Dying In The Middle

One of the most challenging concepts of life in general, Christianity as a whole, and Reformed Theology in particular, is understanding, embracing, and enjoying the fact that life isn’t about us. Or, at least not completely about us. We’re born into this world not functionally aware that the cosmos has existed for thousands of years before us, and many of us never grow out of that phase. Sure, we may acknowledge that life isn’t about “me” necessarily, but it’s certainly about “us” as a whole. And even as the core of the gospel screams “No, it’s not!” we hustle about desperately holding on to our childhood sense of supreme importance, trying to remain “blissfully” ignorant of the deeper story, of which we only play a small role. It’s hard to communicate this truth in ways that are compelling, loving, and accurate. Which is why I am absolutely astonished and grateful for three new bloggers…ok, writers I’ve come across recently who have captured this truth so eloquently. They may or may not be Reformed, but their work of communicating this message is pure gold.

First, Preston accepted and gloriously accomplished the very difficult task (to me, at least) of writing a brilliant piece of fiction illustrating this topic in a chilling tale of two young sisters, the truths of the gospel, pride and humility, and the inevitable death we all face.

Second, David composes a compelling bit of narrative nonfiction that I feel shows us the tragic depths to which our selfishness and self-centered outlook can take us, and how the story goes on, even when we stop going.

Third, Stephanie challenges us with a brilliant meditative essay, a style which so easily shocks me by causing truth to resonate in my soul. She so eloquently reminds us that we are born and we die in media res. We are all born into the middle of a story which is not our own, and we exit that story before it completes. This scares some of us, because it removes from us completely any sense of control we thought we had.

But our ticking anxieties can take heart; there is a sequence that is sure. There is a beginning and end that is not fiction, because God became like us, the Alpha and the Omega stooping to our mortal state and entering the world, like we, in media res. He met us in the middle of time, an infant god who interrupted our human hours, to rescue us into His eternity.

I have loved this series so much because it challenges me to constantly remember that we all die mid-story, so life is about more than “us”. We’re born in the midst of “the already” and die in the “not yet.” But there is One who set the story in motion, the cosmic Writer, the Author and Finisher who will revive us again and bring us through to “the end.”

So, I invite you to read the above stories with me as I read them yet again, and feel your sense of control slip away and all personal security shattered. And then find your security forever reformed by embracing the sovereignty of God that exists in the blood-soaked, spike-pierced hands and feet of Jesus, the “infant God” who grew into an innocent man destined to die a traitor’s death for our treason of trying to hijack the leading role in God’s story.

In this, there is security. In this, there is peace. In this, there is true joy.

In this, there is life.

7 responses to “Dying In The Middle

  1. “We’re born in the midst of ‘the already’ and die in the ‘not yet.’ But there is One who set the story in motion, the cosmic Writer, the Author and Finisher who will revive us again and bring us through to ‘the end.'”

    Thanks for adding to the stories, Don. You and Stephanie both did a great job at incorporating the Gospel into this theme. Beautiful addition to what we did!

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  3. Don, thank you for your insightful interpretation of this discussion, and I’ll echo David to say yours here is a wonderful continuation. I liked that you touched on the idea that we are all, in our sinful states, the “main character” of our own stories, but it’s really never about us. We ever need reminded.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Stephanie. I’m grateful for each of your work in this series, as it seems God used it as a catalyst to send me down a path of reflecting upon His greatness and my smallness even more deeply as we approach Advent.

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