Recently I did something I rarely do. I got 250 pages into a book and quit.
I had invested a lot of time, but I just couldn’t finish.
It was well written, compelling historical fiction about the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, but I could tell where the story was heading and I just couldn’t take any more narrative about bad, sad choices, no matter how factual the research was.
Do you ever feel weary of authentically depressing news? Disappointed or dismayed over person after person modeling less than noble behavior?
Over the past ten years we have put an increasingly high value on “authenticity”. We want speakers, leaders, pastors, writers who tell us the whole messy truth. We want vulnerability and transparency. No plastic saints thank you ma’am. This is a good thing.! A great thing even!
“Confess your sins one to another…” (James 5:16)
“The truth will set you free…” (John 8:32)
But the stories we’re telling aren’t the only stories to be told.
There are true accounts of courage and sacrifice and service.
Stories can be authentic, but also good and inspiring. Not perfect or formulaic, but capable of lifting our eyes and motivating us to become our better selves.
This past weekend John and I were at an event hosted by Opportunity International – an organization that gives micro-loans to the poor to start small businesses, lifting them out of poverty.
The CEO of Opportunity shared this story:
Arles Mina is a client of Opportunity who now makes cheese curds and sells them from a hole-in-the-wall storefront in Bogota, Colombia.
However, there’s more to the story.
A young loan officer found Arles on the streets of Bogota. He was a drug runner for Pablo Escobar and was high on drugs when they met. The loan officer told Arles that he had a future and insisted he take a loan to start a formal business so he could earn a living and work his way off the streets.
Now, Arles says, “Opportunity has made me who I am.”
Arles received a loan from Opportunity. He repaid it and got another loan, and another, and another, expanding his business. Now he employs 3 women.
3 widows whose husbands were killed by the drug cartel he used to serve.
This is an authentic story. A story of redemption.
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8
Yes, we should be informed, and the truth can be ugly, but what if we major on the kingdom stories of restoration, reconciliation and redemption so we may “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24)?