hero. They’re a chance to view life as something more than just getting by.
My friend Bekah Dincher told me something I will never forget. She mentioned the story of Joseph of Arimathea and how it’s written in Mark that, “Joseph, who was himself waiting for the coming of the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate ask for Jesus’ body.” Mark 15:43. Bekah said she couldn’t stop thinking about him. How this man, who had his hope in Jesus as the one to bring in the Kingdom, was now boldly asking for the dead body of the one in whom he believed.
Think about that. His faith had to have been crushed, yet even then he was BOLD. He moved forward. This was someone who had faith unaffected by his natural instincts. He had the courage to see a bigger story than what was in front of him. He acknowledged reality, and had the audacity to still believe in something MORE.
That’s a real hero: taking an ordinary moment and doing something extraordinary with it. Seeing things beyond how they look. Staring your greatest fears and insecurities and lies in the face with a smile and whispering, “And so the plot thickens.” Because if God’s writing the story, the plot can thicken and twist and bend all it wants…
nothing can stop us.
So go ahead. Tell yours.