Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Once Upon a Time...

The softly falling rain silences the world beyond my window as I wrap myself in a soft blanket and open the book before me. The pattering on my windowpane slowly fades away until all I can hear is the beating of dragon wings and the ring of dueling swords. My tea grows cold while my imagination is flooded with the spicy aroma of pine forests, the taut emotions of tangled conflicts, the piercingly sad beauty of loyalty and loss.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

A sense of story seems wired into the the essence of humanity. Legends, fairytales, and histories from ages past still manage to enchant us. Why story? Why this fascination with things that have no correlation in our immediate lives? What does it matter, really? That a story should have a conclusion, a "happily ever after", a rags-to-riches ending, certainly doesn't parallel what we see of reality.

And yet it resonates.

I don't know if you've ever found this, but there can be times when fiction seems to expose a truer truth, a higher reality than we see with our eyes. Through words penned by another soul, longings are awakened for a country beyond imagination, a place we inexplicably know is home.

Perhaps it is because we belong to such a story.

It is written - written for us, written of us. The cynics may scoff, but there is a spotless bride, a coming King, a sleeper who was awakened, a love that is real. God is the ultimate author of all that is good. When our souls are stirred with the beauty of a well-crafted tale, perhaps it is because it is a reflection, in some vague way, of the story He has written. Even when reality shatters romantic idealism, there is an unseen reality that shines to defy the impossible, to redeem the irredeemable.

Existence would be flat and lifeless unless it was embodied by story. We do not read only the last page, when Prince Charming appears to rescue the princess and they ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after. The biting of our nails when the challenges seem insurmountable, the mirth of watching the hapless hero bumbling about, the bright fairy-tale colours on every page - these exist for a purpose of no less beauty. While prone to sin and human error, and having been used for ignoble purposes, God has gifted us with imagination and emotion because they are good. Thoughts and feelings have a purpose, meaning, and beauty - they are not reduced in meaning simply because of the greater, overarching story.

Likewise, the love of God exists not only for a certain end, but during every moment - He loves us not for what we can perform, but at every moment, and in every season - and for each moment there is a purpose, not only as a means to the end, but because God has breathed intrinsic value into every instant of time. There is a Story of greater beauty than any that has ever been penned by men, which is lived by everyone who believes. Abraham and Sarah, living in tents in the wilderness, looked ahead to the days of the unseen, promised city. Moses, a prince of Egypt, turned his back on earthly treasure to seek the reward of heaven. Rahab, a prostitute, was declared righteous for her belief and given a place of honor as an ancestor of the Messiah. A great cloud of witnesses goes before us, testifying to His glory, which outshines the value of anything real or imagined.

So let us imagine, let us dream, but oh! May we know the firm reality, the infinite depths of what exists for us in Christ. May we live, truly live, knowing that the great King is coming soon! The greatest love has come, chains are being undone, and we have a battle to fight!