Once Upon a Time

9781601429735

Do you ever feel like complaining to God? You’re not alone. Read on!

Once upon a time” is the way all good stories begin.  It is also the way Christians deal with the question “Does my life matter?” In a story every character is essential. Every person has significance. So we say “Once upon a time” and follow with our faith and our doubt, our obedience and our disobedience, our worship and our indifference. All of that and more is part of a story—a story that means something.

Not all stories are about heroes. Not all stories are epic adventures. We do have heroic stories—those of Joseph and Moses and David and Paul. But there are also stories like that of Naomi and Ruth and Boaz. Here the action is very everyday. But all that everyday action—the immigration, the loyalty of Ruth to Naomi, the kindness of Boaz to Ruth, the attentiveness to the Law—all these details are part of a story that is a subplot in God’s great salvation story. The story that means something—and also means everything.
Naomi got into this story by complaining. She experienced loss, complained bitterly about it, had her unhappiness taken seriously by the storyteller and formulated into a complaint against God. These verses are worded in such a way that she is presented as a plaintiff before God. This style of complaining put into legal form was also spoken by Jeremiah, who engaged in suit and countersuit between God and the people. He took up the people’s complaints and pressed them into a legal suit against God; the accusation was that God had failed to be just and fair.
Even though it seems impious, even blasphemous, to talk this way to God, the plain fact is that it is thoroughly biblical. By listening to each other’s complaints and formulating them against God, we help one another get into the story. We don’t always have to be on God’s side, defending him. There are times when our biblical position is at the plaintiff’s side. By being taken seriously—not rejected, not toned down, not spiritualized—Naomi’s complaint becomes part of the story. The emptiness of her life is woven into the plot and, in the process, into the occasion for demonstrating God’s providence.
Do you hesitate to voice your complaints against God? How might Naomi’s story guide you in speaking to God with greater candor? 
By Eugene Peterson
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About HCliffCraig.com

“Now at last they were beginning chapter One of the great story no one on earth has read: which goes on forever”. I love this line at the end of the Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. Everyone has a story to tell and ultimately we are all part of a greater story that someday will be revealed in full. “ For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things”. ( 1 Corinthians 13:12). My story is not remarkable, although the events I have had the privilege in my life to witness have been. I grew up in the south “the land of cotton” and the old times there were definitely not forgotten. I remember where I was and what I was doing when JFK and Martin Luther King were murdered in Dallas and in Memphis. I remember the Civil Rights movement, a time of great unrest and change. I remember the dawning of the “Age of Aquarius” in the late 1960’s. It was also the dawning of my love for playing music, a love that has stayed with me throughout my life. If my life were chapters in a book one would tell of my precious bride of 20+ years who endured so much and stood beside me through the good and the bad. One would describe the blessings of being a father and a grandfather. One would tell about how despite being “the wretch” the song sings about God was able to change me, and use me to make a difference in others lives, make me a servant in His church, and surround me with friends all because of His goodness. All part of a story that has had many twists and turns. I think of the words Jimmy Buffet wrote in one of my favorite songs "As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin’ man I have chalked up many a mile Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks And I learned much from both of their styles" And so it is true for me. But in all of my travels and all I have read and experienced nothing compares to where I am headed. The place where my story here ends and the story that goes on forever begins! "" I am confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion until the day He returns". Philippians 1:6 My hope is that as we all run our race that in some small way my words will encourage and speak to you, as your story is being written. And draw you ever closer to the One who loves you. Further up and further in!
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