My earliest recollection of story is my little Fisher Price cassette player. Our home had plenty of books, but my desire for words was insatiable at a young age.
My parents invested in a collection of books and cassettes and my little cassette player. They got the idea when a pair of large headphones kept me quiet for more than the usual 5.3 seconds as a toddler. I listened to those stories for hours.
“This is the story of (insert one of the fifty I possessed). You will know it is time to turn the page when you hear the chimes ring like this (insert the best of ’80’s chimes sound effect). Let’s begin now.”
and 10 minutes later:
“You just listened to the story of (insert previous story name). If you would like to hear it again, just turn the cassette over.”
So I did.
I remember one exception. Rainbow Brite. (If you were born after 1985, you can skip this part. It will make no sense.) I loved Rainbow and her horse, Starlight, and her courage. The little sprites delighted me, and the idea of a colorful world brought joy to my little 3-year-old heart.
But there were also Murky and Lurky. As soon as the ominous music began announcing their arrival, I would hurriedly hit Stop with my heart pounding. I must have overcome my fear at some point, because I recall their part in the story. But I vividly remember pushing that big red button and wondering what came next but feeling too afraid to find out.
Many times that has been the theme of my life. When I have control of the buttons, I push the red Stop, trying to avoid all the evil characters and the fearful themes.
But I’m learning more and more that I have control of the story less and less. You see, pushing the red button did not make the evil in the story go away. It was still there even when I chose to ignore it. It was still there when curiosity overcame me, and I pressed the green button again.
God is writing out each one of our stories. We push the buttons and pretend that we have control. At best, we are just prolonging the inevitable. A depressing thought? Not exactly.
For me to get to the happy ending that characterized every Rainbow Brite story, I had to go through the fearful parts. I had to live through Murky and Lurky’s attempts to drain the color from the world in order to get to the part where Rainbow Brite and her gang put all to rights again.
In the story of life, there will be a happy ending. However, in order to get there, we may just have some Murky and Lurky, colorless moments. Or days. Or decades.
Wherever I happen to be in the story, I want to keep my finger off the red button. As the story plays, God is working. And I don’t want to miss His happy ending.