“You are one of the stories God wants to tell in the world.” - Donald Miller
Last month I had the great privilege to attend Donald Miller’s first-ever Storyline Conference in Portland, OR. If you don’t know who Donald Miller is, get yourself a copy of Blue Like Jazz, stat. Miller is speaking for a generation of young believers and seekers (as well as middle-aged ones like myself) through his blog and several books, and soon through the screen version of Blue. Nearly 500 people flew in from all over the continent to hear Miller explain why we can all live a better story with our lives.
The conference was based on Miller’s 2009 book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. The book chronicles how Miller decided to live a better life using the elements of story writing.
In Portland he laid out for attendees how to plot out both the negative and positive story turns of our lives and showed how those turns can be used by God to create good. He asked us to figure out who we are and what skill set God gave us. He also encouraged us to pay attention to our daydreams, because what’s on our heart is on God’s heart, and they may be the direction God wants us to head in our lives.
Miller used his gift of storytelling to share tales of people who are making a serious difference in the world. Through Miller’s career he has been blessed to meet many people who are telling stories of kindness and compassion through their actions. In addition, Miller interviewed guests on stage to share their stories of how they are helping others.
Storyline wasn’t about evangelism, but I couldn’t help but make the connection. After all, if God is telling a story through our lives, then he means for that story to be “read” by others around us. What story are we telling about God to others with our actions?
My next question is, are we prepared to tell others – not just show them - God’s part in our story?
Apparently about a billion of us were watching the 33 Chilean miners being rescued from the San Jose Mine this week (a great week for Kleenex!). What amazing stories those miners told, and will continue to tell.
I still tear up when I think of the one miner who said that there were 34 miners trapped because God was always with them. Another miner said he was with the devil and with God, and he chose God. Down in the mine the men worshipped and prayed together, led by one miner who served as their spiritual leader throughout the ordeal.
As each one emerged from the depths of the earth, the miners’ unabashedly told stories to all of us of how God made a difference in their lives going through a terrible calamity. They didn’t edit themselves worrying about what non-believers would think. They just told their stories of how God made a difference in their lives.
Near the conclusion of the Storyline conference, Miller used a quote from Robert McKee, famed Hollywood screenwriting guru. It’s aimed at writers, but it works for all of us as we “write” the stories God wants us to tell:
“Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear.”
Every day we get a chance to write a new and better story and share it with the world. And because of our faith, we can share that story without fear.
Miller sent us off with this benediction: “May you tell beautiful stories.”
The Storyline Conference is being repeated January 23 – 24, 2011, in Portland. Details aren’t up yet, but you can keep checking at thestorylineconference.com. And if you’re a fan of Blue Like Jazz, check out the amazing story that’s being told about how the movie is getting made at savebluelikejazz.com. It’s already the largest crowdsource-financed movie in history, and is on its way to collecting the most amount of donations for a creative project on kickstarter.com.