So what do we make of everything? Is God going to remake . . .
Music? Of course.
Comic books? I think so.
Circuses? Yes, all right.
Tex-Mex? I can’t imagine how it could get better, but yes.
Chocolate? Darn tootin’.
Quinoa? No, I think this will become bacon.
Cats? See quinoa, above.
But dogs and the Swiss Alps and everything in between? A thousand times yes.
In the introduction of the book (which comes at the end of the book, and you’ll just have to read it to understand why), Jared C. Wilson lays out this witty, yet entirely serious answer to a fundamental question we all have: Where does _______ fit into God’s plan for the world?
In The Story of Everything, Wilson takes time to unpack why he can answer these questions about sports, circuses, and dogs with confidence. In fact, each chapter is devoted to a subsection of life. At the heart of every chapter is an unfolding of a better understanding of God’s plan, so Wilson starts with God’s overarching plan (ch. 1), then addresses God’s plan specifically for history (ch. 2), creation (ch. 3), nations (ch. 4), art, sciences, and work (ch. 5), evil (ch. 6), pain (ch. 7), fun (ch. 8), romance, marriage, and sex (ch. 9), and you (ch. 10). There really is a story to everything, and not only should we think about these things and how they affect our lives, but we should celebrate these things and wait with eager hope for God’s plan to be fulfilled day by day.
In opening the book, Wilson talks a lot about humanity’s universal desire to search for life outside of earth. Whether we’re highly speculative conspiracy theorists or casual watchers of sci-fi movies, “we’re all really trying to solve two fundamental human problems: loneliness and insignificance.” Back up a second and think about the Fall. Eve feared insignificance, and the lie that she was missing out on a life of significance led her to take of the fruit. Adam feared potential loneliness if he rejected Eve’s persistent offer, so he took of it as well. These two fundamental problems helped usher in a lifestyle of sin. Our idol-factory hearts are summed up well by our search for extra-terrestrial life; driven by these two polarizing fears, we search helplessly for an answer, any solution that suffices.
As Wilson suggests, he’s got the answer we need. It’s not a mathematic formula or a conspiracy theory. It’s a simple understanding of who God is and what he has made us to be:
Mankind’s joy is inextricably connected to God’s glory. [W]hat determines whether you are totally fulfilled and saved from ultimate despair is what you do with God’s glory…Mankind is meant to enjoy God through engagement with him and reflection of him in creation.
This affects everything, as Wilson will draw out for us. Literally everythingcomes into focus through the lens of God’s plan. It all begins with God’s cultural mandate for the earth, as he commands Adam and Eve to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). This is for his glory. So is God’s plan and purpose for sin, salvation, sanctification, suffering…but even for sports, streets, salsa, and sunshine.
This book is important, for a few reasons. First, it reorients our focuses, our hopes, and our anticipations back onto our unwavering, sovereign God. In the tense, frustrating seasons of life, no matter how longstanding and strong our relationship with God is, most of us have a natural, sin-filled reaction to our circumstances: Why? The more we work to remember that not only does God have a purpose, but that it cannot be thwarted, we will find rest, trust, and faith come easier. Second, it shows us just how important the glory of God is for not only our worship of him, but our life on earth. Wilson writes:
Lest we think [God being the point of everything] is a really a raw deal for us, we ought to remember that the gospel that proclaims God’s glory in Christ does so precisely through our redemption in Christ. The story is not about us, but it is for us! Therefore, if we are bringing glory to Jesus, not a thing about us is wasted, because the mission of the Spirit of God is to maximize the glory of Christ over all the universe.
God didn’t have to send his only son to die for us, but he did. The grace shown to us in this action alone is insurmountable. Even after this, he could have paid the debt and left us to live miserable lives on a miserable planet for eternity. But he took it a step further. He gave us gifts. He gave us glimpses of his glory in an amazing steak, a rich wine, sex in marriage, and views from beaches and mountains. And he left us with a promise. Christ is coming again, and what we thought was glorious in this life will soon seem like stale, disgusting imitations of what we’ll have eventually in the new heaven and new earth. Not only this, but evil will be squashed, pain will be erased, and King Jesus will reign eternally. That’s someone worth our worship. Not worship reserved for a couple hours on Sunday mornings. This gives us reason to look at both our lovely spouse and our impossible boss with the same mindset: “God is good.”
Jared C. Wilson is one of my favorite authors. If you’ve read his stuff before,The Story of Everything won’t seem very provocative or innovative. That’s okay. He’s not in the business of new perspectives. He preaches the same old gospel to us with each book, and that’s all we need. The beauty about Wilson’s writing is that while each book is held together by the same thread of God’s amazing grace, I find that each book is helping me realign my affections and rhythms better to Christ in its own unique way. If you’ve never read this stuff, what a great place to start with this book! All of his writings funnel back to the ideas found in The Story of Everything.
I won’t quote it totally here (to give you perhaps a little more incentive to read this book), but the final two pages of the book were some of the most touching, poetic, and refreshing words that have stirred my heart in a while. I don’t cry much reading, but I did here. Maybe it was because the Spirit let these words fly off the page because my soul needed to hear it. Maybe it was because Jared is such a gifted communicator, a true wordsmith. I’d say it’s a bit of both. He talks about how Genesis 1 “lays the groundwork for the new creation work of salvation. Step by step it foreshadows the work God does in a through us by the power of the gospel.” Don’t skip ahead to this section. Learn the secret of the universe in the previous chapters first, then proceed.
Let this book encourage you to fixate on Jesus Christ and the magnificence of his glory. Let it soak you in an unshakable confidence in God’s plan. Let it cause you to tremble in worship. Let Wilson help you see the story better.
Note: I was provided this book by Crossway via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.