“It's important to realize that stories of pain and failure are in us and all around us, because they have been with us from the dawn of humanity. They are the stories written throughout our Scripture. From the opening book of the Bible we come across stories that might be written in our headlines:
‘Brother Murders Brother in a Fit of Jealous Rage’
‘Spiritual Leader Discovered Drunk and Naked in His Home’
‘Husband’s yes Place Wife in Danger of Sexual Assault’
‘Militants Kidnap Family during Raid’
‘Wife Lets Husband Father a Child with the Maid’
‘Gang of Men Attempt to Rape a Man’s Guests’
‘Two Daughters Impregnated by Inebriated Father’
‘Twin Brother Deceives Blind Father and Steals from Absent Brother’
‘Man in Polygamous Household Faces Constant Family Strife’
‘Mass Slaughter Perpetrated by Brothers to Avenge Sister’s Rape’
‘Eldest Son Sleeps with His Father’s Lover’
‘Jealous Brothers Sell Younger Brother into Slavery’
These are only a sampling from Genesis. As the scriptural story unfolds, the depths of humanity’s selfishness and depravity unfold as well. What’s more, the individuals involved in these tragedies are ordinarily not outside the community of believers. They are church folks. They know who the true God is. They worship at his alter or tabernacle, and they have received his blessings. Often they are the political or spiritual leaders of the nation. These same people tell lies that detail relationships. They cheat and steal, trick and murder. They get drunk, get angry, get even. And when they do, there is inevitable fallout. They harm themselves, and their families are usually collateral damage.
One of the most shocking aspects of the biblical story is that we find no whitewash on these narratives. No editing out of embarrassing scenes from the recorded lives of God’s children. No excuses for why they acted the way they did, nor pointing out of extenuating circumstances. Generation of generation of readers are exposed to the raw, unfiltered truth of the people of God as they were breaking bad...
They’re the core story of who they—and we—are. We’re homo incurvatus in se, man turned in on himself. And as in the lives of biblical people, so in our daily lives, we have a God who is turned outward toward us. He searches for the lost sheep and rejoices to carry it home. The Shepherd comes to us in our tears and confusion, as we hold in our hands the shattered remains of the lives we once new, and begins his most important work in our hearts.”
—Excerpted from “Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul” by Chad Bird (Eerdmans, 2017).