When our oldest son was about four years old, I sat down to watch a movie some friends had recommended. Not too far into the story, the plot took a turn I wasn’t expecting. A child was tragically killed in a farming accident. The horror hit home and anxiety choked my heart. I didn’t even finish the movie.
Sometime I can watch movies and enjoy the ups and downs of the plot. But other times, a story affects me deeply, personally. The threads of its plot reach out and weave their way into the fabric of my emotions. Within the hour I had called a friend—to talk, to think, to get his counsel. I needed it, because I was gripped with fear. What if something like that happened to us? I love my son so much—how could I ever handle that kind of tragedy?
I don’t remember a lot about that conversation. I’m sure I explained, with some embarrassment, how much I had been affected by a story on a screen. And I’m sure that my friend listened. He’s that kind of friend. But I will never forget what he said to me: “Champ, the Lord loves your son . . . more than you do.”
That’s what I needed to hear. That was the real storyline of life. That’s what was really going on, always going on, even when I had forgotten. Even when I had lost the plot.
Don’t Lose Sight of the Storyline
When I was growing up, my father used to remind me almost every time he dropped me off somewhere, “Remember who you belong to.” Belong to.
The great story of life and the great drama of Scripture is that God is pursuing his people to make them his own. “We are his—his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3, CSB). We belong to him, and the story of how he made us his own fills the pages of God’s Word and the years of our lives.
When fear grips my heart, I’ve lost the story. I’ve let another storyline of possibilities grab my attention. A subplot has filled the horizon of my awareness and shoved the real plot to the margins.
This happens in lots of ways. The volume of the real story—of God’s love for us, of our belonging to the Creator and Redeemer—gets turned down when we allow any aspect of our experience to shape a narrative of our own making. When we project a tragedy in the making. When we think we have everything under control. When we know what we want and nothing’s going to stop us. Or when it seems that life will never be sunny again.
Keep Truth in Front of You
In all these scenarios, we’ve forgotten the real story. And in his Word, God has given us countless reminders of the Story he is writing. We are part of the same narrative begun in Genesis that has woven through the fabric of redemptive history. If God was patient then, he is patient now. If he was compassionate and reliable then, he will be again. If his timing was surprising but perfect in the past, the same is true today.
In his Word, God invites us to rediscover our place in the Story he writing even to this day. One way to find our place in the drama of Scripture is to imagine ourselves as one of the characters in the stories we read in the Gospels. When Thomas doubts, we identify. When Peter speaks without fear and without wisdom, we understand. When a father or mother pleads on behalf of a child, we associate. The Gospels provide mini-stories within which we can and should locate the story of our own lives.
Yet if the Gospels offer short stories, those four biblical books are mere chapters in the Great Story spanning Genesis to Revelation. From Creation to New Creation, the Great Author of Scripture is gathering a people for himself. Through Jesus, he is restoring everything that sin had ruined. And, through the story of this cosmic reconciliation, he is displaying the brilliance of his love and might.
See Your Story with Fresh Eyes
For some of us, like jaded tour guides of the Grand Canyon, it’s too easy to read the breathtaking stories of Scripture without being gripped. They’re so familiar, they seem distant. So I love when we can read the Bible with fresh eyes. When we can stand in the sandals of those who struggled and belonged to God before us. It’s my hope that The Serpent Slayer and the Scroll of Riddles might help readers, even those in middle school, get inside the story of the Bible so that the drama of the Bible can get inside of them.
With the same pen he used to write the Great Story, the Author is writing your story. In God’s Word, we see the same strokes of the pen as he uses in our lives.
When Adam and Eve face temptation in the Garden, we see how they came to question the goodness of God. The tempter still hides his hook with the same bait.
When Pharaoh opposed God’s people and sought to oppress them, God’s people cried out for help and rescue. To this day, God still hears the desperate cries of his people.
When Goliath defamed God’s name and overwhelmingly intimidated God’s people, one man defeated the enemy and enabled the people to fight. It wasn’t the last time that one Man represented God’s people, delivered them, and gave them the ability to resist evil.
And when Jesus came, he faced the tempter, answered prayers of desperation, and defeated our greatest enemies—sin, death, and the devil. The Serpent who seemed to triumph in his deceit about the forbidden tree found certain defeat in the truth of the accursed Tree. Jesus crushed the Serpent’s heel, but not in a way that was expected. He overcame our enemies, not by taking life, but by giving his own. He sacrificed his life in love to forgive the undeserving. And in this his people not only find mercy for our sin, but a model for our story.
Our story, the chapters that compose our lives, finds meaning when we read the Story of the whole Bible. And when we keep our finger on this Great Story, the Lord helps us navigate the messy and disappointing and scary pages of our lives.
The Serpent Slayer and the Scroll of Riddles
The Serpent Slayer and the Scroll of Riddles is a time travel adventure with a twist—middle school students will discover theological themes as they travel through God’s Word. By placing the characters into Bible events, Champ Thornton and Andrew Naselli show the Bible is far from being a boring book full of instructions. Readers will discover life-changing truths they’ll never forget.