In his book Epic, as well as his other writings, Eldredge asserts that we are all part of a larger story. He believes life is a story, not a math problem, not a scientific formula, nor an accident. He says that possibly the greatest question we can ask ourselves is "What sort of tale have I fallen into?" Furthermore he identifies that, for most of us, life feels like a movie we've arrived at 45 minutes late. Yet we can't escape the feeling that there is a story written on the human heart. But what is it? How do I fit into the story? Where does it really begin and does it have a happy ending?
This Epic is all about relationships and freedom to love and freedom to choose. It's about Romance and Rescue. It begins "Once upon a time..." and it ends "...happily ever after." Traditional Christianity consisiting of frequent church attendance, self-righteous living and lists of do's and don'ts somehow fails to connect the story written on our individual hearts to the Epic that is being written since time began. As I have been working to be really honest with my self I am realizing that I'm not happy with the role the Author of the larger tale has cast me in this Epic. Unfortunately the Villain in the story has capitalized on our freedom to choose for ourselves. You see, it is our ability to choose for ourselves that makes this an Epic love story, for nobody wants the love of someone who is forced to love them. As Eldredge puts it "God created us in freedom to be his intimate allies, and he will not give up on us. He seeks his allies still. Not religion. Not good church people. Lovers. Allies. Friends of the deepest sort." What the Villain of the story has done is whispered to all of us, including me "You cannot trust the heart of God...he's holding out on you..." He has undermined the relationship.
So God has a complicated problem. He loves. And he loves us so desperately that he wants to rescue us. To further complicate things, we don't always realize we need to be rescued. We can be so caught up in ourselves and our smaller story that we don't realize that we are part of the larger story. Yet in my heart, however faintly it calls to me, I hear a voice that tells me I was once more than I am now. It beckons me to be part of this great Romance. So why is the seed of mistrust that the Villain planted in my heart growing like a weed, choking out whatever Romance with the Author the heart is trying to cultivate?
This is where I am struggling right now. I have the knowledge that I am a cast in this Epic love story that has been going since the beginning of time and is, in fact, eternal. My heart is desperately longing for happily ever after. But I find myself stuck in whatever scene of this Epic I'm in and it feels tragic, often hopeless and it feels like God is holding out on me. What do I have to do to get this story moving forward? What do I have to do to have a better role in this tale? I don't like the part I've been given and I want it to change. Could it be as simple as a choice? God says "I have set before you life and death...Now choose life. (Deut. 30:19) I thought I had. I thought I am. I thought he understands imperfection and that justice, mercy and grace were working together to make it all better for me.
So I'm wrestling with the questions. I'm looking at the big story once again. At the end of the book Eldredge lays out "the road before us." He describes the answers to the questions and poses new questions. I am going to spend a bit more time understanding my questions before I write about the answers. I will tell you, however, that I think the answers were presented to me today. The Narrator voice for the story written on my heart spoke louder. The voice of a close friend helped to clarify by listening and offering empathy and insight. But like I said earlier, like all of us I have the freedom of choice and sometimes I think I choose not to be rescued. That is the saddest part of the story. Maybe this time it will be different. I'll let you know in future posts.
If you would like to know more about John Eldredge and Epic: The Story God Is Telling, you can click here: www.epicReality.com. There you will also find a link to Ransomed Heart, John and Staci Eldredge's ministry based in Colorado.