In this series of blog posts, I’ve been exploring the myths of story, the value of sharing our stories, and the importance of seeing our stories in light of God’s cosmic Story—the story of redemption.

Recall that the overarching story conveyed in the Bible is one of grace: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.

Creation can be characterized as a time of peace, or life as it was meant to be. The world was perfect.  Our greatest imaginings do not come close to the glorious possibilities of an unspoiled creation. And what were humans like without sin? We were designed with dignity and in the image of God himself.  We often have little idea what immortal beings of glory we were meant to be, and can be…. and one day will be!

When sin entered because of the Fall, this shalom or wholeness was shattered. Since then, life has not functioned as it was meant to. Even when I climb the snow-peaked ridges of the Olympic peninsula and gasp at the beauty, it’s only a small picture of how great it once was. Humans are not what we were meant to be. At its best, the human race is in a state of decay. If you don’t believe me, go look in the mirror. Even when we shine as our very best selves—in times of great accomplishment and moments of redeeming sacrificial love—we still show signs of decay. We live and move in the Fall.

But what about redemption? In the Garden, even when the curse was spoken over mankind, God sowed the seeds of redemption. Almost hidden, yet right there in Genesis 3:15, we find the first reference to the offspring of woman—Jesus—who will crush Satan’s head. A Redeemer will right all wrongs, will save us, restore us, and heal us. We can see glimpses in our stories where Christ has begun to make all things new. It’s here already, but not yet complete. We know that one day all things will be restored.

Another name for the story of grace is the progress of redemption. The Bible shows that history moves progressively toward a goal, toward completion, toward the day when all things will be made new. We often forget that all of scripture points to the restoration—when Christ will return and restore all things to their rightful place. So even though redemption comes now, it comes only partially. One day it will come fully and completely.

While this larger story arc is evident in history as a whole, we also see many how the small stories of the Bible help form the larger story. Each Bible story contains signposts for redemption. They contain (in smaller versions) mirrors of creation, fall, redemption, and the signs of what will one day be restora­tion. The stories of Esther, Moses, Samson, Rahab, David, and Elijah all contain images of smaller redemptions while at the same time pointing to the Redemption, when our Redeemer will come and bring redemption to the entire world and to each and all our stories (restoration).

While our stories may not get mentioned in the history books, they reflect what we see in scripture: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. And just like the heroes of old, Noah and Lydia, Deborah and Paul, we each play a role in this grand play of redemption. Yet, unlike a theatrical production, our roles are not tediously scripted for us. Oh yes, we have a sovereign God, but he invites us to join him in this great story of redemption.

Come into the play; enter into the drama of the his­tory of the world, and join him in bringing redemption! What is your part? What has your story been up to this point? Where do you see him bringing redemption in your life? Where is he inviting you to join him in bringing redemption to others?

Jesus shines the light of the gospel on us both to expose our brokenness and to bring us to brokenness. I guess we should call this “gospel brokenness,” because only the gospel of God’s grace can enable us to be completely honest about our stuff without falling into toxic shame or self-contempt. And only the gospel can humble us, soften us, and give us the power to repent – or at least, not run away or rant. When followers of Jesus walk openly in this kind of brokenness—gospel brokenness—angels in heaven rejoice, and people without faith, or those with much cynicism about Christians, are likely to reconsider who Jesus is. Write this down: no greater beauty can be found at any point or any place in God’s story than the times when God’s people manifest this gospel brokenness —for that is where God’s glory is revealed most clearly.

—Scotty Smith, Restoring Broken Things

Shari Thomas