The Story Circle: Introduction

Friends, we have a treat for you; a longtime family friend and brother, Joshua Lenon, releases a book this month with Hosanna Revival. His passion for God’s story invigorates the soul and compels the heart to see with new eyes, and friends, once you see, there is no unseeing. Once your imagination soars with wonder through Josh’s words, you’ll never want to return to the ground. God’s story is more beautiful than you yet know. Taste and see! The Story Circle is imaginative, beautiful, true, and good. So, without further to do, here’s a sneak peek into Joshua Lenon’s The Story Circle:

The Story Circle: Introduction

Our story opens with these words:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Have you ever caught the and in there?

This story of the Bible is the story of Heaven and Earth. It is the story of two things, not one. And it has to be. Because this story, at its heart, is a love story. As we all know, a true love story is never about just one person. There are always two. A lover and a beloved. It is the story of Heaven and Earth because it is the story of God and Us.

Now, before you pull a Princess Bride and put this book down because it’s starting to sound like “a kissing book,” (here’s looking at you, Fred Savage), I want you to know this is a story unlike any other. It is a story you will find yourself in. It is one whole story that begins in a garden and ends in a garden. But between those beautiful bookends is a world that has gone tragically wrong. A world we know so very well—one full of loss, disappointment, depression, pain, and sadness. Yet, in the midst of it all is a great rescue that forever changed the course of my life. 

And, dear reader, it will change your life as well. 

It changed the life of Clive Staples Lewis. 

Many of us have read the great C. S. Lewis. His wardrobe tales of Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy captured our imaginations as young children. And those stories, like some Narnian spell woven into the books, seem to somehow grow deeper as we grow older. But what many of us may not know is the story of the night everything changed for Lewis himself.  

Lewis, simply known by his friends as “Jack,” rejected the faith of his youth. He simply could not accept that these stories were true. Like all the myths of old, these silly stories were, to him, mere fairy tales for children or foolishness for the naive.  

All of that changed one evening when Lewis and his close friend, J. R. R. Tolkien (yes, the Tolkien) were strolling through the gardens of Magdalen College in Oxford one windy, autumn evening. They talked of faith and the Bible, and of Jesus’ death and resurrection at the very center of it all. As they walked that night, and those dead leaves began to dance in the wind, something like a waking of the dead began to stir in Lewis’ own heart.

Tolkien, the great writer and poet that he was, told Lewis his understanding of Christianity, faith, and the Bible were all wrong. He began to share his faith in a way Lewis had never seen or heard before. Tolkien did not speak of the Bible as a great moral law code, complex doctrines, or, even worse, a self-help book full of great life tips. He spoke to Lewis as an author, telling the story of the Bible as the true story of the world. Tolkien said it was to this true story that all the great Greek myths of old and all the Norse mythologies of Balder were actually pointing, with their tales of tragedy, and death, and resurrection, and hope.  

Lewis retorted that all these stories were nothing more than “lies breathed through silver.” Or in everyday, ordinary English, these stories were beautiful, but they were all lying to us in the end. This is because the stories we read or watch tell us of a better world, a place where evil is undone and good wins in the end. Yet, we all know this can’t be true. 

Not in the real world. 
Not in this life. 
Not in our story. 

In our story, there is no happily ever after. Maybe that works for children, but not for adults who know the brutal reality of the real world. 

Tolkein turned to Lewis and said, “No. They’re not.” These stories—they are all true. They are true because they are pointing to the greater story of which Jesus is the center. “We have come from God,” Tolkien said, “and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, they reflect the splintered fragment of the true light reflected by God.”   

“You mean,” asked Lewis, “that the story of Christ is simply a true myth, a myth that works on us in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened? In that case, I begin to understand.”

When we begin to see all of our stories are glimpses of this bigger story, we start to understand what the writer of Ecclesiastes meant when he said, “he has put eternity into man's heart.” 

Eternity itself is buried in our hearts. And it is also buried in the hearts of our stories. 
In other words: all of these stories...they’re true.

They are not true in the way that we would read a New York Times piece. They are a deeper true. A truer true. They are true because the heart of all our stories is pointing to the heart of the one true story of our world. The story told to us in our Scriptures.

And while we do not know the great Greek myths of old or the Norse legends of Balder that Lewis and Tolkien would have shared, we do know our own myths, don’t we?

In Sleeping Beauty, we are told the truth that there is a kiss that will awaken us from death. The story of Moana reminds us that there is one who has crossed the horizon to find us, to bring back our hearts, and give back our true identity. Finding Nemo reminds us that no matter how far we’ve strayed from home, our Dad will come for us.  

Or what about Aladdin?

Not a clue. 

But Robin Williams was one impressive blue genie, am I right? 

Just kidding. What does Aladdin tell us? It says that the one no one expected—the overlooked one, the rejected one, the diamond in the rough—is the true prince whom we can trust.

Or my personal favorite, Beauty and the Beast, forces us to look into a mirror and ask ourselves the question we are all afraid to ask: “Who could ever learn to love a beast?” And page after page in the Bible, God shouts an answer from the heavens: “I do. I have always loved you, and my love will restore you and make you human again.”  

Now I know, I know...these are all Disney movies. You have to forgive me. I have two daughters under the age of nine, and Disney is about all we have right now. But, let me finish with one last story on this whirlwind tour through our modern-day myths: the great Netflix epic Stranger Things.

There is a reason this story has captivated so many of us with its retro 80s style. It goes beyond the nostalgia of our childhood and straight into the heart of eternity as we watch one named El step into the darkness of a world turned upside-down; face the evil that has set into its core, and bring things back to right again. 

When we were kids, we all wanted these stories to be true. Who am I kidding? We want them to be true right now. We want there to be something worth fighting for, something worth dying for, and more importantly, something worth living for. What we find when we come to the Bible is that these stories really are all true.

They are all pointing to the one true story. 

The story that is ours. The story of heaven and earth, torn apart in a great Fall. But also, the story of a God who loves us with a Never-Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love; who pursues us straight into the heart of that great divide held by Death itself and rescues us from that place to make us his own. 

And so it is essential that we get this story into our bones. That we know it, live it, and breathe it in. That we tell it to the next generation. And ultimately, that we would find ourselves in it. 

I do mean that in two ways:

This is a story you will find yourself in. You will be reminded of who you are and who you were originally created to be as a son or daughter of God. 

But you will also find yourself written into the story. This story is your story. It is our story. And you and I have a part to play in it. 

So we must begin where all good stories begin: In the beginning...
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Welcome to the story of Heaven and Earth.

Giveaway Details!

Last Thursday, we live streamed with Joshua Lenon about his new book, The Story Circle. This week, to celebrate Joshua’s release, we’re giving away all kinds of free stuff!

🏔There will be one winner; they will receive:
1 SIGNED copy of The Story Circle
1 TNF Journal
1 TNF Shirt
1 TNF Canteen
1 Compass Patch
1 TNF Banner Sticker

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