Friday, April 17, 2015

Reality's Mirror

April this year is a very special month. Besides the holidays that commemorate Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, it contains commemorative Jewish days such as Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 16) and Israel Independence Day (April 23). All of these days have at least one thing in common: they testify that there is a shape to the history of the world. God has a plan; events don’t just occur haphazardly.

I’ve recently heard it said that writing a story is like imposing order on chaos. It’s not natural; real people’s lives are made up of seemingly endless, meaningless little details and affairs that need to be left out in order to create a worthwhile story. In one sense, this is true; it would be terribly dull to read a book where everything a character does in a day from the time they wake up is spelled out in exacting detail. The larger events of our days, too, can seem to pedal along without an overall theme as we go from one activity or milestone to another. There isn’t a format to our lives like there is to a work of fiction, which is carefully constructed to give meaning to the events it relates. 

Neither the bridge nor the hills built themselves!

But, in another sense, this is not true. Reality is not meaningless chaos; it’s structured and ordered by God. All artists have to take materials and make something of them—canvases, brushes, and paints don’t create a masterpiece by themselves—but their inspiration comes from what God created in the first place. Writing fiction is a way to mirror the reality of how God has “written” the story of the universe—a beginning, middle, climax, end (or rather, a happily-ever-after, never-ending end). Things happen for a reason, and there is an ultimate goal and a definite overarching plot. The Bible records and foretells many important occurrences that play out God’s plan of redemption and reconciliation. Also, each individual life is a story in God’s eyes. It has a beginning, middle, several defining moments or climaxes, growing and changing character, and a touching and emotional end. Each event has meaning to the overall plan God has for your life (you only have to look for the connections). Things happen that foreshadow the future. And hopefully, you’re a character who grows toward the goal of becoming the person God wants you to be. On this level, then, our lives really are like a story, and writing fiction celebrates the intricately woven plan the Lord has for each of us. Life is not random; it is designed! God is truly the author of our life stories, and they make the best reading!

What other parallels can you see between the structure of a fictional story and your life?

Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history ... and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog

4 comments:

  1. Amazing thoughts--thank you! : ) One of the parallels I would see is supporting characters. We don't all necessarily have a loyal sidekick, but we do have people who encourage us and keep us going. : )

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    1. Thanks for chiming in, Kate! Yes, that's a great parallel! As the people living our lives, we are the "point of view characters," but those supporting characters are necessary to our stories. We wouldn't get far without them!

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  2. I really enjoyed this post, Kelsey--excellent!

    Another parallel I see is that we, just like our characters, don't always understand the overarching plot of our lives. We have clues, and we know our chief end, but the content of our story slowly unfolds, and each event gives us the opportunity to trust that God, the ultimate Author, knows exactly what He's doing.

    Thanks for putting us on this train of thought . . . it's a blessing. :)

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    1. Thank you!
      That is a very neat parallel. You're right; we don't know everything that will happen in our story, but just like the characters, we must trust the Author---even if it what happens is bittersweet. Just like a book is best when characters go through struggles, so our lives are best when we go through struggles.
      Thank you for commenting!

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