Stories comprise the thread that holds humanity together.
History reminds us of the past—giving context to our present and purpose to our future.
For centuries, people have gathered together to hear these stories—around a fire in the midst of a camp, around a hearth in a home, around steaming mugs of coffee in the corner café.
As humans, we’re drawn to stories. It’s a shared trait. We seek them out, spend money, and sacrifice time to hear them and watch them…
…but what about living them?
Stories resonate so strongly with us because they reflect two universal pursuits that drive every person:
- The desire to uncover the unknown.
- The pursuit and protection of love.
The desire to uncover the unknown: Mystery is what motivates us.
We all dislike movies where you can spot the outcome from a mile away. (It’s one of the reasons I will never watch the movie Titanic. I know the ship goes down and I’ve heard that there was a little extra room on that raft, Rose.) Mystery shows dominate primetime TV and our Netflix queues.
Our careers also thrive on mystery—uncovering the next major scientific discovery, predicting that next juggernaut stock investment, discovering a revolutionary way to reach consumers, or realizing ways to craft a better future. Whether or not we realize it, we actively take on the unknown every day.
The unknown is perhaps humanity’s greatest fear. We hedge against it. We do whatever we can to have contingency plans. For centuries, people have searched for the meaning of life—what they perceive to be one of the greatest uncertainties-and for the most part, they have been disappointed by their theories, speculation, and summation of their discoveries.
A moment of honesty here—I’ve been tackling the unknown in almost every part of my life for a few weeks now, personally and professionally. I’ve crafted contingency plans to watch them fall apart days—even moments—later. At first, I found myself paralyzed by these unknowns. To an extent, I even grew frustrated with God and blamed Him for tearing away my supports one by one until it felt like I was left teetering in the middle. I wanted to uncover my unknowns—to put my own plans in place so that I felt protected, to bring my future into the daylight so I could step with assurance.
Today, these unknowns have not yet been revealed; the lights have not yet come up on these future plans and certainties. At most, it’s a spotlight shining ahead of me, leading me on a step-by-step basis.
But, I have discovered the meaning of life with certainty. The mystery of life is only uncovered in the mystery of God. A God who loves us desperately. Leading us to our next pursuit…
The pursuit and protection of love.
Love is perhaps the most elusive pursuit to the majority of humans, and the acquisition and retention of love is one of the biggest mysteries we seek to solve as a society.
We seek acceptance, affection, and belonging—whether it’s through what we earn, the accomplishments we secure, the people we date or the trips we take. We all want to find someone who loves us, and be doing things that we love. We want our love to be reciprocated and we want to protect the love we’ve found, when we’ve found it.
What and who we love often gives us purpose. Many feel that somehow, it directly relates to the meaning of life—perhaps is the meaning of life. It takes us back to that mystery of life—that unknown that we seek to uncover.
Again, the mystery of life can only be discovered in the mystery of God.
What is this mystery? To me, it’s the love and beauty only found in the Gospel—that the almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator, Ruler, and Sustainer of the universe cares so intimately about me. That He always has since the beginning of time. That He loved me so desperately that He didn’t want a future without me, so He came down to my world—took my shame, sin, and died in my place so that I can live with Him. Even if that were all He had done, it would be enough to merit my lifelong service and gratefulness. But, it’s not—He gives me purpose, He gives me freedom, He brings blessings I can’t begin to describe and guides my step through each storm. In this Great Mystery—one of how such a mighty God could love us this much—I find my meaning, I find my purpose.
He knows all of my unknowns, and He knows exactly how they will be worked out. Nothing is unknown to Him. There’s no point where He says, “Man, I didn’t see THAT coming. Don’t know how we’re going to get through this now.” Nothing is a surprise to Him. He loves us so much that He’s intimately concerned with the details of our lives (Matthew 6:25-34), and wants us to give our unknowns to Him so we can live life confidently, to the full, and with freedom instead of fear.
This is my story. His is my story.
“If I told you my story, you would hear hope that wouldn’t let go.
If I told you my story, you would hear love that never gave up.
If I told you my story, you would hear life, but it wasn’t mine.
If I told you my story, you would hear victory over the enemy.
If I told you my story, you would hear freedom that was won for me.
If I should speak, then let it be of the grace that is greater than all my sins.
Of when justice was served, and when mercy wins.
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in.
To tell you my story is to tell of Him.
This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior, all the day long.”