magnum opus

by Elizabeth de Barros

We are nervous about the big stories.

But we can’t live without at least one,
because when all metanarratives are stripped away,

we become homeless, hopeless, and meaningless.

—Tim Gallant

THE METANARRATIVE — not what postmoderns hijacked and destroyed with all their littler stories, but the plane curve of history as laid out in Scripture, with Jesus Christ as the fulcrum upon Whom the universe rests. That one.

It’s taken me years to get here, to actually straighten up and fly right on this trajectory. There’s no exact moment to which I can owe, really, but at some point God added enough pixels to help me see beyond the blur; understand my bit part in the BIG story.

It’s done me in — but in a good way.

Done with clutching the clumps of sand beneath my toes, hanging on too tightly. No more hoarding time, as if it belonged to me. Now, when I stand on the banks of eternity and give a hard look, it’s easier to accept my insignificance. Life isn’t about numbers, anyway. No tally sheet, scorecard, ratings. Nobody to compete against. I’m running for the prize of the upward call, panting with every footfall:

“Each of us will give an account of himself to God…”

Serious marathoners train hard to reach their goal.

It’s good to be through with the rat race, the Joneses, the spiritual carpal tunnel that comes from reaching for things that never soothe. Acquiring things for the sake of having them is a miserable business. Counting and cramming is no way to live.

I’m caught up in something far grander.

And I’m well aware that tomorrow everything could change. Drastically. A tornado could blow away my house from its foundation, maybe a 747 jet engine will nosedive into the livingroom, or eating wrong chicken might land me in the ER for a few unhappy hours. All this, while the media stretches its neck to inform the public of the potential threat of EMPs. Clearly, our nation’s vulnerabilities have the better of us; the GRID Act passed within months of proposal.

Perhaps the real issue is that some problems are too big for men to solve.

But I don’t live there — in the fear. I’m relying on something higher, deeper, wider. If the ground should open up and swallow me whole, then ‘How vast the love of God’ will be my meditation. How can I do otherwise? Is the hope to which I’ve been called quantifiable? All I know is that I live in a place of deep, burgeoning joy that one day I will see my heavenly Father’s face, and He’s going to wipe the last tear rolling down the cheek of mine.

Bedrock measures deep below the surface; faith must reside in the core of my being.

To those who understand, I share this observation: Seems we’re all on an uphill climb, evaluating our wares, making sure we’ve got things packed in case the earth shifts and we lose our bearings. Somehow, deep down, we know things will not be what they were. Change is certain. Look how much has morphed since 10 years ago. Forget 20. That’s another lifetime altogether. We keep looking at the clock, scrutinizing the calendar — or not — rubbing our eyes, moving a little slower. Feels like a countdown, every step deliberate, every move crucial.

Given the lateness of the hour, I hazard to make this appeal: Be sure you’re not building castles in the sand in the midst of a storm that’s been long in the making. That you’re wide awake; hearing the clarion call to sell all your wares and strengthen yourselves in the Lord. Be a Noah, build an ark of prayer, ring the proverbial warning bell for your generation. Step out of your tiny world, dare enter God’s magnum opus.

Oh, and learn to die well. Find comfort in the arms of the One who hasn’t lost count of the numberless grains of sand underfoot.

As history converges upon the eternal will of God, His is the perfect storm.

♦   ♦   ♦

To be caught up in this epic drama — finally lost; forever found — no longer flailing but holding firm in His purposes, is to be written out of your own David Copperfield and hidden in the eternal plot of Christ in God, the Author of Life.

Now, a problem with metaphor is that at some point it breaks down. But without it, I’d be even needier than I am for trying to understand those things that exist beyond my reach.

Yes, God is too big for me.

magnum opus


I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

— Ephesians 1:18-19a