Narratives We Live By


What is the overarching narrative upon which you model your life?

Many of us, consciously or not, run our lives according to the the American Dream. If we get a good education, work hard, save our money, then we will rise in the world, leave a mark, and enjoy retirement looking back over our well lived lives.

Some people feel it’s their responsibility to fix injustices, oppression, discrimination, and problems of all sorts in this world. The world needs those people, and I wish there were more of them, but even if they could repair a tiny spot of the world, I’m sorry to say that it would eventually become wrecked again.

Others feel that this life is all there is, so their highest goal is to live it to the max. Fun, success, travel, money, and love are the end of their desires.

Of course, there are political narratives that also influence our lives. In the United States those narratives are growing more polarized and, in my opinion, absurd. Both the right and left have dug so deeply into their positions that their eyesight is now limited to the walls of the tunnels that they have bulldozed. Their idea of progress is to pitch more dirt over on the other side.

The narratives above presume my first world perspective, which makes me wonder how people in North Korea, Venezuela or in a Syrian refugee camp would answer that question. They would probably respond with a blank stare and say that their goal is simply to survive today, and then again tomorrow.

Is there one narrative that applies to us all?

What if this life is only the first baby step of our existence? The stories of our lives are being written and our mortal lives are just their introductions. I believe that the American Dreamer, the World Fixer, the Hedonist, the Political Junkie and the Simply Survivor are all short sighted visions of life.

The Biblical narrative is that God loves me even though I am a sinner, Jesus died for me and gave his perfect life in exchange for my sinful one, and that I am being transformed into one who is more and more like Jesus. Jesus is the goal; not riches, not an easy retirement, not a perfect world, not even surviving tomorrow.

Just Jesus. Forever.

It’s difficult to grasp living forever, and it’s easy to understand how this life grabs the focus of most of our thoughts, plans and dreams. I suspect God means for it to be that way, for he has told us little about what eternity will be like. We know that we will live in a new earth, in perfect resurrected bodies and that there will be no more death, tears or pain.

Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:3-4

The “old order of things” are the lives we’re living now, and for all eternity we will be living lives that we cannot begin to imagine. Somehow God will use this old order life to prepare us, transform us and to generate hope for our eternal future. God, who never changes, will stay the same.

Live your life purposefully for the glory of the Lord. Plan, dream and work. But don’t forget that the narrative of your life is being written by God and it will extend far beyond the confines of this world.

What do you imagine eternity with God to be like?

One thought on “Narratives We Live By

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  1. This is a wonderful and grounding reminder that living with and for Jesus is the key to everything else. Thank you Judy!

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