So the other day I watched a bus conductor. He hung by the door of the bus, angled slightly outward as he bellowed on the top of his voice for passengers. His crescendo undulated, rising and falling intermittently in the traffic. He looked so tired, so worn. And I wondered what his story was. Did he have dreams? Did a smile ever crack that now expressionless face? How often did it happen? What were his hopes as a child? Did he ever plan to be where he was?
Life on the whole can be pretty crappy and some things happen that make us wonder if it is even worth it. We wake, eat, work, go through routine, sleep and wake again to continue the vicious cycle. I am not about to write another book of Ecclesiastes, but my point is, life can seem meaningless. Why do we live? What do we live for? We sometimes get so caught in the middle that we feel like amateur actors in the center stage of a movie with no script or cues.
Why do we live? We laugh and the next second we cry from the very things that caused us joy. We live in a world where nobody seems to care anymore. Nobody wants to hear anybody. We are lost. Obscure even as we are in everyone’s faces. Sometimes you feel like maybe we all lost our way. Maybe we all should have been somewhere else. Then the question would be…as opposed to what? Space?
There has to be more. Routine is not what we were born for. This picture just doesn’t seem right.
As I go through the book of Genesis, particularly chapter 5, I see names, people…lives. But something struck me; I realized that each of them had a story but somehow, their stories looked so…small that it could be summarized in a verse or a few verses. The writer seemed to breeze over, a procession of names and few-line stories. Whoever they were, their whole book appeared to be sufficient for only a few lines. And even those few verses would go along the lines of:
“When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalel. And after he became the father of Mahalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Kenan lived 910 years, and then he died.” (Genesis 5:12-14)
What a biography! For nine-hundred and ten good years! We don’t even know what he did. All we know is he spent 910 years breathing, making children and…dying. And he wasn’t the only one. Obviously, I know the writer of Genesis couldn’t possibly tell us all they did with their lives. But there should be more.
“And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters, altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God, then he was no more because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:22-24).
I am amazed at this. Why? Because Enoch seemed to have accomplished more in his 365 years than the other people did in over 900 years. Even in the probability that the writer was struggling with space, he could not pass over this significant detail of Enoch’s life.
I have one major fear. I fear that I would be ordinary. I fear that I would not be that person whose story is ridden in so much awesomeness. Who doesn’t? But the truth is, we all have a story, every one of us. But your story or how it is told is defined by who holds the pen. If you choose to hand it over to a writer with an absolute lack of imagination (like yourself), what right has your story to be anything less than boring? A one-line diatribe?
Enoch understood this and so he wisely handed God not just his pen but his hand as they walked into the sunset, littering the pages of Enoch’s life with beauty, a grand work of art. Yours doesn’t have to be a story the whole world knows, but it should be one that fulfils God’s purpose for your life. It should be a life where you die EMPTY, knowing:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”(2 Timothy 4:7).
A life that disappoints the grave because it has nothing give it. A life that has given all there could possibly be. A life that fought to the last irrespective of its length.
It is true we all have struggles, true it can never be easy. It is also true that a manufacturer alone understands why and how he made a car. Life doesn’t have to be a routine or a list of meaningless pain or pure purposelessness. It is more, irrespective of our hurt and wars.
But no matter who we are, where we have been or what demons we fight, we owe it to not just ourselves but to God and indeed our world to tell a story. It is one thing we all have but the extent to which we are able to draw people to it and not bore them or make them shake their heads in pity when our stories are told, is the extent to which we really live.
Open the book.
And hand God the pen.
It would be hard. It would be tough. It would take the very essence of who we are. But in the end it would be God’s story told in us. And it would be worth it.