6-3-16 - The Story Beyond the Story

It’s fair to say that Jesus’ action in Nain, restoring life to a dead young man, had a big impact on those who witnessed it. They immediately attributed this event to God’s power at work in Jesus:

Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

The fact that Jesus had done this work in their midst was a sign that God had not forgotten them. In fact, it was a big clue to them that God was on the move among them. That is the story they spread, not only that something physically impossible had transpired before their very eyes, but that God’s power was manifest in Jesus of Nazareth.

When we have an experience of God, we sometimes focus on the experience itself, delighting in the gift or the power we’ve seen at work. That delight is a good and holy thing – and also a starting place. We are invited to look beyond that to what it tells us about the God who made us, loves us, and abides with us.

When we can cultivate that practice, setting our stories within the bigger story of God’s activity across time and space – and in our own lives – our faith muscles are built up. Then we don’t rise and fall with each victory and disappointment. We find ourselves on a steadier keel, making a more winsome witness to the people around us of what it means to dwell in God-Life.

This week I have invited us to contemplate where we have seen new life out of dead things, what we’ve seen revived. As we recall those gifts, and the God of love who lavishes them upon us, we can bring our prayers for what we would like to see revived into that larger story. God’s story is so much bigger than the life of that young man in Nain, and that of his mother. God’s story is so much bigger than the lives of those who witnessed that miracle and spread the word far and wide. God’s story is so much bigger than our churches and ministries and the containers we build to try to make sense of the mystery of God.

And yet this God with the big, big story gives life to our small stories, and invites us to see the vast in the intimate. Asking God to bless our stories – remembering they are not the whole story – is one way we come to understand the story God has spoken into being, which we see unfold only now. And now. And now. And... 

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