Summary: Your life is a story involving plot, setting, and character--write well!

BCA Graduation—May 27, 2009

"The Story of Your Life"

Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

Text--Read by a student


If you've had me for class or been in chapel, you know that I love stories. I love to hear them. I love to tell them. I think stories are powerful. I think there are lessons taught by stories that we would seldom learn any other way.

Stories can grab our attention and pull us into their world. They can stir up emotions and even move us to action. It’s hard to beat a good story. That’s one reason I love to read—even more than I like to watch movies.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like movies, but they’re so limited. It’s hard to adequately transfer a few hundred pages into a 2-hour movie. There’s too much cutting that must take place.

For instance, maybe you’ve seen some of the Bourne movies starring Matt Damon—“The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” or “The Bourne Ultimatum.” (Ask how many have and whether or not they liked them.) I saw the first movie, “The Bourne Identity,” about month after I finished the book; big mistake. There were so many crucial parts missing that I could not follow the plot of the movie. I was so disappointed and complained to my wife for a week (as if she could fix it for me).

Anyway, let’s get back on track. Story is powerful…and important. I want to spend a little time tonight talking about The Story of Your Life.


Simply defined, a story is the telling of a happening or connected series of happenings. Tonight, we stand at the culmination of one of the happenings in your life—high school.

Stories have three main parts: the character(s), the plot, and the setting. I'd like to talk about each for a few minutes this evening. First, I'll address the plot, then the setting, and finally, I'll touch on the character(s).

The plot is the story itself. Closely related to the plot is the idea of conflict--which every story will have.

• It may be a difficulty faced by the characters.

• It may be a problem that needs to be solved.

• It may be an adventure.

Whatever form it takes, conflict will be present.

Therefore, each of you can expect conflict in life. In fact, I'm sure that before this evening started, you have already experienced it: you've faced difficulty; solved a problem or two; and experienced adventure.

Tonight, I want you to know that conflict will never end. I don't mean that in the negative way it first sounds. Let’s look at it two ways:

• FIRST—There will be difficulties and problems in life; expect them; embrace them.

o It's amazing how today's obstacles often prepare you for tomorrow's opportunities.

o Life will not always go your way. Get used to it. Learn from it. Grow from it.

• SECOND—Life is an adventure.

o Let's look at that word for a moment. Adventure is defined as...

 an exciting or very unusual experience

 a bold, usually risky, undertaking with an uncertain outcome

o There are some wonderfully descriptive words in those definitions:

 exciting

 unusual

 risky

 uncertain

o Life is all of those things…and more.

 Life will be filled with moments of excitement—enjoy them.

 Life will involve the unusual—go with it. Perhaps we can call that a “plot twist.” (i.e. me being a pastor instead of owning a funeral home)

 Life will ask you to take risks—evaluate them…and then jump in when it’s right.

 Life will be uncertain—expect the unexpected.

Now, let's consider setting for a few minutes. Setting is where a story takes place. Since our lives are more like novels than short stories, they will most likely play out in more than one place.

• (For instance, my story has unfolded in five states: Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. If I were to count the towns instead of states, the number would be 10.)

• Each of those settings has contributed to my story and helped make me the person I am today.

Tonight, you’re in Hagerstown. Where did you live when you came home from the hospital? Where will you be this fall? Next year? 2014? 2019?

Setting is very important because some parts of the plot can only unfold in certain settings.

• For example: My wife’s cousin wanted to be a marine biologist.

• She grew up in Frostburg; about 2 miles from Frostburg State University.

• FSU does not offer a degree in marine biology.

• She moved to Texas to attend Texas A&M.

• Today, she serves as the resident biologist on boats fishing out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska—boats just like the ones you see on Deadliest Catch.

The point is that her “story” could only unfold that way if the setting were changed.

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