If there is one thing I found immensely interesting about Christianity before even becoming a Christian, it was the creativity of the stories in the bible. As a child I saw them as nothing more than mere fairy tales with a moral just like any other fable. While I have grown to see the complexity, spiritual value, historical basis and truth in these stories, I still find them fascinatingly creative. What more could I expect from a God who is first and foremost a creator. As a film student I had always been amazed at how interesting life events can be, and was taught that the best stories are the ones that draw from real life experiences. There are also stories in life that are so heart wrenching, so tragic, circumstances that seem impossible that still, in a thread however small and hard to see are woven with the love and grace of God.
In all my own creative works I strive to make something that will speak to people, draw on their personal experiences and feelings, and just maybe provide them with an escape from their reality and ultimately with just that little bit of hope and inspiration. A personal motto of mine is ‘I create, because He first Created”, and I strive always to create stories with depth, and characters and worlds that are not only interesting but are filled with emotion and relatability. While it has been obvious to me that these are qualities that I needed in my own creative works to give them weight and power, I never once stopped to think that maybe that’s what God does in creating His own works. Maybe I needed to look a little deeper at my own motto and discover a little bit more about what it means.
You need only look at the bible in its entirety, an amazing account of God’s plan for man’s redemption and reconciliation, to see an immensely complex and perfectly woven story filled with characters who are real people and who collectively represent every facet of the human condition. If you can grasp the fact that there is power in these God breathed stories that can be taken and applied to your life, how much more in your own personal stories and struggles that God can use to bring change in someone else’s life. This can absolutely be hard to do, in fact sometimes it seems impossible. I speak from experience when I say there have been trials and mountains that I have faced that seem impossible to move or overcome. There are times when there is so much going on in our personal lives that we become stuck in our tragic stories and can’t see far beyond what is directly in front of us. In essence, we lose faith in the Author, and we do this because we struggle to believe or see that there is any purpose or potential in our trials.
I recently went to a special church event where the subject was overcoming by faith. Now ashamedly I can say that I had a bit of an ‘oh yeah, walk by faith not sight, heard this before’ mentality when it first started. Thankfully though as the message progressed God humbled me and broke something in me that allowed this word to really speak to a number of questions I had been wrestling with. A pastor was giving a testimony of his life, and what a story. First his mother passed away of cancer, then his second child passed away at birth, his fourth child is again born premature and passes away after a few months, to top it off his wife after the trauma of losing two children was hospitalised after having a breakdown. I looked around at faces in that auditorium and I saw tears, looks of shock, and people trying really hard to reconcile how so much tragedy could befall one man. This pastor’s story was powerful, and affected so many people in that room, it was able to shift my focus from my problems and give me real breakthrough in certain areas of my life. Not to mention what it must have done for any of the other fifty or so people who went down to the altar after the message to receive prayer, and I’m confident breakthrough in their own trials.
Aside from the breakthrough spiritually I received from that message, there was a lesson that I learned that was also extremely valuable to me. It started with a question: If as a writer one of your characters jumped off your page and told you how to finish your story how would you feel? This question really altered my perspective and was able to take me outside of my circumstances. Story, testimony whatever you want to call it, our lives and faith have an author and a finisher (Hebrews 12:2) who, in allowing trials to come into our lives and through weaving amazing stories for us to live, makes us people with refined characters, depth and relatability that are able to touch someone else with a similar experience, or simply by the perseverance of our faith. There is such power and potential in this. We need only look to the gospel and the story of Jesus to see how God can bring resurrection out of trauma and tragedy. As expressed in scripture, we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. (Rev 12:11)
The reality is all believers and followers of Christ have been given a mandate to build His Kingdom and display Him to the world. In some instances it can mean that we are the only bible that another person may ever read. If we stop, take our eyes off ourselves and our problems and consider how if maybe an outsider in observing our story can see Christ, just as the church that night saw Him in the story of that pastor, then maybe, just maybe the Author knows what He’s doing. Let’s have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, and trust Him.