In a recent article for the Telegraph, Chris Evans wrote about the importance of reading to your children. Cajoled into it by his wife, Natasha, he started the journey into words allowing his children to discover what, as he wrote, he missed as a child: the simple truth that words build pictures, pictures tell stories and stories provide meaning.
Stories are really important – and what’s more, we are all both reading and writing them – not always in books, but all around us, every day. They are important since through them we come to both understand ourselves and others; they give life meaning, purpose and context in a way that biology, physics and chemistry on their own simply can’t. Chemistry may give the answers to why your body functions in a particular way but it doesn’t give meaning to that body. For this we need story.
What’s more, we need a Big Story – one that can embrace us all, or at least extend the offer of embrace. We need what some would call a meta narrative, a big story that makes sense of the lots of little stories you and I live each day. What the big story offers is the meaning I search for inside my own. It gives security, meaning, purpose and a whole lot more.
So where to go in order to find this Big Story? Let’s start with Faith.
Faith offers big story solutions. Are you lost inside your own self-pity, helplessness, fear… Stop and look out, you need a bigger story than your own emotional state. Are you trapped by illness, hemmed in by depression, lost on life’s journey for purpose; you need a bigger story than your own frame of reference. The big story introduces us to God.
But let’s be more specific. Faith in the Jesus story is the big story of the Bible.
Jesus enters the meta narrative through infancy – the story grows both with him and through him. It comes of age at his baptism, dies at Golgotha, but the story comes back to life in a garden, a place of new beginnings and the story itself is declared indestructible. Death cannot destroy the story.
For me, this matters. I need a story that is not simply bigger than me, but also bigger than my fears – and, of equal, if not greater importance, bigger than my questions. Here, inside God’s story I find both security and mystery. God’s story embraces me with a love that ties it all together. I find my way from this story and my purpose within it. I place my confidence in it not because I am persuaded to believe, but that without it, I simply struggle to find a place of solace and peace that brings value to the story of my own life.