I've been thinking about stories lately. Stories inspire, they quicken, they connect, and perhaps most of all, they allow for reflection.
I wonder if we realize that we, too, are in stories of our own? Something I've been reflecting upon lately is how much I've been relating with epic movies and more particularly, with the stories within those movies. I just recently saw Clash of the Titans and afterward I was thinking, "Wow-- I really relate to Perseus's struggle with all of these seemingly impossible obstacles." Similarly, my recent experience is one of trial and I have found that trial births a warrior spirit--something which one finds in tales like this. And if we do not yet relate to such a tale, it is at least the starting point for how we can come to long for a story like this.
What I have been continually reminded of is that we live in a world that is at spiritual war. And we are all cast as the main character in each of our stories, whether we want the part or not. However, it is up to us whether we act upon that or not. In The Lord of the Rings, when Frodo complains that he wishes the ring had never come to him at all and that none of his journey turned out the way it had, Gandalf replies, "Such things are not for you to decide. All that we can do is decide what we will do with the time that is given to us." Simply ignoring the fact that we play a crucial role in our story or choosing to believe that the world is not at spiritual war does not excuse us from the battle nor does it land us an excuse for an "escape from jail free" card. No, it is very important to realize what is going on around us and see things as they really are, as John Eldredge relates in his book, Waking the Dead. Similarly, it is crucial we learn how to fight in this war.
I relate to the characters in these stories because they have all gone through a test which has brought them out transformed on the other side. This is one such thing I have been learning in this season. I have found that we all have giants to slay and that not one person is left without them in their journey. Some might not fully realize what those giants may be, but they are there, no doubt, and they need to be slain! The enemy wants us to think they cannot be defeated. They can and will. Let us not forget David and Goliath.
An element that recurs throughout stories such as Gladiator, Clash of the Titans, and Avitar, is that the main characters have been transformed by their trial into being the hero they now are. No place of honor comes without a price tag, and this is exactly who we are meant to be in this spiritual battle: honored warriors.
After a season of trials and giants to be overcome and conquer, I found myself smiling with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as I realized why I could relate to these heros in these movies--these stories. God was actually using those very challenges and circumstances in my life to fashion me into the weapon that he would use to destroy the enemy seeking to devour me. Although I still face and will continue to face many more giants, I take confident assurance in knowing that God alone is my strength and rock, the lifter of my head and that it is he who trains my hands for war (Psalm 144:1).
If we find that we cannot relate to the characters of these tales of great exploits and triumphant victories and the slaying of great giants and foes, let us examine at the very core of our being why this is so and then move away from simply desiring to have a similar story and step with courageous faith into the deep waters of trust and obedience as we seek to leave the biggest place in our lives for God. As we do this with self-abandonment, we find that the giants take greater notice of us and march our way. But we also find that we have armour, sword, and shield, and the one who forged it walks with us in the midst of the fight. In this preparation and confidence, let us run into the battle!