I am a total fan of Donald Miller and his work with story. I cried several times reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I gave it to friends to read, and Sojourn gave it away on campus and to graduates. I use story language all the time.
If I were to be critical of my stance, though, I would say this: telling a different, better, story is hard. And sometimes, talking about different, better life as story can mask the nitty, gritty work that goes into telling better, different stories.
Living a holy life is a better, different story, but it’s hard.
Living a simple, non-consumeristic life (with a budget and a lot of saying no to things) is a better, different story, but it’s hard.
Living a servanthearted/others-oriented posture is a better, different story, but it’s hard.
Lot’s of people want a better, different story, but they don’t want hard.
When I talk like this I’m afraid following Jesus can sound sad and joyless. It is anything but!
Holiness is hard, but I am so grateful and happy for the choices that Amy and I have made, for the suffering we’ve been spared as a result, and the relative innocence with which we get to live our lives.
Simplicity is hard, but I am so grateful and happy for the miracles we’ve seen and experienced, for the direct provision from God we get to see daily, and for the freedom we have as a result.
Serving others first is hard, but I am so grateful and happy for the meaning and purpose that comes from giving our lives away.
But none of those things are cool. None of them are sexy. And they stand in direct opposition to 99% of the messages we are bombarded with from advertising, families of origin, Facebook, the stories we see on TV and in movies, from our professors and peers, from the celebrities we worship.
Better, different stories have very little cultural reinforcement. And so living these stories and calling people to these kinds of stories is hard, hard work.
Who wants to live simply and raise money when they could get paid a steady and reliable income? Who wants to live a holy life when you can just do what you want? Who wants to serve others and put others first when every other message tells us that to get ahead we need to take care of ourselves (through networking, taking advantage of opportunities, making the right friends, meeting the right people, getting what we deserve, etc)?
All semester we’ve led our students through a series of conversations that have contrasted these different ways of living, different ways of viewing the world, and making decisions, and setting priorites. We’ve invited them to a different and better story.
All semester I realize that what we are doing is asking people to make a really hard choice.
But I believe it is the best choice they could ever make.
To live life in service of the King and his Kingdom is never going to be easy,
But it is going to be good.
And full of joy.