Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reading backwards

Started to read Dan Allender's book To be Told.

Instead of a search for personal fulfilment through finding oneself in a 1960's kind of way, To Be Told encourages us to listen the the narrative of our our lives in order to see God at work. From there we can engage in the process of coauthoring our future with God.

I'm' only at the beginning of the book, but what caught my attention was this quote:

God is constantly writing our story, but he doesn't send us the next chapter to read in advance. Instead we all read backwards–finding the meaning in our stories as we read what God has already written.

Interesting inasmuch as it would seem to me that our present culture is much more predisposed to story, to narrative, than was the culture in which I grew up. During my early years we were still living in the light of the scientific era where propositions and theories ruled. Understanding one's life was about fitting one's experiences into a predefined model. But now it seems that we are more willing to allow the story to unfold and to provide the parameters, the shape.

And yet there is one more twist. We still want life to have meaning and value and therefore we still look for purpose, direction and significance. Which in turn always brings me back to my favourite phrase from Colossians: The reality however is found in Christ.

Equally, Allender's point of looking backwards runs almost counter to our desire to know what comes next. How often have you heard someone say, or said it yourself, "If only God would tell me what to do?" Not in a question for direction and guidance but as a desire to know the details of the next year or month or two at the very least. Fixated on the idea of some divine blueprint for our lives, we are desperate for revelation.

But I think the point of To be Told is that in many ways we should give up the search for the blueprints and choose instead to partner with God in the writing of our story. Informed by the past we can move more confidently into the unknown future, knowing all the time that God is in the unfolding narrative.

Anyway, the book looks interesting and I will blog more about it as I process it.

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