Based on a True Story


“We are woven in story from birth. Our identity was spoken before time, and most of us have yet to claim it fully…The surest way to prove that the gospel is real and enough is to enjoy God and fall deeply in love with the story He tells.”

(Alia Joy)

What comes to mind when you think of stories told about you? Do you laugh? Shrug? Cringe? Like them or not, stories are powerful. They can bolster our courage by recalling heroic deeds or cause fresh embarrassment to roll over our souls once again. Stories can share of God’s rescue and triumph. They can invite repentance, revealing our deep need for the Hero to step in and save. From parables to performances, songs to sonnets, stories encapsulate truths of the kingdom. One day, storytelling is how we’ll win the war—by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony—and how we’ll spend our happily ever after.

Stories wove themselves like a princess cape around my childhood. Bedtime tales of frogs and pearls swirled together with a flannel board Jesus to create an extravagant backdrop of scenes for my heart. When I was in third grade, I purchased a new spiral notebook and launched what was to be the most significant work of our times—a daring adventure of an unfortunately-named pixie teen who ran away with her unicorn. (I’m still not sure why the publishers didn’t see the genius of an evil gnome called Glime.)

My relationship with story grew as I did. In college, the grand story merged with my own. I was no longer a rogue lover of words trying to make my life count; I became vibrantly aware of a plot that stretches past the edges of time in both directions and my place in it. I came alive to this epic, brimming with beauty and brokenness, which gives meaning to all of my small stories, those miniscule daily exploits that fill my years. Every overpowering fear, every boring hour, every ugly cry was written by the same good Author who imagined the cross in its blazing light. Each syllable of my life is infused with hope because nothing is wasted.

I’m not abandoned in the words of this story. Even in the dark, the Author sits with me, reminding me of how He’s passed this way, too— “For we know the age-old story: death descends into the glorious, surprising burst of resurrection” (Ashley Hales). The Word entered the world and finished the grand story long before my latest disaster or most recent achievement. The ending has been written in blood, and it’s an unimaginably perfect conclusion. Until the day we see it unfold, though, we get to partake in our millions of little stories, rehearsing the life of death and resurrection as we join the Hero in His good work in, among, around, and through us.

To map out your own story, plot on a timeline the handful of experiences (both good and bad) in your life that most profoundly shaped who you are. Next to each, write a positive statement summarizing what that event taught you. This part of the exercise isn’t to minimize your pain but to see how God redeems all things for our good and for His glory. Feel free to add other significant highlights as you go. Then try offering pieces of your story to safe people around you. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.*

Your story is one of the most precious and effective gifts you’ve been given—it’s utterly unique, never too much, and never too little. May you hold it with tenderness and kindness, letting it comfort others in pain. And may you also hold it with determined strength, wielding it against the enemy of our souls. Each story is a gifted weapon meant to pierce the darkness, much like the presents Father Christmas bestows upon the children in Narnia.

Friends, ours is a storytelling family, words strung perfectly together by the Word Himself. We don’t have stories; we are stories. Didn’t you know He calls us His poems? As we walk the lines of our lives written like this on purpose, we discover that we impact one another in profound ways. Owning and inhabiting our stories is an act of worship. So come, let us adore Him.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul.

(Psalm 66:16)

*Because our world is so broken, trauma often infiltrates our stories. If yours feels too jagged to hold, let alone to share, let me wrap my arms around you and lovingly point you in the direction of a great Christian counselor. There’s no shame to be found here, only healing. If our deep wounding goes untreated for too long, what was meant to be our greatest weapon becomes our greatest burden. The Lord longs for you to live an abundant life, so please pursue the help you need.

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