I’m currently re-reading the first of his Conversations in Spiritual Theology books entitled Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. Here he looks at how Christ can be seen (or “plays in ten thousand places”) through the avenues of creation, history, and community.
One particular quote caught my attention in regards to story.
“It is significant, I think, that in the presence of a story, whether we are telling it or listening to it, we never have the feeling of being experts – there is too much we don’t yet know, too many possibilities available, too much mystery and glory. Even the most sophisticated of stories tends to bring out the childlike in us – expectant, wondering, responsive, delighted – which, of course, is why the story is the child’s favorite form of speech; why it is the Holy Spirit’s dominant form of revelation; and why we adults, who like to pose as experts and managers of life, so often prefer explanation and information.” (p182-183)
These are telling words that just might cut at the continued practices of much of western evangelical Christianity. Stories do truly draw us in, stir in us something. The creatively call us to the cosmic story that is unfolding under the good guidance of our Father. And it also calls us to recognize, as Peterson says, that we are not “experts.” As Job’s three friends found out, stories take twists and turns that do not always fit with our preconceived notions of God and life.
It’s interesting to note that Scripture comes to us in storied format. Not that it is fictional, but that it is a storied narrative of the unfolding of God’s redemption as given through the community of his people. Even when we get to more theological writings, such as Paul’s letters, we must remember that they are not a collection of theological bullet points. Rather they themselves fold into the larger story God is telling.
God is a story-teller.
The Spirit of God works within story.
Life would be dull without stories.
Our stories are part of the tapestry of his good work.