The True Myths That Keep Me Coming Back to God

The word myth often conjures up the idea of epic fantasy tales or of commonly held beliefs that need debunking. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary defines myth as both “a fictitious or imaginary person or thing” and “a widely held but false belief or idea.”

The dictionary also defines myth as “a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.” The word derives from the Greek mythos which simply means “story.”

And that is what I think of when I think of myth: I think of story. I think of narrative. So when I use the word myth to describe the Bible, I’m not saying it’s not true – because I most certainly believe it is true. Rather, when I say the Bible is myth, I’m saying that it’s full of stories that infuse meaning into our lives and that it is, in actuality, one overarching Story.

The God of the Bible audaciously makes a world, joyfully populates it with creatures, and then willingly redeems those creatures from sin and death. This story is unlike any story humans have ever told. Indeed, the Bible’s uniqueness among world myths is one reason I believe it, love it, and base my life on it.

In the tug-of-war that is faith and doubt, we could look at the scientific evidence for a creator. We could examine the historical evidence for Jesus walking the planet. We could scrutinize the evidence for his Messiahship in the form of fulfilled prophecies. All those things are necessary and beneficial. But sometimes when doubt and despair creep in, we need something else too: we need the medicine of myth. We need the salve of story.

Story is certainly what keeps me coming back to the Bible. I exult in its creation story: the God who made the cosmos not out of violence as the ancient Greek and Mesopotamian cultures believed, but out of nothing. I cherish the God who brings order to chaos instead of inciting that chaos himself. I delight in the God who created man not for servitude but for relationship.

Even more than its creation story, however, what keeps me coming back to the Bible is its salvation story. Over and over I return to a God who rescues His people Himself. Who doesn’t ask them to do it on their own but who enters their world and does it for them. Other belief systems depend on people to earn salvation through sufficient sacrifice or flawless adherence to rules, but this Deity is different.

The fact that the creation story and salvation story, in particular, differ so widely from other religious traditions testifies to me that they were not formed by human hands. They originated from another Author altogether. But while the creation and salvation stories stand as cornerstones of my faith, they are not the only Biblical stories that speak to my core longings.

There is Eden, and there is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. There is the call of Abraham out of paganism and the promise to bless all of humanity through him. There is God caring for Hagar in the desert, asking where she came from and where she was going. There is God freeing His people from Egypt in the story of the Exodus – the central story of the Old Testament.

There is Ruth and there is Rahab: women and outsiders being invited into the family of God. There are the pagan Magi being invited into the Incarnation story. There is Jesus healing the man born blind and Jesus healing the paralyzed man. There is Jesus healing the woman with the bleeding disorder and Jesus raising the little girl from the dead.

There is Jesus being gloriously transfigured on a mountainside and Jesus calming a sea-storm. There is Jesus speaking to the rich, overly confident young man, and there is Paul speaking to the pagans on Mars Hill, inviting everyone to worship this heretofore unknown God. There is Jesus eating breakfast by the sea with His disciples, yes even the one who denied Him, and there is Mary Magdalene – a woman — first at the Resurrection.

These, and other stories, capture my heart and stir my soul. They are powerful stories that speak to human desire, and they differ vastly from the stories of other religions. When I feel far from God, it’s generally not the intellectual evidence, solid though it may be, that drives me back to God.

Rather, it is the story evidence that brings me back. It is the unique nature of the stories of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the unique love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost that keep me coming back for more.

What Biblical stories keep drawing you back? Which core longings do those stories speak to? What other ways do you counter your doubt?

7 Comments

  1. Annalisa November 12, 2017

    Esther.
    She was just a normal woman like so many of us. She had nothing to recommend her. Her life was destined to be normal, poor, and, if Haman had had his way, short. But God brought her from that quiet and normal life to stand before and be selected by the king. He took a woman who probably previously thought of little besides her household duties and used her to save a nation. And maybe He won’t raise me to something so glorious–in fact, I’m betting on it–but He gives my life purpose and direction.

    1. Elizabeth November 14, 2017

      Esther’s story is very inspiring! I love how it gives you so much hope and purpose.

  2. Amy Young November 13, 2017

    Joseph is a story I return to again and again. He had such highs and lows. He sometimes was the creator of his problems (I get that) and also “suffered” at the hands of others accusations (I get that in ministry, our lives are also influenced by so many outside forces), and loved his family, but spent many years separated from them.

    1. Elizabeth November 14, 2017

      Oh man did he suffer! You’re right, the suffering was somewhat related to his own actions, but in many ways he was also NOT guilty. And Joseph really had a long time to wait to see “visible” answers from God. I think I need that patience in my own life. . . .

  3. Heather Henson November 15, 2017

    The story of Anna the prophet! She had been widowed just 7 years into her marriage and was now in her 80s. I can only imagine the intimacy of relationship with God that she enjoyed given that she lived in the Temple and worshipped God with fasting and prayer every day. Her sensitivity to God would have been so finely tuned that she recognised the infant Jesus as Immanuel God with us. She passionately shared the news of Jesus’ birth with all those who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. Anna’s story—her faith and devotion to God—is so inspiring for me!

    1. Elizabeth November 16, 2017

      Oh definitely Anna. When I think of her I wonder what kind of woman she had to be to get herself out of the way and hear God like that (sometimes I have difficulty differentiating my voice from God’s voice) and to wait so patiently (I am not so great at waiting patiently!). That is one amazing woman.

      1. Heather Henson November 17, 2017

        I agree with you on the “getting out of the way and waiting so patiently” bit! When there are so many different voices all clamouring for our attention it can sometimes be very challenging to choose to “come away with Jesus” and be still.

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