To start with, there is that picture we saw this morning of the bike down on its side in the driving rain storm and the man trying to lift that 600 pound beast by himself. To no avail. In frustration, he lifts his arms like he’s about to start beating the motorcycle. That feels a lot like our daily lives. We live in a world at war and life just doesn’t go so well for us. Others breeze through life but I find myself in the ditch, unable to lift the bike, hearing the condemnation of “you’re weak” or “a real man could do this”. And then. And then … there is that next frame of the film where two brothers are there helping him quickly lift the bike and get him back on track.
That … is Tribe. That … is how it is supposed to be. Other men knowing your story, seeing your deep worth and helping you stand up against the setbacks and the, “why can’t I seem to get past this” of life to call you UP to all God intends for you to be.
When everything in the world makes no sense, there is beauty. It speaks to a larger story.
Chesterton said, “With every step of our lives, we enter into the middle of some story we will probably misunderstand”. The key to the riddle of our lives is often back in our own story but if you never unpack this stuff, it pins your heart down. A man trying to figure his life out on his own is for one, living a very small story and two, has no chance to understand what is really happening.
My father died when I was 12.
My Dad was an alcoholic, abusive man who always told me I was worthless.
I screwed up and blew my chance at college.
I’m addicted to pornography and it cost me my marriage.
And after these things, there is the, “and ever since then”. Ever since then, my life has been one experience of pain after another. Of course. Of course. There is this moment of great pain, heartache or shame in your life and if you can go back into that pain and unpack it and understand it, it will explain so much of the rest of your story. THAT is what we’re after.
Love is a big part of what makes story worth living. The search for love is at the center of everyone’s story. It might look like a search for success or praise or validation or affirmation – it’s still the search for love. Or, it can look like defensiveness, isolation, “I don’t need anything or anyone” – it’s still love, you’re just pushing against it.
We were meant to be honored and respected and we were meant to be delighted in. Where you experience honor and delight, you will feel loved. But so often, when delight comes, it is often based on what we’ve done and whether we’ve performed well enough. Honor often causes us to hide that which we know is not really lovely inside of us.
So, we’re in a bind. We want love, we’re afraid, we don’t want to risk but we’re meant for delight and honor. So often, we choose the safe road rather than what we’re made for. The biggest risk we ever take is the risk to love and to be loved because it is the deepest desire. It’s at the core of our being – we live in a love story set in a world at war. Love is the core and the war is always against love.
Here is our dilemma – if the world was only filled with love and beauty, we wouldn’t find it so hard to believe a good and kind hand was behind all of it. But then there is suffering, loss and heartache. Pain comes slamming into our lives and this is where we get really confused about what kind of story we’re living in. A significant loss or pain in your life can really mess up your understanding of story if you don’t have something to help you interpret it.
Pain and fear in our lives causes us to stay in small stories, safe stories that give us just a taste of what we were meant for.
Whatever interpretation of your story there is, it must reconcile beauty and suffering, love and loss. The real question isn’t “why is there so much suffering in this world?”, it is “Why is there so much beauty?” If life is an accident and mostly cruel, how do you explain beauty?
All the movies we love are the same story – an epic battle of good and evil that must be fought, small characters that rise up and play a valiant role and then at the end, some epic restoration occurs and the King returns … that is the Gospel. There is a larger story and we have a place in it.
Stories, movies, myths, legends – they are all telling us something true about the universe. There is meaning, you are a part of something great and good. We have a heroic rescue through His life, death and resurrection. We are rescued and now called up into a great story. Yes, there is a battle of good and evil – just watch the news! Yes, you’re needed – small characters in an epic story. We get to live in the grandest story of them all.
We’re all looking for what we’re meant for. That longing for the epic is a big part of why adventure has become so popular but adventure isn’t enough to be a life story. You know you’re in a small story when you’re the main character and that’s the risk of making adventure your story. Adventure can turn on you at any moment.