What is a great story, I wonder? And do not all of us hunger for these stories? They are the ones that truly captivate us and move us, the stories that point to some bigger meaning that we long to discover. Where are these stories found? Are they found in the happy confines of average life--where nothing unexpected ever happens and the main characters live normal life all their days? No, surely not! To me, a great story is found in two little Hobbits leaving the comfort of the Shire far behind for Mount Doom. It's in a shipwreck and a deserted island or a land of perpetual ice and snow.
It's strange: the stories that truly mean something to me—and probably to a lot of people, come to think of it—are the ones filled with danger and dread. What is a story without woe, betrayal, and treachery?
But no, all that really doesn't make for a great story (unless you are a really, really messed up person I suppose). It's what comes out of the darkness that counts. In the great stories, betrayal is replaced by beauty, treachery by treasure, and woe by wonder.
But how does that happen? Isn’t it by the bravery and endurance of the main characters that darkness turns to light? Yes! Commitment and courage, friendship and faithfulness, Service and steadfastness--all are prerequisites of a main character in these epics. Samwise Gamgee, Robinson Crusoe's man Friday, and little Lucy Pevensie come to mind.
So what is a great story? To me, it's far from comfort and close to calamity. It's full of tension and even terror, but resolved in healing and happily ever after. Memorable characters burst from these stories and captivate us, and we only wish that they could exist outside the world of imagination and inspiration!
To take it one step further: what is the greatest story ever told? Is it found in the fictional worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia? Maybe, but what if even these great stories are only a shadow of the greatest story, the one that has been unfolding in our world since the beginning?
What if it's found in the middle of the serene gift of a garden paradise, but then in the tragedy of a forbidden fruit and a fall? What if it is in the mercy of the Maker and the suffering of a Savior? Surely, there is a story filled with betrayal and beauty, treachery and treasure, woe and wonder, and praise be for the mercy of the Maker, the end of this story is healing and happily ever after.
But what does that make us? What if . . . Imagine it! What if we are characters in this greatest story, this epic that outshines all others? Do we even dare to imagine that we could be a Samwise Gamgee or a Lucy Pevensie? When I consider who the Author is of this story, I dare to hope. Placing this hope in Him, I strive to be courageous and committed. I long to be found faithful as a friend and steadfast as a servant!
But no Samwise Gamgee is alone. There be warriors and weapons. There be fears and fortresses to conquer. There be a Lord and a Light to follow. So there is one more question I must ask:
Will you join me?