The past few months, I’ve taken more time to indulge one of the favorite activities—reading for pleasure. I love a good story, and I’ve found many books over the years that I read again and again. But sometimes, the mind craves something fresh, so lately I’ve been reading books by authors who are new to me.
I have always had a soft spot for stories based on fairy tales, and I’ve found several lately that have some relation to Beauty and the Beast. There is something deeply moving in the Beauty and the Beast tale that I love to see played out in new stories—the bravery of a young woman taken from her home, the pain of a man wounded by his own vanity, and the power of redeeming love.
I’ve enjoyed reading these books, but I’ve been frustrated at times, too. All the authors succeeded in creating fascinating new worlds and sympathetic main characters, but some of them missed one of the most important elements of good story-telling. The main character of the story should have a purpose. They should have a goal—something they want to achieve to change the difficult circumstances of their story and find a happy ending.
In some stories, the main character just reacts to her circumstances. Something bad happens—she reacts. Something threatens her—she reacts. Her new situation is beyond her control—she feels sorry for herself and waits for something else to change. She may act bravely or selflessly at times when she’s forced to act, but she has no end goal in sight other than to someday be happy or be free. Because she fails to form a goal and actively work toward changing her circumstances, the story lacks power.
Does that sound like anyone you know in real life? Could I be describing your own life?
So many people go through life without having a real purpose—an end goal. Even Christians can fall into that trap. We want to be happy. We want to be safe, to have enough money, to have fun, to take care of our families. We work to make ourselves as comfortable as possible in our current circumstances, and we make some plans for the future. But we don’t think much about the end of the story. Do we know what the “happily-ever-after” of our story should look like or what we can do to achieve it?
If getting to heaven is our end goal, we can do whatever our religious convictions tell us is needed to get there. If we’ve said the “sinner’s prayer,” been baptized into the church, followed the rules, and generally lived a good life, we can sit back and concentrate on our current happiness. But what if there’s more to the story than that? What if we’ve been called to be part of a bigger story that has a bigger end-goal than just our individual comfort and eternal security?
The Bible tells us that God has a purpose, and we have been given a part to play in accomplishing that purpose:
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’” (Isaiah 46:10).
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
And he gives his guarantee that the end of the story will be good:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
So, what is your purpose? If you aren’t sure, this would be a good time to ask. Pray about it. Read your Bible. Learn all you can about God’s bigger story and the part you can play. Then find one thing God is asking you to do and do it. If you want a life of purpose, that's the best way to begin!
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Stories are a metaphor for life. That's a deep way of saying we can learn life lessons from stories we read or watch on stage or on big or small screens. When viewed through a Christian worldview, even secular films and books can tell us something about our Christian walk. Here you will find a collection of blog posts with lessons I have learned from stories. I hope you enjoy them!