It Pays to Check the Sale Rack

I was at the local Christian bookstore around Easter, cruising the sale rack, and I found a gem. What attracted me first was the cover, which shows an old-style paper pocket like you used to see on library books. The front of the pocket holds the title of the book and the name of the author: STORY, written by Steven James.

According to the book's cover, Mr. James is an author, storyteller and poet. I like his poems, but what I really like is the way he tells his, well…THE story. God's story. This quote appears on the inside front cover:

"The empty tomb doesn't make sense without the cross, the cross doesn't make sense without the manger, and the manger doesn't make sense without the Garden of Eden. It's all one story. And only when you finally untangle it, see it unfold, and enter it for yourself do you realize that the story has finally entered and untangled you. "

Wow. That made me want to read more!

Of course James begins telling the story at the beginning. Creation. He says:

"He [God] couldn't adopt us into his family until he'd created a place for us to live, so he created the heavens and the earth…The sunrise of Easter had its origin at the dawn of time when darkness fled before the words of God."

James says that in Eden, God and humanity were in harmony. Then came sin. He reminds his readers that all of us, at some point in time, swallow "venomous fruit" like Adam and Eve did. It looks good, but…there are always consequences. Sin's consequence was the loss of harmony with God, the loss of light. God, because he loves us, did not take away the promise that the harmony and the light could be restored.

In fact, God keeps reaching out to people even though they turn their backs on Him. James says that:

"…whips and fists and tears and chains are the chapter headings of the human story–a story that's still unfolding, still being told. A tale in which darkness is alive, and hell is all too often at high tide."

It intrigues me that James's telling of the story centers around the desire humanity has to return to Eden. Those who know the Bible know that the Israelites waited CENTURIES for Eden, for light to be restored. Finally, God used a young woman named Mary "and the Word became flesh"(John 1:14). Light had returned to earth.

James brings up another good point,too. He says that Jesus wants followers, not admirers.James reminds his readers about the rich young man who admired Jesus but could not bring himself to follow. This gave me a lot to ponder. I would call myself a follower of Jesus. But am I? All the time? One of James's poems speaks to this issue in the chapter "Scattered":

some sheep aren't lost

they know exactly

where the shepherd is.

it's just that they're running away from him.

Good thing THAT isn't the end of the story!

Steven James's book, STORY, is definitely worth a read. If you are a believer, it will help you think about your faith in new ways. And if you aren't, James invites you to evaluate your place in God's story.

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June 2006
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