Many try to float about as if they’re contextless, story-less, detached from the narrative of their parents, ignorant of their ancestors, their national history, their ethnic identity, and the big story we all find ourselves in. No one ever told them their story. Few probably every read them a story. They had history teachers who hadn’t read a history book in so long that it would take a vigorous historian to unearth when. To such teachers, history wasn’t a passion, it was a job. The story of Washington wasn’t told well, so lesser stories crowded in to fill the gap, stories with sponges named Bob.
Thus a generation grows up with the gumption to declare, “We determine meaning. We write our own story. We determine our destiny.” So they float out there, rootless, pretending to be god, creating their own world. “The page is blank, and we write the tale.” We certainly write, but who gave you the paper? Who taught you to write? Who manufactured the pen? Who discovered ink? Are you writing your story with the Roman alphabet? The canvas you paint on is given to you, with thousands of years of grand patina. You’ve inherited far more than you’ll ever bequeath. The palate of colors you work with, they’re predetermined, and costly.
Not a one of us understands the breadth of beauty and pain necessary for us to have this grand canvas, these rare paints, these costly tools. Why are you painting in Oklahoma? Why are you painting in 2015? Why are you painting with automobiles, the internet, and air-conditioning? That pen that you hold in your hand may be cheap, but how many hours, how many years of effort over the pen and ink led to the tool you have in your hand? The man who holds a 99¢ Pilot G2 is a wealthy steward. To whom much is given much is required. Our best efforts at being grounded must sound as trite to an omniscient God as “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” We know a small slice of the backstory, but how profoundly do we sense its significance. Nonetheless, there’s all the difference between a person who knows that an ancient flood, Pyramids, Solomon’s wisdom, Vesuvius, Constantine, WWI, and the attraction of a man and a woman led to their existence, than one who just thinks they’re a random accident of the cosmos, a product of “Boom!” We deny the Author to write our own story, recasting ourselves as demiurges.
We may try to float, but we’re grounded. We move, but only because we have roots. We didn’t just spring up out of nothing. Even Adam was rooted, made from earth, planned in the heart of an eternal God, and made in His image.
Why the exodus? Why all the show? So that we’d have a story to tell—a family story.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”
Moses isn’t to go to Pharaoh because he’s astonishingly still hard and a bigger hammer is needed to crack his heart. God wants to use the bigger hammer, one that’ll make Mjölnir look like a Fisher Price toy. Multiple wonders are not a have-to because of Pharaoh’s hard heart. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened by God because multiple wonders are God’s want-to. Why is Pharaoh’s heart hard? Because God wants to show. But that is only half the reasoning. This is show and tell. God wants to show so that they’ll have something to tell. “Gather round kids, listen to what God did for us.”
This is part of your story. You’re rooted in this. This is your God. This is how He redeems—big. You’re not story-less. Your ancestry is rich. Envy no epic tale, no masterful film. Yours isn’t simply a good story, it is part of the glorious story—the tale of God’s glory. This isn’t a fish story, it’s a whale of a tale, and like Jonah’s, it’s true. You don’t have to write something epic, Jesus has. You don’t have to be the hero. It’s futile. You were a villain like every other fallen son of Adam. Jesus is the hero. You’re rescued. Tell the tale. Gather the children. Tell them how God destroyed a Pharaoh as part of your salvation.