The narrative stories of faith in the Bible are masterpieces of incalculable value. Above the creativity of a Rembrandt, DiVinci, or Renoir, they are living portraits of real people engaged in the most challenging and beneficial pursuits conceived out of the very heart and mind of God. Above the artistry of a Beethoven, Chopin, or Brahms, biblical journeys of faith combine events and circumstances into perfect harmony, pace, and rhythm to produce compositions of rare beauty and lasting interest. The lives of the people of faith in the Bible touch us at our deepest longings for truth, virtue, and the sure peace of inner conviction, in a world where the true directional compass for the guidance of our spirit and soul is hard to find amongst a multitude of competing voices and alternative pathways to follow.
The narrative stories of faith in the Bible tell us that there can be real meaning, purpose, direction, and risk-filled adventure to our lives. They tell us that there is a living God who wants to take an active role in the events and circumstances of our lives to help us find out who and what we were created to be. These biblical stories describe a God of brilliantly creative imagination combined with an insightfully piercing grasp of moral and ethical standards at the peak of truthfulness, yet with the enduring patience and forbearance of a wise and loving parent (Mt. 6:9-13). God wants to partner with us to help us find our true selves and to perfect our unique place in eternity, through what this book calls the danger zone of the Christian life.
We find common to all of the biblical narrative stories of faith a structural framework (Eph. 2:10; 4:15-16), which we can call God-composed journey of faith life-scripts. This framework or body-plan contains a common idea that is utterly foreign to all worldly conventional thinking…that the true and living God wants to and is capable of displacing our own self-conceived life-plan with a higher, individually tailored life-plan. Biblical-quality journeys of faith have meaning and purpose that perfectly match our abilities, talents, and oftentimes an innermost longing for godliness we previously did not know we had. Biblical-quality journeys of faith also fulfill very specific needs at given times that fit perfectly within the events of a big-picture progression of divine revelation in human redemptive history.
What makes this common, storyline feature foreign to worldly conventional thinking is the cross of Jesus Christ. The novel idea that the living God would ask us to willingly surrender our own way to His higher plans by mere faith and trust in Him, entailing some measure of cost to us for the sake of a larger good, bigger than ourselves, is what sets the God of the Bible and the narrative stories of faith therein, apart from all other existing realities.
This concept cuts to the heart of the human problem, but it is not universally found anywhere else in philosophy, religion, or literature outside of the Bible. “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk 22:42) makes relevant, rational sense as the self-sacrificing model of divine love for mankind’s salvation only if there exists an Intelligent Designer God capable of crafting the perfect human life of Jesus Christ the Son of God into a full atonement for mankind’s sin, with the accompanying power to raise Jesus from the dead. The ingeniously devised life-script for Jesus the Son of God, matching perfectly His divine nature and capacity as the Word of God (Jn 1:1-5) and uniquely as the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6), tells us that God can also craft novel and unique life-scripts to perfectly match each one of us as well.
But here the chaos and confusion of sin, and the rebellious nature of self-sovereignty enter in to spoil the picture. There is an old adage that says: “a camel is a horse designed by committee.” The composer of uniquely singular life-plans that will lead and guide us into the “all truth” of John 16:13, designed to set us free to be able to experience joy and peace for an eternity, has to be God alone. The one and only correct route walks straight through the “narrow gate” of Matthew 7:13-14…a tightly scripted journey of faith composed by God through which our worldly aspirations, dreams, and desires in-line with conventional normalcy will not fit. The intelligently designed, unconventionally higher ways of God (Isa. 55:8-9) will get us into slim-and-trim spiritual shape, free of all of the excess baggage of unfruitful desires, to be able to walk through this narrow gate and out into the adventure of a journey of faith with the committed resolve to overcome any and all obstacles in our unique callings.
Pastors of churches who pour out themselves in service and in prayer for their congregations every day (Col. 1:9) without any expectation of outside recognition or acclaim…people who willingly leave everything behind to go out into the foreign missionary field despite the confusion and lack of understanding from family and friends (1 Pet. 4:4)…and people involved in all types of Christian ministries (1 Cor. 12:28), know first-hand about the self-sacrificing costs of taking up their cross for the sake of Jesus and the gospel.
Isn’t this the attitude that is integrally part of the complex storylines of the lives of the people of faith recorded in the Bible? Isn’t this what every Spirit-born Christian knows instinctively and intuitively, that if they fall upon this stone that is Jesus Christ, they will indeed be broken but in the most positive, fulfilling, and satisfying way beyond worldly conventional, human imagination (Lk. 20:17-18)?