I love stories.
Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re tragic, and other times they are simply miraculous. No matter what genre the story fits into they usually start the same way: introducing the character. Your friend begins with, “Do you know…..”. Sometimes the response is a resounding, “Yes, that’s one of my really good friends!” But it’s been my experience that usually it’s along the lines of the all too familiar Hope college response: “Well I know of him”, “I know who you are talking about, keep on going”, “Oh, I’ve heard a lot about her but I don’t think we have actually met”, “I know the name…” or my favorite, “Well, we’re facebook friends so I know who you’re talking about”.
Any of the above responses usually keeps the conversation wet enough to squeeze into the story phase. When the story is complete we feel satisfied. We experience the sweetness of the story. Your mind and heart feel closer to the person who shared the story. The story was good, even though the character was not well known. Having no idea of the habits, the quirks, the uniqueness of the character, you go away content having the story down.
What happens when you know the person?
You understand their habits, you can picture them laughing, see them singing, imagine them making a fool of themselves, remember what their tears look like. Deeper still, you know their flaws, their strengths, their past; you not only see the ripples but know the boulder that caused them. When you hear, or tell the story your mind is filled with images; images of the past, of previous stories, of similarites, of growth, of pain, of joy. Your head instinctively nods with each curve of the story. It’s so familiar. Your grin, tears, or laugther are enhanced not because of the story but because of the character. You know this person. You love this person. This story pushes you beyond the wall of satisfaction. You dive well bellow the shallow waters of mere contentment, pushing into the radical. The story evokes emotions that rely both on the past and the present.
As I hear the laughter in the pine grove, smell the battle of spring and summer, and feel the sun on my arm, I can’t help but think about the story of my God. I wonder how many times my friends tell me stories about His work and I provide just enough knowledge to squeeze the conversation out? I think of how big and wonderful God’s boulder is. How the ripples would cause the heartbroken to rejoice, the tired to gain strength, and the hopeless to rise, if they knew the boulder. If they knew the perfect edges, the soft corners, the strength, the life, the promises that are etched in the very being of the rock. This knowledge provokes unmatched strength and hope. When His promises are painted on our hearts, the greatness comes from not just the present story, but the glorious past, and the promised future.
I desire to know God’s character. I want to know his whisper, I want to recognize His beauty, I want to know Him. Knowledge of His past and future promises provide the pillars in the crusty and crumbling ceilings of our lives. His character allows us to have a true foundation. He desires to pull the grins wider, make the laughs bellow, and instill hope in every tear. Our God wants to be known.