Life As A Story

I was going to write about my trip to San Francisco last weekend, but I don't think I can really find all the words to describe the experience. So instead of talking about that, I will use the trip as an illustration for something else.

I'm finishing an excellent book right now. It's called A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, and it's written by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller. The premise of the book is rather hard to explain. Simply put though, he relates life to a narrative or story as he describes the process in which he had to translate his own life into a screenplay for a movie. He argues that life, like a story, can be either a good "story" or a bad one. We can choose what kind of story our life is going to be by determining how we use the days we've been given. At the same time, as a Christian, our story is somehow part of a larger Story, going back to Christ's death and resurrection.

But this idea intrigued me...while we do enjoy reading good stories, and watching good stories both in the theatre and on TV, how many of us actually LIVE good stories? What are we doing right now that is memorable, that will be ultimately lasting when we have faded from this world?

Let me tie this into my recent trip to San Francisco. I had absolutely no reason to go to San Francisco, other than my desire to go. There was no great need to drive 5 hours north. But I did it. I decided that seeing a friend there was worth it, that a weekend spent in a city that was completely unfamiliar and unknown to me would be something good for my own well-being. I hardly put any thought into the trip, actually. And it turned out that it was indeed good for me. I discovered once again what a beautiful gift life is, as I wandered through a metropolis filled with vibrant sights and sounds. I walked through Nature and was amazed at God's creation. I communed with close friends. The trip immediately became a milestone that I will always carry with me. But it never would have happened if I hadn't decided to just do it.

Fear can be such a crippling thing. Fear of the unknown, fear that things will just collapse if we try something that is somewhat risky. There is certainly justified fear, and we shouldn't immediately jump into something without giving it serious thought. But we can't be afraid to take leaps of faith. A leap of faith into a new experience might be something completely life changing.

This is what I consider, as I think about a possible move to the East Coast in a few years. As scary as the prospect of moving across the country is, it is also immeasurably thrilling. Exploring a place in which I am greatly interested in because of my historical interests is something quite exciting. I don't doubt that there will be difficulties along the way in getting from here to there, but will it be worth it? Most definitely.

I don't want to be someone who settles, simply because the dream is difficult. Life is difficult, and there's no getting around that. Donald Miller makes the valid argument in his book that when we chose Christ, we didn't get a cure-all solution to the hardships of life. Living involves hardship, and the hardship should be welcomed by us and not avoided. That isn't an easy thing. I haven't mastered it by any means. Like a story, life involves conflict. The greater the conflict, the greater the story...because as great as the conflict is, the reward will be even greater as we overcome the conflict. We are in a society that seems to want things quickly and with as little hardship as possible. But nothing worthwhile in this life is quick, easy, or free.

Can we pursue the hard things, and focus on the essentials in a world where distractions abound? I'm constantly distracted by so many things, but I think this is possible. In a crippled economy, nation, and world, our focus needs to be on the lasting things.