A Greater Story

Father, what was life like for the first man and woman?”

“That is a good question, my child. In a word, life was good. There is a word in the ancient language that has been used to describe life for the first man and woman – shalom. It means pure goodness, wholeness, completeness. It is quite difficult to explain, but they felt at home – safe, secure, content, happy, at peace with each other, themselves, and their world. Words like bliss, euphoria, ecstasy, and nirvana are feeble attempts to describe the perfectness of life for them.

“Imagine, my child, that you have come to the end of a long and full life. Taking all the good memories you ever had, you gather them together, and compress them down into one singular moment. All of those wonderful experiences and feelings have now been joined together, and you are reliving them as one incredible, indescribable moment. Imagine how amazing that moment would be. Imagine how wonderful you would feel for that second.

“Now imagine you had the ability to extend that second and turn it into an hour, a day, weeks, months, and then years. Can you begin to imagine a life like that? But even then, it would still only be the smallest hint of a shadow of how good life was for the first man and woman.”

Listen, my child, and I will tell you of the King’s original intentions for mankind.

The home He created for the first man and woman was a sacred garden; a sanctuary for them to enjoy this world He had created for them; a place overflowing with life; a unique place of happiness, safety and peace. All they needed to survive and thrive was here–they had each other, fruits and vegetables were abundant and matured, and most importantly this was a place the Creator King frequented often. On more than one occasion, the King came and walked with them and told them of His intentions for them.

“My children when I created you, I put My image inside you. You are My image-bearers in this world. As I govern and rule all that is, both the seen and the unseen, so I have placed you here to rule. You are My governors, and You are to fill this world and rule over every aspect of it: the animals both great and small, the grounds and trees that produce food, even the waters and the skies in their movements.

“There is much for you to discover about yourselves and this world I have created for you. The whole world is for you to enjoy and explore, but this garden is to always be home for you, your children, and your children’s children. So long as you live under my rule, this will be your home, and I will walk with you and your descendants and provide for you and for them.”

The man and woman took the King’s words to heart. The man had given each of the animals a name, and with that name a purpose, and all the animals lived in harmony. The man and woman learned to rule well over the animals. They spoke to the earth and the trees, and food came forth. They spoke to the waters and the skies, and peace reigned over the whole earth.

These days were good. The man and the woman were discovering new things about themselves, and their love for each other grew. They kept no secrets from each other. They held back no feelings or thoughts but shared wholly and with full vulnerability.

They did not wear a stitch of clothing, but it never occurred to them they were naked. They had no sense of shame or fear. Their entire frame of reference for everything was only goodness.

What they did not know was that all was not good. All was not safe. A great evil existed in the cosmos and was coming their way…

A Greater Story

Listen, my child, and I will tell you of the Creator King.

Every great king has a palace, and so the “I AM” set to building a palatial temple in which He would be worshipped.

First, He took a blank canvas, unrolled it, and stretched it out before Himself. The largess of this canvas is far beyond our ability to comprehend. He spoke, and the canvas roiled and flexed like a living creature just awakened.

Beside this now-living canvas He had placed a great mass of burning light of various colors and shapes, and a great mass of dirt, both hard and soft, light and dark; and the King began to play. He stooped down low, picked up the tiniest piece of dirt from the pile and spoke to it, and it became our world.

He exhaled, and the tiny planet spun in the formless air of the canvas and became alive and vibrant. He created water and land, lightly pressing His fingertips to form mountains and rivers, canyons and islands, lakes and oceans.

Then, He took the light and the dirt and threw them here and there and everywhere, speaking life and purpose into them, and the blank canvas was transformed into a vast cosmos of stars and moons and comets and planets and meteor fields, galaxy upon majestic galaxy.

This cosmos was the temple-palace of the King. It was not to be his home, but it would be the center stage on which His story would be told. And just as a beautiful work of art brings prestige to the artist, so this temple-palace existed to give glory, honor and praise to the Creator King.

Pleased with His work so far, the King turned His attention back to our world. This place, this obscure speck of a dot hidden on the vast map of the universe, was where He would now fix His spotlight, where His grand narrative would be fleshed out.

The blue planet was alive but not yet teeming with life. It was time to make it so. The King spoke and filled the waters with swimming creatures both small and great, the air with flying creatures both small and great, and likewise the whole earth with earth-bound creatures.

This is our world, and it was coming to life. A symphony of musical sounds emanated from these newly made creatures as they recognized and worshipped their Creator King. The ocean waves and the mountain peaks rose and humbly bowed before the King, and the stars in the heavens danced to the glory of the King.

And then they paused. All of creation held its’ breath and turned its’ attention to the Creator and what He was about to do. He stooped down low again, thrusting His fingers deep into the dirt, pulling up a handful of rich, brown mud.

There, in His palm, He formed the shape of a Son of Earth. Then bringing His mouth down close to the lifeless mud-man, He breathed a long, rushing wind into and throughout the formed mud. Like a sunrise painting the sky with color, awakening the day and calling forth life, this breath was like an electric shock that traveled throughout the form, creating life where a second ago there had only been dirt.

Mouth opened, chest heaved, and a tremor passed through the Son of Earth. Eyes opened and looked around, squinting and blinking in the sunlight, taking in shapes as they came into focus. Muscles flexed, toes and fingers wiggled, legs and arms stretched and back arched. The Son of Earth sat up and all of creation recognized here was the Creator’s grand masterpiece, the crème de la crème of all He had made. Here was one bearing the very image of the Creator King…

A Greater Story

Listen, my child, and I will tell you about the King.

The one thing you must know about this King is His name, and once you know His name, you will begin to understand who He is. Names give meaning, and the name He has given Himself tells us everything we need to know about Him.

He calls Himself “I AM.”

A highly unusual name to be sure, and one quite difficult to understand. But He has given us a trail of bread crumbs that lead us to the bountiful table of what His name means and who He truly is, and I gladly share with you, my child, a few bread crumbs I have stumbled across…

There are questions that burn in the heart of every man, woman, and child. These questions have been placed there by the King. The greatest of these is “Can You see me?” and is closely followed by “Can I see You?”

When you were just an infant, you loved to play “Hide and Seek.” You would cover your eyes with your hands and giggle incessantly as I searched for you. Once, I tried to keep you giggling by pretending I could not see you even after you said “Here I am!”

I looked past you and to either side of you, asking where you were. But you did not like this game. You grew agitated and believed I could no longer see you, and you began to cry.

I ran to you, picked you up and held you tight. I whispered to you, “I see you. I have you. I am right here.”

The cry coming from the depth of our hearts is to be seen and known by the King as we truly are, and to see Him in the same way.

The great “I AM” is to us invisible, but He has gone to the greatest of lengths to make Himself visible to us. The very essence of His name means He is real, that He is the most real, nothing and no one is more real, He is the highest reality.

His name means that even though He may be unseen and unfelt, He is real and He is here. Even though we do not see Him, He sees us and His knowledge of us is intimate.

He whispers to us, “I see you. I have you. I am right here.”

The great mystery of the “I AM” is that He is the most real and the most present, yet He is the hardest to find. I will teach you, my child, to see the King. To see the King who sees you…

A Greater Story

What is the gospel? Isn’t it more than just some facts that can get us to heaven? What is the larger context of the story in which Jesus the God-man enters our world to die that we may live? Are we missing some pieces (potentially critical pieces) by focusing almost exclusively on the crucifixion of Jesus as the entirety of the gospel?

I want my kids to know that this “Christianity thing” is more than just making a decision and getting a ticket to heaven. I want them to see the whole story and to have their imaginations so caught up in the story that they fall head over heels in love with this Jesus character, and He revolutionizes their lives.

This is my attempt at retelling a greater story.

Listen, my child, and I will tell you a story.

The story I will tell you is full of beauty: life and true love and undying hope, yet sadly also full of wretchedness: betrayal and corruption and destruction. This story will break you into a thousand pieces, then just as quick breathe new life into your lifeless heart.

It more than covers the vast expanse of human emotion and experience, and the fullness of it will be beyond your comprehension, even your imagination. It is The Story in which all stories find their place and their meaning, and within this story lies the secret of life…

and the secret of you.

We begin where all stories begin: “In the beginning,” but not with a ‘What’ or a ‘When’ or a ‘Where,’
but with a ‘Who…’

Pure Speculation

When God questioned Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit, what do you think might have happened if instead of pointing the finger, they had ‘fessed up and repented? Could things have turned out differently?

Alas, we’ll never know. Just some pure speculation.