When You Don’t Know the Moral Of the Story

This Week's Series: #ChristCentered

This Week's Series: #ChristCentered

“Do you have any advice to give me as I write about living in an inner city neighborhood?" I asked one of our mentors.

He went over important precautions, and then he ended with this: “Most of the time, writers want to know the moral of the story. But when you live in a distressed neighborhood, things will happen and you won’t be able to explain why. And that’s okay.”

I was impressed by his ability to capture the dilemma of what it’s like to digest your life in real time on the Internet.

The most basic formula for Christian non-fiction writing is to first share what happened, and then to either tie in a spiritual metaphor or explain what was learned. {Add a dash of creative wordplay, daydream editing while you’re making peanut butter sandwiches, and a few night owl hours of final polishing when you should be sleeping, and you’ve got yourself a new blog post.}

But the truth is - for myself as a writer and for any other human being navigating real life on earth - we won’t always be able to see a big enough picture to know the moral of the story.

Fast forward a few months, and I’m sitting at our dinner table with another friend, describing some of the hardships of neighboring where we live.

It had been a long week, and I laid out an entire laundry list of discouragements: broken relationships our neighbors were facing, poverty our friends were fighting, and our own clumsiness at knowing when the right choice is to step in or back off.

Shrugging my shoulders, I ended with the phrase I now experienced to be true: “And I don’t know what the moral of the story is.”

Without hesitating, my friend said, “That’s okay. You don’t need to when you know Who is at the center of the story.”

I felt shivers run down my spine as I pondered that in my heart:

I don’t need to know the moral of the story when I know Who is at the center of the story.

Whether we are facing our own storms or we are watching storms rip through other people's lives, our questions usually start with, Why, Lord? Why did this happen? And what are we supposed to learn? 

But when certain questions aren't guaranteed to be answered right now, focusing on the Center of the story gives us so much truth to anchor to:

Even when I look around at what’s happening and I can’t explain why it's happening, I can trust that no matter what, God will bring His will to fruition.

For I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose. {Isaiah 46:9b-10}

Even when I can’t explain away my hardships and pain and frustration, I can focus on the knowledge that Christ is working in me to make me more like Him.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. {Philippians 1:6}

Even when I am walking a dark valley of unknowns, I can rest in the knowledge that Christ will be glorified.

As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. {Romans 14:11}

I won’t pretend it’s easy not knowing the moral of the story – especially when you’re thick in its conflict or pain.

But today I am praying that wherever you are and whatever you are going through, you will fix your eyes on the Author, the Main Character, and the plot’s Center.

Remember this with me: I don't need to know the moral of the story when I know Who is at the center of the story.

 

Grace and Peace,

Kendra