Yesterday I summarized The Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell’s brilliant analysis of epic stories. You’ll want to read that post before you tackle this one. Campbell outlined twelve universal story elements that every hero story flows through (though not always in order).
Today I want to reflect on the first five, with a twist:
What if you thought of yourself as the hero of your own story?
Me, a hero? You ask, doubtful. In part because, Isn’t Jesus supposed to be my hero?
Yes. Jesus Christ is the ultimate hero, the Saviour of the world and Lord of my heart. My intention here isn’t to displace God with you or me or anyone else, because we’re not up for the job. But stay with me. What if, on some level, you’re the hero, the noble protagonist of your own story?
Because that’s exactly what you are. So let’s see how that idea meshes with the first five steps in the hero’s journey.
1. The ordinary world.
Sounds about right. You’ve got a day job, a group of friends, maybe a church and a bowling league. Big whoop. If you’re anything like me, you dream of more. Of bigger fish to fry, of making a real difference in the world.
2. The call to adventure.
Well, guess what? God calls us into that greater life. Calls you. He does it through the Bible, through people, through circumstances, through the echoes of Eden still bouncing around in your heart. Don’t believe me? Pick up the book of Ephesians in the Bible and before you read a word, promise God: “I’m going to obey everything I read, live as though it’s all true, starting right now. No questions asked.” Uh….
3. Resisting the call.
That’s what I thought. See? I went through this exercise myself a couple days ago and when I thought about praying those words, my heart skipped a beat. Fear rose up within me. I started making excuses, rationalizing, talking about baby steps, you name it. In other words, I resisted the call.
4. The mentor.
This is where things get really personal. Chances are, God has already sent someone or several someones into your life to steer you straight. A pastor, a blog writer, an author, a friend, a spouse, maybe even your children. But God uses people, so look around. And listen. Your own personal ObiWan is probably already underfoot, trying to help you overcome your objections and excuses. Because ObiWans want people to accept the higher call. They work for God.
5. Crossing the Threshold.
This is the doorway into your new life, the point of no return, our surrender to the call, the act of obedience. This is where you accept Christ’s offer for eternal life, invite him to save and guide you. Or, if you’ve done that already, it’s when you erase the trash on your iPod God has been convicting you about, confess the sin you’ve been hiding, confront the injustice you’ve been ignoring, give the money you’re supposed to bless someone with, write the letter you promised yourself you’d send. You name it. It’s about action—irreversible, toothpaste-out-of-the-tube faith that changes your world once and for all.
This plot flow is found in classic stories and brings us to our feet in movies because it rings true to life. It also repeats itself a thousand times as we walk with Jesus. One threshold at a time.
Luke went with ObiWan. What are you gonna do?
What thoughts does this trigger for you? Can you locate yourself right now in the first half of the Hero’s journey?