Knowing the Story

admiring_the_galaxyIn the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1, (The first verse of the Bible)

I like a good short story and if the story is true or realistic as in “it could happen”, I like it even more. When it really did happen, I am usually “glued” to the details. Even in the genres of fantasy, horror, and comedy; if it makes sense or mimics real life, I will most likely watch it.

There is more than one way to know a story or happening.

  • The most ancient method is word of mouth. Even today, all these thousands of years later through the course of human written history, the most effective way to understand what happened in a story is word of mouth.
  • Another method is an eyewitness account. If you were to go back in time to the very first legal case, you would find that accusation had to be supported by two or more witnesses. Both the conclusions drawn from multiple perspectives and the complementary details of the story are what bring the prosecutor’s conclusions and eventually the ruling by the one sitting as judge.
  • Yet another method is a first person account, this is a person that personally knew the persons involved in the story or who had intimate details unknown by anyone else.
  • How about one more? Occasionally, one’s knowledge of a story leads to hiding the person in a protective way so as not to bring them harm for what they know, why they know or how they came to know the events of the story. Stories that demonstrate these characteristics are usually called conspiracy theories or involve some form of covertness.

At any rate, what fascinates me the most about each one of these is once the story is known more fully, the perceptions change, attitudes adjust and there is this resounding “Oh!” A normal feeling or response that can follow such revelations is: “If we would have known that from the beginning we would not have wasted all this time” or “Boy, I am glad I did not know those things.” Have you ever noticed how much time is spent getting to the bottom of the story only to find out that we were looking at the story from the wrong angle or perspective?

What is it about knowing the story that is so relieving, frightening, or comforting? I know that on more than one occasion, I have felt satisfaction in knowing the outcome or the details of a story or happening. I find myself saying things like, “Well, that makes sense” or “I see now why they made that decision”. If my response is due to personal judgments I passed or decisions I made base on the earliest and incomplete information, I tend to make excuses, feel guilty, or even get frustrated at the person or situation.

eyeofgodAll of these reflections beg the question, is it possible to know 100% of the information surrounding the events of any story?

I don’t think so. I can think of several examples where 100% of the information was not known and zero examples where 100% of the information about a story was known. In fact almost every retelling of a story is out of context in some way. Another side to this part of our discussion, is when actual or real information regarding the story is dismissed, ignored, trivialized, or otherwise inadmissible. Even as I write this paragraph, I am awe struck by why God’s Mercy, Grace, and Forgiveness are not only offered to us but are needed.

Basically, everywhere I go and everything I do and everything I say and everything I think is taken out of context by others. I then return the favor by jumping to conclusions based on my perceptions, knowledge, experience, and my own context. Is it any wonder why pastors use so much time retelling old stories, counselors take so much time getting to earliest events of our lives, scientists conduct so many experiments, and why first responders (to include Soldiers) spend so much time training?

As a minister, contextual criticism is both important and necessary. In order to properly exegete a scripture or properly represent God’s word with research and hermeneutics, I must do my best to stay within the context of the scripture considered when it was written. No matter how hard we strive as ministers to be contextual, we will never quite make it. One of the largest reasons being, we were not physically present in biblical times.

Added to God’s Mercy, Grace, and Forgiveness, we must consider giving and sharing in the benefit of the doubt. When I give someone the benefit of the doubt, I am practicing great mental health because what I am really saying is “I am not you, and could not possibly understand what it is like to be you.” In counseling, we call that differentiation. Both in counseling, in the news, with family members, among friends, on social media…basically everywhere I turn, I see an incredible lack or ability or desire or care to give others the benefit of the doubt. It is a lost art and one we would do well to add to our daily character as fellow sojourners in this world.

Therefore, what we are truly saying is “when you think you know the story and don’t you want the benefit of the doubt, but when you know the story and others don’t you refuse to give the benefit of the doubt.” In drama this is what we affectionately call a “Tragedy”. In society, we would say it is a travesty. When happening to us, we would say it is unfair.

What do you think will happen once you know the story of life as God knows it or reveals. Is it possible that you may realize the reasons God has done what He has done makes perfect sense? God too deserves the benefit of the doubt. Do you know the story?

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” – Revelation 22:21 (the last verse of the Bible)

 

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.