Why the “Story Pirates” Bring Smiles as Wide and Deep as the Sea

Maya Angelou, the renowned poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Honestly, upon discovering and writing this truism, the breadth and depth of its insight made it very difficult for me to continue serving-up this Training Table plateful. As though I saw so many tens-of-thousands of dejected faces, sad, mostly young souls, flash through my mind in a kaleidoscope of images, I had to stand up from my desk, take a deep, shuttering breath, and walk outside.

I wonder if anyone else at the table is also dumbfounded and shot through by the simplicity yet profundity of this insight into the nature of what it means to be human: A fallen Image Bearer of God; playing a key role in the grandest of all stories; yet unknown to him or her self… in agony… and yet sensing the subverted ecstasy at the same time.

As I tell the story of my childhood in my book, The Weeping, the Window, the Way, of the three elements of the perfect storm of criticism, shame, and anonymity, it was feeling anonymous—devoid of any sense of my story or of its temporal or eternal worth—that was nearly the death of me.

The number of times over my early lifetime I should have been destroyed or destroyed myself… and didn’t purely by God’s grace… has been played back in my memory hundreds of times. Have these tapes been played repeatedly for self-gratification or a “martryistic masochism” of some kind?

No. It’s to help me stay on the extremes of the Gospel: That I am more SINFUL than I could ever imagine, and yet more LOVED than I could ever hope for.

It’s because God has blessed me beyond all reckoning by taking me back to the chards of my childhood, and then piecing together my story in a way that brings glory to Him—far, far beyond what I could ever try and explain to someone.

But I tell my story anyway… because I know what Soren Kierkegaard said is truly true, “What is most personal is most universal”. Humankind makes the most significant connections by means of their stories. The “elemental” parts of our stories connect us to every other soul on the planet.

I’m not talking about the made-up, fictional version someone or ourselves have created, but the personal, intimate narrative the God of the Bible knows and loves—and deeply desires we know as well.


This process (knowing our story, being open to its reality, inviting God into the details, and then co-shaping our destiny) is what St. Paul described as, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

“…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” is an untranslatable phrase that might go something like this:

Even after our story has been begun again after being born again as a new creation (John 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17), we must REMEMBER go back to piece together all the rest of our HISTORY: To see OUR-story as part of HIS-story!

NOTE: “forgetting what lies behind” involves being secure in Christ first while also remembering and knowing each part of our story—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and, a) praising Jesus in the happy memories, and/or b) praising Jesus in the wounds having been seen, forgiven, redeemed, healed, replaced by His person and power… and then being used for His glory and other’s blessings as we, “reach forward to what lies ahead”.

Please consider re-reading the above attempt to help us embrace our reality under “the grander reality” of what God has done in Christ. This perspective of what our stories involve is a vitally important principle and process—the implications of which could easily take a book or three to fully realize and live-out.

“reaching forward to what lies ahead”… DEVOID OF “…forgetting what lies behind” is a flip-flop of leading and lagging indicators; a life lived out of context; a story without a narrative; footnotes without references; “Guernica” without World War II; a poem with no author; love and truth sans God; a child without parents… a home… anonymous… in agony.

God’s Creative Panoply, Our Plot, and Place in Eternity
Now, I try to tell my story anyway because it usually finds connections to someone else’s story. Moreover, it’s such an encouragement to most anyone whom may have no idea of NOT ONLY what their story consists of—but, more importantly—how free, unique, and loved they are by the God of the Bible and His story as the larger tapestry in which their story is providentially and intricately woven into.

We creatures that will last for an eternity will all be set in a larger narrative as well! God leaves no connection unconnected.

The Story and Blessing of “Story Pirates”

“Story Pirates” is a very powerful and wonderful effort being done by folks who NOT ONLY get the structure and importance of  STORY, but how MOST IMPORTANT are the young people who benefit immensely from the journey.

This is not easy to say:  We live in a deeply narcissistic culture which, among other destructive things, has PIRATED AWAY the intimate, personal, and uniquely special attributes that God has endowed each child with—and the story he or she brings to a broken world to redeem in equally unique ways.

Far too many children are living as mere projections of their parent’s unfulfilled dreams, guilt’s, “ought’s”, “bad parenting pendulum swing’s”, and misshapen ego’s. It’s complicated… but not too much so for God to redeem ANY story.

I am not by any stretch taking myself out of this category of “parental narcissism”—as discussed in my book. But I have seen the light… And it’s awesome!

To bring this very rich, complex, and hope-filled offering to a close, please considering doing three things to help digest and live out this Training Table feast—to help us “run the good race” (Hebrews 12:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24):

First, re-read the Maya Angelou quote, my brief description of my own life, and the verses by Paul to the Church in Philippi. Is there anything that comes to mind about your story? What sorts of emotions are associated with the knowing or not knowing of your story? Have you done some piecing together of your history—in order to see HIS STORY in your own STORY? Are you willing and/or hopeful to begin?

Second, take some time to look at the “Story Pirates” YouTube video. Make special note of the expressions and the emotions associated with how the kids respond to the journey—especially when an adult gets down to their level, looks them in the eye, and stay engaged with them… loving, encouraging, and teasing out each special soul’s story.

Third, if you feel any regret—in regards to being unaware of your own story or having been less than lovingly other-centered with your kid’s story—please begin a new chapter by first praying for God’s forgiveness and help, praising Him for the same, as well as requesting a trusted friend’s help in creating the first draft of your renewed story!

Resources like Dan Allender’s book, To Be Told can help a great deal.

The God we know, love, and offer all praise to is, amongst other attributes, The God Redemption: There is no story God cannot re-write—with our cooperation—because it is in the very re-writing where God is most awesomely glorified and seen for the creative and transforming God above all gods that He is!

A time is coming soon when all drafts will come due, and no more re-writes will be possible (Revelations 21). Please do not presume upon God’s long-suffering mercies in the “multi-draft process”… until it’s too late.

When eternity comes—whether today through death or when Jesus returns—The Story will be consummated. “But not yet…!” (Yuba, Gladiator). Continue or begin “today…” (Psalm 95:7-8).

See you all soon back at the Training Table. Be sure you’re running the good race, so you’ll have an appetite for more of God’s good vittles—served up by a servant chef who knows full well that a story well told is a timeless treasure and a gift from God.

Know your story. Be your story. It’s all of God’s glory. He experienced the agony, so we don’t have to!


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