Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to the Gold Coast from Christchurch for the official launch of Christian Today’s New Zealand website. International day trips can be brutal, but they do offer one good thing: time to reflect.
While waiting and waiting in the departure lounges, I decided to put the free time to good use. I broached the subject in my mind which I find most fascinating, that of being alive, and tried to consider my own life. In the process, I realised that I feel like I’m developing a better internal, personal narrative. Not a dialogue as if I’m talking to myself but a storyline that helps me process what’s going on.
It sounds strange but the more I think about my life, or life in general, as a story, the less afraid I am, the easier it is to live. A story is a path. The mundane building of plot through the making of daily decisions. Each small step along the way steers the direction. If a wrong decision is made the way forward shifts. Likewise, if a right decision is made it shifts too. Both are equal in that sense and God works in it all, and for our good if we love him.
Everyone wants to do something with their life—to have meaning—and it can seem so hard. If one can even decide where to go, then how to get there becomes the next seemingly insurmountable hurdle. I want to live for God. The variables surrounding this are hard for me to get straight in my head. But the longer I live, and the more I contemplate life, the more simple and everyday any kind of aspiration and living well becomes.
Grand future plans have a place—so do small actions now. The latter seems to effect more change too. I am becoming convinced that, like in a novel, the little things count much more than anything else. Seeing life as the little-steps-leading-to-bigger-things pace of a story is helping me.
Who is promised tomorrow?
I read a sign outside a pharmacy yesterday when driving, creeping out of town at peak hour. The sign said that every day has a second chance. Tomorrow. Half of me agrees. The other half of me calls to mind Scripture. Chapter 27 of the book of Proverbs starts with this wise saying: “Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring.” Nowhere does it exactly say in the Bible, in so many words, “You are not promised tomorrow,” instead the principle is everywhere.
Man is a flower. One day here and the next gone—faded, withered, burned up. Man is a breath, a vapour. One thousand of our years are as a day to God. We are a blink of the eye.
This shouldn’t scare us or outrage us. It should comfort us. We each are given this present day to do what we can with what we have in the circumstances we’re in. As each small-step decision in the plot builds upon the previous, so too each day, Lego piece that it is, snaps together with the next, building up the narrative of our lives. The mundane and the daily take us along the path.
And the path, ultimately, should lead us to the one who made it and us, our Creator, giver of every blessing in our lives, big and small: God, Jesus.
Departure lounge conclusions
I concluded at the end of my departure lounge ruminations that, in the same way the written thoughts, words and actions of a character in a novel provide understanding, the awareness of my life as a story lets me process it better.
I want to live for God. I have no idea what this ultimately looks like. My grand plans so far have flopped or fluxed. But being unsure is okay. Change is okay. I can know that my life is a story God has written, he knows the end from the beginning, and each day I am able to read more of my personal narrative—to live it—following and developing the plot with my decisions and actions.
Life goes on no matter the choices, like a story. Each step leads to the next, like in a story. Like in a story, I cannot know what will happen until I get there. (Though this does not excuse us from negligence and sin.)
The same is true for you too. Perhaps seeing your narrative will help. There’s no need to be afraid. Your life is a novel unlike any other’s. Live it and love it, but remember God, who gave it to you, and use it to serve Him because He is coming again and we will give an account for all we have done.
First published in Christian Today New Zealand
Irenie How was rescued from darkness by the grace of God when she was running away. God showed her He is the Lord and she wants you to know this too. She designs, illustrates, loves, moves forward, and lives. Check out some of her work on Instagram (@irenie.anne)or Behance and drop her a line!
Irenie How’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/irenie-how.html
Irenie How was rescued from darkness by the grace of God when she was running away; God showed her He is the Lord and she wants you to know this too. She is trying to read, draw, love, move forward, and live every day. Check out some of her work on Instagram (@irenie.anne or @anaplangent).
Irenie How’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/irenie-how.html