Tag Archives: story

Living Out Your Story

Jon and Maggie's Story

Last Saturday, my son Jonathan wrote a story that had some odd twists.  He visited some friends in Chicago with his girl friend Maggie.  The main event was to see a Cub’s game at Wrigley Field.  On the way to the game, a friend mentioned that he had made reservation for the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock center.  Jon expressed surprise, while Maggie expressed joy.  She had visited it once before and knew what a special place it was.

Little did Maggie know that Jon was the one who actually made the reservations.  Jon’s plan was to ask her to marry him that evening.  He also arranged to have several of Maggie’s friends join them for the dinner immediately after the proposal.  But he wanted this all to be a surprise.  Even though the two had been discussing marriage for a couple of months, he had not formally asked. He had the ring and approval from Maggie’s parents.  Now he needed to ask prior to the guests’ arrival.

However, as Maggie and Jon approached the elevators for the restaurant, a new wrinkle in the story appeared. They were running a bit late and the line for the elevator was quite long.   Jon was sure one or two of the Maggie’s friend would show up while they waited in line, ruining the surprise.  All his carefully designed plans would be wrecked.

Then a simple act of grace appeared.  A hostess asked if anyone had reservations for dinner.   Since most of those waiting in the line were only going to the observatory, Maggie and Jon were escorted to the front of the line and whisked to the 95 floor.   There he found a quiet spot overlooking the city lights and proposed.  Maggie, surprised and pleased, said YES.  All the special guests arrived and the meal of celebration could begin.

I wonder if the elevator hostess knew what a special gift she was giving that evening.  In a small way it reminds me of the young boy who offers his bread and fish to Jesus; that offering became the feeding of the 5000 (John 6).  We each have parts (big and small) in stories that are being written.  

Jon and Maggie are planning an October wedding.  Their story of celebration continues to be written.

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Story “Time”

Running With Joy?

When we tell stories, we usually leave out the boring, repetitive stuff.   Yesterday I mentioned my story about running or lack of running.  After finishing Grandma’s Marathon last June, I have not been able to run without pain.  I’ve mentioned this before, but have tried not to dwell on it, since my whining will not help me nor edify you.  

In mid February that I mentioned a new physical therapy called Muscle Activation Therapy (MAT).  MAT involved reactivating little used muscles to help stabilize my left hip.  Every morning I go down into the basement to do my series of MAT exercises, which are boring, tedious, aggravating, and humbling.  Each time I remember Shannon’s promise that they will work overtime.  That is the hard part – over time. If my story were a movie, these exercises would be the parts you would fast-forward through.   

But also, if this were a movie, I would yearn for the dramatic crisis point.  I would say something about giving up, packing it in, throwing my running shoes into the garbage can and slamming the lid.  Then I would talk to Shannon and she would tell me to give it one more try . . .  and, after some stiff coaching, I would meekly pull my shoes out of the garbage, tie them on and (drum roll ) begin to run with joy!

My life is not a movie.  I still have my shoes, I still have hope, and I will continue my exercises.  I have noticed that my left IT band is much better and I can walk without pain.  In time, I am hopeful that I will run again.  But right now, I am simply in the boring part of the story.

One caveat.   In my February 11 blog I compared MAT to PAT (Prayer Activated Therapy).   Part of my Lenten therapy is to learn the contemporary wording of the Lord’s Prayer.  Though I still stumble a bit, the stumbling has pushed me to deeper pondering on Jesus’ prayer.  “Lead us not into temptation” versus “Save us from the time of trial.”   Yes, Jesus, save me from my whining, complaining self.  Teach me to be patient in all things and to seek your kingdom.  Amen.

Is your story speeding up, slowing down, stopped or on track?

Stories Shape Us

The Story of Coke

This morning Rolf Jacobson told a story.  His sixth-grade daughter had a science project in which she tested people’s taste and perceptions.  First she had people do a blind taste test of three cola drinks: Coke, Pepsi and a generic supermarket brand.   Not knowing which cola was which, they split pretty evenly, but the generic was the winner.  Then she had the taste testers go into a second room and try the same three drinks but this time they knew which drink was the Coke, Pepsi and generic.  Coke and Pepsi were the easy winners.   Rolf  saw this as the victory of American brand marketing, a kind of story telling.  We believe in the Coke’s (or Pepsi) story and identify with their products.  Their story has shaped us.

Rolf, a Luther Seminary professor, connected that successful story-telling to the church’s failure to tell the Biblical story in as convincing fashion.  For many the Bible has become a dusty ancient book about some strange people, events and ideas that are jumbled together with God and Jesus.  We recognize bits and pieces of the story, but it rarely has connection to our daily lives.  Though most Lutheran pastors use a Biblical text in their preaching, the over-arching story of the Bible has been lost or never known. 

Rolf has proposed a new worship schedule of Bible readings that would guide a congregation through the Old and New Tesatment story in nine months. More information is at narrative lectionary.

Stories shape us.  Today I had lunch with two running buddies and I realized that running has been one of the stories that has shaped my life for the past ten years.  Because of injury, I miss not being able to run, but I also miss my story/identity as a runner.  I continue my physical therapy in hopes of restoring that activity and identity.   

Still a deeper story is at work.  It’s a story I have heard over and over in worship and study.   My truest identity is as not as a runner, but as a child of God.  Jesus lived, died and rose again to give me that identity and I can not run away from his story.

How does your life story connect with the Biblical story?  Has worship and preaching helped make those connections?