‘Call unto me, and I will answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know’ ~ Jeremiah 33:3
One only needs to look around and see that God is a creative. The variety and species around us realize this fact. Truly, the world is God’s story for, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1). Or to put it as many stories do, Once upon a time, God created . . . The six-day creation story, however, did not end there. God left each creation with a story to carry along and that is why ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour fourth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the earth’ (Psalm 19:1-4). When Job tried to find a trace of God and could not because of his distress, God marvels at this. When He finally spoke to Job, it is as if He asks, ‘Haven’t you been listening to the stacks of stories that are right before you?’ For at one point, God tells Job to ‘Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. He ranks first among the works of God, yet his Maker can approach him with his sword’ (Job 40:15-19). God literally ‘teaches more to us by the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser by the birds of the air’ (35:v11), yet few ever pay attention to His stories. ‘But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker’ (v10).
Many struggles that we face in life can be eliminated when we choose to listen to God’s stories, like children sitting around a fireplace listening to Grandparents telling stories. Or like Mary ‘who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said’ (Luke 10:39). Her sister Martha was busy trying to make the atmosphere conducive for storytelling, not comprehending that it is stories that create the atmosphere, not the other way around. So, Jesus tells her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’ (v41-22). Atmospheres may change, but stories stick to one’s memory regardless of where they go to. That is why Jesus mostly used parables to pass across important truths. It is only those who were interested in Him, believed in Him, and paid attention to His words that could decipher the meaning of the parables. Those who continuously listened to Him could connect the dots, because a story is continuous. They did not settle to hearing one story and then jump to a conclusion, but followed Him consistently. They also watched His body language, because what are stories without expressions? Thus, Jesus tells us to, ‘Pay close attention to what you hear’ (Mark 4:24).
Many do not pay close attention, and so suffer with what they should not in the first place. This may be because they begin the story halfway or at the end, missing out the beginning that is most useful in setting the context to help one make meaning as the story unfolds. For instance, when it comes to our identity, we usually begin at the middle. We derive our identity from our familial ties, our environment, and other things we happen to grow up around. The problem with this is that when we find ourselves in chaotic environments, all hell starts to break loose. We find that our identity is now marred and we do not know who we are anymore. We see our end as hopeless, useless, and every other –less we can think of. But that is because we began the story at the middle. If we took the time to listen to the Beginning, we would know that ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27). Going to the beginning, we realize that we are ‘God’s offspring’ (Acts 17:29), and that our parents were mere channels He used to bring us to the world. That is why Jesus asks, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother‘ (Matthew 12:48-50). So, if we follow and obey Jesus, then we have the creative power to speak new stories that are in line with the Word. ‘I (Jesus) will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound on heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven‘ (16:v19). So, the environment (atmosphere) we find ourselves in does not matter, rather it is the stories we choose to listen and believe. That is why Jesus did not concern Himself too much about His lineage, because He knew His real origin and so says, ‘I am from above’ (John 8:23). In the same way, if we took time to listen, we would trace our true identity from above and that ‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the Heavenly realms in Christ Jesus‘ (Ephesians 2:6). So, ‘Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?‘ (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Those who look for their origin in other places are in for dire disappointments. Some look within, while others without. Using the measure of creative power God gave us all, they form their own stories which are contrary to God’s. They do not realize that the image of God must be in harmony with God, just like a mirror reflects the image of our being. ‘Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I (God) blessed him and made him many‘ (Isaiah 51:2). Some, however, take pains to give birth to themselves by creating other stories outside of God’s Word and will. They disapprove their gender, their identity, their looks, and even existence of God all together. Using their stories, they come into direct rebellion with God, just like Satan did. They use their creative power to deceive themselves and operate like the ‘father of lies’ (John 8:44). Such live out and even broadcast lies through ‘stories they have made up’ (2 Peter 2:3). They use theories, fables, and their own findings to counter all that is of God. They even go to lengths to conjure excuses that the Bible is not God’s Word, and instead vouch for other creeds. But just like there is only one Cinderella story, there will only be one God Story. The difference is that God’s stories are actually real. Of course, many now try to recreate stories written in their own ways, and from their imaginations. In the same measure, listeners will always be available. In fact, ‘to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from the truth and turn aside to myths’ (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The stories we listen to inform our worldview. Of the Israelites who embraced idol worship and turned from the truth, God observes that, ‘They are full of superstitions from the East; they practise divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans’ (Isaiah 2:6). As a result of the untrue and diabolical stories they heard and believed, the Israelites became just like the storytellers. Likewise, the more Believers listen to God’s stories, the more we become like Him, as our perception is changed to that of the Kingdom view. We also come to understand God stories well because we listen to the Beginning, and from the right Source, His Word. In one instance, when Jesus responded to the religious who drew their worldview from men’s traditions and culture, and not from God, He asks them, ‘Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one. Therefore, what God has put together, let not man put asunder’ (Matthew 19:4-6). Jesus takes them back to the beginning of the story to answer a controversial topic on divorce. But when we concoct stories that do not line up with the image of God, we separate ourselves from His harmony, being one with Him. Thus, a Believer looks at the beginning in all things to inform their worldview, because Jesus who is ‘the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End‘ (Revelation 22:13) is the author of the creation story, human story, and love story. God is indeed the ultimate storyteller.
‘It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing: the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe’ ~ John 6:63
‘Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, ‘This is the resting-place, let the weary rest’; and, ‘This is the place of repose’ – but they would not listen. So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there – so that they will go and fall backwards, be broken, and snared, and captured‘ ~ Isaiah 28:11-13
‘One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that power belongs to God, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done‘ ~ Psalm 62:11-12