In general, my personality is such that it is difficult for me to start something I don't think I'll be good at, and nearly impossible for me to begin if I'm “sure” it won't work. It seems like a waste of time and effort.
So the new Bible study topic our group just started is particularly interesting to me. It's about finding the Messiah in the Old Testament. We all have a pretty good idea of the Messiah in the New Testament – Jesus was born a man even though he was also God, so that he could take the death penalty for sin for all people, and we could once more be reunited with our God and Creator. We know He did that because He loves us and doesn't want us to be separated from Him.
I knew the Old Testament is full of prophecies of the coming Messiah, Jesus. But when we started at the beginning, we found the first prophecy that there would be a Savior coming to redeem us in the third chapter of the Bible. Hardly anything had happened yet in terms of the history of mankind, and already God made mention of His plan to deliver us from our sin. In fact, as our Bible study leader Doug pointed out, after Adam and Eve sinned God explained how we would be redeemed before he even told Adam and Eve what their punishment would be!
While we can't be sure if Lucifer defied God and was kicked out of heaven before or after God created the world and mankind, we do know Lucifer had already fallen at some point after Adam and Eve were living in peace and without sin in the Garden of Eden. And that's another piece of the story most of us know – Lucifer, as a serpent in the Garden, encouraged Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the only tree God told Adam and Eve not to eat from. So mankind, as well and Lucifer and some of the angels, also fell from God's grace.
Now here is the part that has my head spinning. God is all-knowing, so He knew what was going to happen, knew we would disobey Him and knew He had to have a plan of redemption ready, and He went through with the whole thing anyway! He created us in His image, loved us from day one, knew we would turn our backs on Him and break His heart, but he created us anyway!
John and I chose not to have children for a lot of reasons, but one of them was that we weren't sure we would be good parents, and one was that we didn't want the heartbreak that having children seems to bring. God knew long before we all did what heartbreak children can bring and He chose to have children anyway. That's just shocking and amazing to me. I can't see myself ever starting something I knew wouldn't work.
But then I think about all the books and stories I write. The whole point of a great piece of genre fiction is showing how seriously messed up things can get, and how it can work out in the end. A person can start out lonely and alone and be a large chunk of their own problem, but they can find love in the end. They can start out cut off from their family and hiding from the world and discover that they have super powers that can help make the world a better place. They can be kidnapped, forced to denounce everything that's important, and still beat the devil in the end.
So many stories reflect the Big Picture Story of Mankind – life seems to start out well for the protagonists, then something trips them up and/or all hell breaks loose, and suddenly it's hard to believe life can ever be good again. It's hard to believe the protagonists will even survive, let alone find peace and happiness again. But there is always a plan that includes a satisfying and happy ending.
And like any good author, God figured out the plan to bring about a happy ending before he even started bringing the story to life.
Still wrapping my mind around that. But in addition to the hope this kind of grand design gives us all, I feel more hopeful as a writer of stories. I'm going to go start a new story that I “know” won't work. The protagonist's life is all messed up and I'm not sure yet how I'm going to help her fix it. Characters are going to die. Readers might not even like the story. The book may not be bought by a publisher. It may not work.
But I have a new burst of courage to try.