by Allen Arnold, @TheStoryofWith
See if this imaginary conversation sounds familiar.
God: Do you want to ride with me? I’ll take you somewhere new.
Us: It depends. Where are we going?
God: You’ll see.
Us: Can you at least guarantee that I’ll be more successful going with you than staying here and doing it my way?
God: The only guarantee is we’ll experience it together. Do you want to ride?
Us: Silence. Feet shuffle. Eyes down.
Does it sound a little too close for comfort? We often want to know an outcome before we commit, but God rarely gives upfront guarantees. He seems to prefer inviting us into journeys that require us to leave our “now” for an unknown “not-yet”.
Years ago, my wife and I faced one of the biggest decisions of our lives. A cross-country opportunity was before us. Accepting it would take us from a career, church, and community we loved. And lead us into a situation where, other than the job, much was unknown. We sensed God was in it, but before committing, we drew a line in the sand. “God, give us a clear ‘yes’ if you want us to go. Or provide a solid ‘no’ and we’ll forget about it.”
Instead, God offered something far greater. Rather than an answer, he asked a simple question. I heard his voice clearly in my heart as I was praying. “Allen, do you want to ride?” His gentle tone conveyed the promise of intimacy and initiation. Had he opened the heavens and shouted “Yes, do it!” or “No, don’t go!” it would have been more clear…and less satisfying.
Instead of a quick solution, he offered himself. The offer was never to ride alone, but with him. We did. And it’s been good…and hard.
But easy and best are rarely on the same path.
God longs for those who will come alongside him and experience the active, unpredictable, intimate joy of riding together. Doing so requires us to stay close. Sometimes he’ll ride by our side. Other times, he leads the charge. He keeps us focused on what’s ahead because he knows we’ll never reach our destiny when focused on what’s behind us. Occasionally he even falls back a bit just to see if we notice. It’s how a good Father trains his Sons and Daughters to ride.
This is God’s offer to you now – both in the story you’re writing and the Story you’re living. Do you want to ride on your journey alone or with God?
One path looks easy. Take it and you’ll feel like you’re in control. You’ll let God know if you need him, but for now you’ll navigate it in your own strength. Just follow the map and it will take you to a known but common destination.
The other path has no such guarantee. It looks untamed yet holds the hint of something fantastical. This option stirs something in your heart…perhaps a long forgotten dream. Yet it’s clear that there’s no traveling this uncharted path alone.
Which will you choose – the highly probable or the seemingly impossible? Ask God and see which he’s inviting you into. Though never predictable, he often ushers us into dreams so big that we can only achieve them with him.In fact, if you can achieve your dreams without God, they are way too small.
If you’re standing between two choices now, perhaps you’re not sure which way to go. A good place to start is to ask which path will draw you closer to God. Doing so is essential.Because our art won’t transcend us until we allow God to transform us. The art always follows the heart of the artist.
Your stories will become more expansive – and less predictable – as you choose to ride with him into the hopeful unknown.
“Unique and powerful, The Story of With will take readers deep into the discovery of their own identity. “Bravo! This fascinating blend of storytelling and teaching will shift the thinking of all who take this journey.” New York Times Bestselling Author, TED DEKKER
“Through allegory and invitation, Allen Arnold ushers us into a journey of imagination, insight, wonder, and wisdom…Read The Story of With!” New York Times Bestselling Co-Author of Captivating, STASI ELDREDGE
“This is your invitation into deeper identity, intimacy, and imagination with God. Like finding the place you’ve always longed to be. The moment you finish this book, you’ll race to grab one for a friend. Highest Recommendation!” Bestselling Author of The Long Journey to Jake Palmer, JAMES L. RUBART
“Allen has written a roadmap for dreaming with God. The Story of With is a beautiful, revelatory parable, filled with wonder, mystery, and adventure.” Author of Prone to Love & Untamed, JASON CLARK
– From the Foreword –
“You are not alone. Whether you’re a free spirit, an office exec, a writer, musician, college student, or tired parent—your soul, like mine, knows life is meant to go beyond rat races and rare applause. This book speaks to that belief. And if you’re not careful, you may find tears warming your eyes as you read because finally someone is naming your weariness, your striving, your questions of why you just can’t quite make it, or the emptiness that hit because maybe you did. It is into those places The Story of With reaches—fusing allegory with application—to offer fresh perspective, restored hope, and a rebirth of creativity.”
—From the Foreword by Mary Weber, Christy & Carol Award-Winning, Scholastic Pick Author of the Storm Siren Trilogy.