Different Stories

I realized on my run this morning, in a moment of it’s-probably-obvious-to-everyone-else-but-a-revelation-to-me clarity, just how many different stories there are in the Bible.  I have at the back of my mind this idea that the Christian experience should be more-or-less the same for everyone, but a cursory glance at the Bible with open eyes should really disabuse me of that notion.

Jacob, for example, experienced God as the opponent in a wrestling match.  Moses experienced God as a burning bush, or a pillar of fire.  Job experienced God as a courtroom adversary, (and then both counsel for the defence and judge.)  David experienced God as all-knowing, all-seeing.  Habakkuk experienced God as frustratingly obtuse, Jonah experienced God as frustratingly merciful.

When Jesus turned up on the scene, the Bible continues in this vein.  The Pharisees encountered him as a dangerous challenge. Mary experienced tender compassion.  Peter experienced bold challenge.  Paul experienced dramatic life reversal.  John experienced profound philosophical satisfaction.

Why on earth, then, do I have this story in my head of the Christian experience being one of ‘convert, join a church, meander along in a reasonably satisfactorily middle class life, don’t get into trouble?’

If everyone who encounters God in the Bible had a unique story to tell about the experience, surely the only thing I can expect for sure about my spiritual narrative is that it will, also, be unique?