Those are the timorous, fearful words my son often says to me when I read to him or we watch a movie together. He says them “when the plot thickens,” that is, when it looks like the hero/protagonist might be caught, or hurt, or fail. He turns away from the story and looks right at me and says the words looking for me to stop the movie or give some kind of reassurance that “it’s going to be alright.” Whether Jack is running from the giant (Jack and the bean stalk) or Kung Fu Panda’s fighting “the bad guy” (or snow leopard as the case may be) I always tell him similar things like, “let’s see how the hero escapes” or “let’s see how he wins in this situation.”
Of course, not all stories end well. If I was reading a horror story to him (which I don’t) then I couldn’t say that. I’d have to say something like “let’s see how the story ends in confusion and futility and how the protagonist will never be safe again.” If I was reading a Shakespearean tragedy, I’d have to say something like “let’s see how every seemingly good situation dissolves into sadness and grieving.” The trick is to know what genre of story you’re reading/watching.
It occurred to me that the same is true of my story—I mean the one I’m living right now. There are many times I say to God, “I don’t know about this” in my own fearful and shaking voice. But if I knew what kind of story I was in, I could say, “How will God work this situation out for his glory and my good.” You see, I am in a rescue story—not horror, tragedy, or any other kind of faithless fiction.
You see, I am in a rescue story—not horror, tragedy, or any other kind of faithless fiction.
Just think through some of these rescue stories:
- Daniel: Daniel is faithful to God, people hate him and make a talking to God illegal, he continues to pray, he is thrown into the Lion’s den (I don’t know about this!), but God rescues him (because he’s in a rescue story).
- David: Look and see how David is rescued and expects rescue over and over. (Ps 18:16–19; Ps 31:1–2, 15; Ps 35:17–18; etc.)
- Paul: What about all the stories referred to here: 2 Cor 11:24–27? Did they seem like rescue stories at the time? (They were! See Acts). What about his “thorn in the flesh”: 2 Cor 12:7–10?
- Jesus: When Jesus was killed, what kind of story did the disciples believe they were in (Mark 16:12-13)? What kind of story did Jesus tell them it was (Mark 9:31)? What did Jesus believe (Mark 14:62)? What would you have believed?
In fact Scripture concerns itself primarily to tell THE grand rescue story: “The self-existent God rescues sinners for his own glory and their good!”
What about you? What story are you in? Do you say “I don’t know about this” or “Let’s see what God will do.” You are in a rescue story with a loving God as the protagonist. Not even death itself (Rom 8:38) can change the outcome of your rescue story. So, turn to God in faith, be patient, hold on for one more day, rescue is coming!
Further: Consider 2 Tim 4:16-18
Updated: See this post by Douglas Wilson on Reading Yourself in the Story.