We have different mental images for God and his activity in the world. It may be that God seems to be a puppeteer, pulling the strings to make us move. He might be a Director as we strut around on the stage. He may sometimes seem to have fallen asleep, deaf to our cries for intervention.
However, my favourite mental image is of God as a master storyteller, inviting us into his story which includes a vast narrative of creation for relationship, rupture, calling back into relationship, incarnation, a new community, a renewed creation.
In this story, I am free to do a fair amount of my own plot generation as my character develops. However, it is always better to work out the plot in consultation with the storyteller, to make sure we are working in sync. After all, he knows how the story ends!
I have been reading The Loving Life by Paul E Miller, and he works through the story of Ruth in the Bible as a story illustrating God’s hesed, his steadfast love. I came across this paragraph, and it made me think of our working in the context of God’s story.
The awareness of a master storyteller weaving my life lets me pause and, like an artist, see hidden blessings and patterns when I begin to bear the cost of narrowing my life. It lets me endure in love because I know Someone is guiding the story toward resurrection… if an unseen hand is shaping the day, then the day becomes an adventure. That frees me to do even repetitive and mindless work. (p.75)
Ruth is reaping by hand in the fields, collecting enough excess grain to feed herself and Naomi, two poverty-stricken widows. That work could have been a terrible burden in the light of their dire circumstances. However, Ruth believes in the God of Israel, the God of Naomi. She shows steadfast love toward Naomi, acting with the same love she believes the God of Israel shows toward his people.
Her hard, physical, exhausting, and seemingly endless work is not without hope. And neither is ours.