A Story Worth Telling

Frederick Buechner quote

The Christian faith … is not a theological idea or a religious system. It is a series of largely flesh-and-blood events that happened, are happening, will happen in time and space. For better or worse, it is a story.

It is well to remember because it keeps our eyes on the central fact that The Christian faith always has to do with flesh and blood, time and space, more specifically with your flesh and blood and mine, with the time and space that day by day we are all of us involved with, stub our toes on, flounder around in trying to look as if we have good sense. In other words, the truth that Christianity claims to be true is ultimately to be found … not in the Bible, or the church, or theology — the best they can do is point to the truth—but in our own stories.

If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up.

It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling. ~ Frederick Buechner

What we all hope, I think, is that eventually … somehow … we have a story worth telling. We create a story worth telling. But so often what we fail to see is that the story is being created, written, today. This moment. In the meeting that lasts far too long or in the child who wakes up far too early on a weekend (and wakes everyone else in the household). In the perfect job that downsizes unexpectedly or the perfect relationship that is suddenly far from perfect. In the gray-eyed man holding a cardboard sign on a wintry day.

All part of a story. Your story. My story. What is being told? What is being written down?

What am I writing? Do I even recognize it as a story? Or a random jumble of experiences? Sorrows and joys. Meaningless and coincidental. It takes no skill to let the days fly past, turn the pages of the calendar, switch off the alarm and stumble into the morning without recognizing the story unfolding.

But then something happens. A sunburst of sorrow. Or a moonlit moment of magic. And suddenly the words are clear. And the Voice Who speaks them.

But only for an instant. As if a veil was lifted … just for your eyes to see. Just for that moment to experience.

But something about it lingers. A thread hemming the days that continue to fly past. They’re not meaningless, the sorrows and the joys. It is a story. A thousand stories. A million. And yet one. Overarching and underwriting every moment. Every experience.

And in them all, God is present. Or seeks to be. And that presence makes every story worth the telling.

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