by Benjamin Whetstone
2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Our family took a long car ride recently. Halfway through the ride, the kids did what they always do when there’s nothing else to do: they asked for a story.
I’m not great at making up stories out of thin air, so I told them basically the entire story of Frodo the hobbit from the Lord of the Rings books, which I read when I was a kid and know pretty well.
It’s been years since I’ve read the books, so lots of plot details that I couldn’t quite remember were omitted. Other parts were accidentally mangled, mixed up and split apart. Even so, I delighted to tell them of my favorite parts: the really cool wizard; the not exactly snuggly elves; the diminutive and courageous hero.
What do you think — Did I tell them the same story I read when I was a kid or a different one? How important is it that I told them every detail exactly as it was first written down? What’s essential to the story? What could be left out, story intact? Could I have omitted parts I didn’t like? Change the characters’ names or motivations?
I’ve been at Oconee Street for about a year. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that many of us find ourselves here because there are some differences between how we tell the Christian story and how other Christians tell it. For that matter, there’s quite a bit of variation in how each of us would talk about what, exactly, is the essential Christian story that brings us to the church-house each Sunday.
Though we might hope that hearing someone else’s take would elicit a feeling of unity, it’s not infrequent that the versions we hear sound lifeless, disorienting or offensive.
I’ve got lots of thoughts on the matter, but I don’t know how to reconcile all the voices. I really don’t.
But I’m convinced of this:
As I told my kids about the miraculous, unexpected, last-minute grace the protagonist is shown in the final scene — when his virtue isn’t sufficient to carry out the task — I really felt like I was giving them a true, if very much abbreviated, version of the story.
We can’t do it alone.
And God loves to help the humble.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I’m guilty of thinking I’m smart enough and strong enough to not need you all that much. And sometimes I consider my contempt for others justified because they’re wrong and I’m right. I’m so sorry. If I fail to lower myself down, please do what you must to remove any pride that would prevent your kingdom from coming.