Part 5: The Epic Story

Part 5: The Epic Story

Robin purchased John Eldridge’s book titled Epic for me on the afternoon of July 17, 2005. The next day, Monday July 18, I read Epic on a long flight from Dallas-Ft Worth to Seattle. I was deeply moved. Epic is about God’s complete “story”, from beginning to end, of all history and future.

Eldridge tells the story in the context of God, life, death, and Jesus. Eldredge tells his story in four acts. Act one is the beginning…There is only God and the Word…and all was good. Act two is the introduction of evil. Pride enters Lucifer and he rebels against God. Act three is creation and the human experience…the fall, sin, and death. Act four is salvation and eternal life for those who love Jesus. I had never really understood what joy and peace in people with faith in Jesus was all about. As I read Epic, I think I was starting to understand. Without the life that exists beyond Act 3, this slow death that we live can only resemble Shakespeare’s lines in Macbeth

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow;
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day;
Until the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death;
Out out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow;
A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage;
And then is heard no more;
It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury;
Signifying nothing.

I memorized this poem at my mother’s request during a summer break in the early 1970s when I was about 15 years old. Mom wanted me to use part of my summer leisure to learn something with timeless value. At the time, this piece by Shakespeare just seemed depressing to me. I really did not understand what Macbeth was saying. Something about this poem struck a chord, however, because I would actually play it in my mind from time to time throughout my life. My mother is an important player in my story. I love my mother and I love the Italian heritage that she has given to me. I believe that she has always loved me as deeply as any human can and that this has allowed me to connect with her in a way that transcends physical presence and experience. I think that’s the way it is between a mother and her children. Eldridge used a piece of this same poem in Epic. 33 years after my mother first introduced me to this poem, Macbeth’s soliloquy had a whole new meaning. Nothing happens by accident.

As I pondered its meaning on my flight to Seattle, here is what I thought it meant. Without faith in Jesus we struggle in this life for a meaning, order, and peace that can never be. We struggle for love within an earthly and human context. We struggle because love and peace are what our innermost being longs desperately for. Here is the real problem. Without the eternal life that Jesus promises we can only see in the context of our current life, which is filled with conflict and ends with death. Without Jesus’ promise we become increasingly self-centered as our struggle causes us to strive ever harder for this elusive love and peace that we so long for and which cannot be. Without Jesus’ promise of eternal life we eventually tire of the struggle and lose hope. Without Jesus’ promise our quest for love and peace was always a futile hope anyway.

As I read Epic I think I experienced the feeling that comes from believing. It seemed like a flickering light but I felt it. I want to experience this more. When I arrived in Seattle I checked into the SeaTac Hilton, had lunch, and went to my room where I meditated and prayed. I prayed to God for the very first time and told Him that I wanted Him to come into my life. I asked God to forgive me for rejecting Him throughout my life. In that moment, I became a follower of Jesus Christ, believing He is the one and only living Son of God and that He came into this earth as a man with a divine mission to proclaim the kingdom of God and to teach us about God’s plan of salvation through Him, so that by faith in Him and His work we can have forgiveness and eternal life. I believe this because everything I learn and everything I experience draws me to this intuitive conclusion. God was working in me to believe. Nothing happens by accident. It was time for me to get off of the “agnostic” fence.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)