When I was younger I demolished books. I devoured them like a thirsty, starving child hungry for nourishment and life. At one stage in my early teens I read an average of one book every two or three days. They weren't children's stories either, but they were usually bricks with 400–800 pages. And I kept this up for months and years too.
I loved science fiction and fantasy novels the most. I was spell-bound by worlds being unveiled and new horizons opening up. I felt my mind stretching and flexing to grasp countless new words, ideas and ways of thinking.
My desire for adventure, action and progress was satisfied by lines of make-believe worlds or twists on reality and the movies they made in my mind.
It's incredible, isn't it? That we can transport ourselves into such diverse and fantastic landscapes simply by reading and understanding!
One day, a little older and seeking an answer for life all the harder, I picked up another book. Its plotline blew my mind. Its character descriptions were incredible; vivid and earthy.
The book of beginnings
The book began as many do with a beginning. The beginning. It said that at that time there was one, almighty Being, not created but everlasting, who spoke and brought the universe to life. A Being whose utterance boomed in the dark void of nothing and flung stars and planets into space.
The Being, God, crafted the earth with care, putting everything in its place and filling it with creatures. He took dust from the ground and breathed life into man, and took a bone from man to mould woman.
The plot thickens
These people were given everything. As a people made in God's image, they had power and ability to subdue worlds, the choice of everything in the land (but one thing), and unbroken communion with the divine.
They were given each other, and everything to do and to be; but this man and this woman gave into the lust for power instead. It's strange—they lusted after something that they, in a sense, already had. The consequence? They were thrust into exile, cursed for their pride, arrogance and betrayal.
The generations that came from these two the book described as now filled with violence. Twisted inside by disobedience and blackened in heart, soul and mind. Their condition was now fallen—from love and life and hope; fallen into spiritual death. And the book said that their condition was mine! Their condition is ours!
The narrative of narratives
I thought to myself: this couldn't be real. It was the best fiction I'd ever read. It ticked all the boxes. It was a narrative of narratives. I could have forgiven the book if it had stopped at its piercing account of the innate depravity of mankind, but it didn't. The book kept going. I hardly saw the plot twist coming. I'd heard about the possibility but never given it much thought.
God—the God, the one who made everything—entered the world. He entered as a man! He condescended to walk the earth, with its sickness and sin, on two feet. He gave Himself hands, with which He shaped wood as a carpenter, and eyes to smile with. He dressed in robes and ate bread to fill His stomach. He did all this to die.
I always hated the stories in which villains triumphed, yet here, after centuries of prophecy, the hero was going to be brutally murdered. He knew it too, but He didn't back down! Why?
I read in this book that the only cure for the spiritual death ravaging the world was death. Only the death of this newly arrived God-man could satisfy the justice and holiness of the one who sent Him, against whom everyone had been rebelling since the fall.
He did die this death, but the story didn't end there. He rose to life again on Sunday, three days after His burial—sacrifice accepted.
An unbelievable book
I couldn't believe this book when I read it. Its claims were preposterous! God-made beginnings, dominion, sin and the fall; curses, blessings, serpents and devils, angelic messengers, prophets, a Messiah foretold. Silence...God-become-man, atonement for sin through death, the second birth and hope, eternal heavens and judgement to come. Great fiction, but real?
I didn't think so.
Until I learnt that this book is not just an ordinary book. I learnt that it's not really the greatest fiction ever written after all but the greatest truth. It is in fact entirely real and trustworthy.
What is your place in our story?
The Bible records our story. From creation to fall to redemption—we are a part of this crazy, magnificent, mind-boggling adventure. Examine what this book says for yourself. Consider the stories and characters and lessons; see what it tells us about ourselves and investigate the claims of Jesus.
Find your place in this glorious narrative. Will you stand with the beaten and scorned hero—the only Saviour of the world—or fall eternally with the villain?
Irenie How is young yet, by the grace of God, was saved while she was running away from and fighting against Him. God showed her that He is the Lord and she wants you to know this too. After becoming a Christian she finished studying to become a graphic designer and as this she currently works full-time in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Irenie How's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/irenie-how.html