Find God in the Structure of Great Stories

By Dianne E. Butts

Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.netDid you know there is a certain “structure” to a story? Whether you know that intellectually or not, you sense it. We hear countless stories—from speakers, TV, movies and in books. But if a story doesn’t follow “the structure,” we know something is wrong. That’s because a story needs to resonate with our souls.  The greatest story in history is God’s story (“His story”!), but we can also find God in the structure of great stories elsewhere.

As an author and screenwriter, I’ve studied story structure so I can successfully write stories. One universal story structure,”the hero’s journey” (or monomyth) was first described by Joseph John Campbell (an American mythologist, writer and lecturer) in his nonfiction book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

One day more than ten years ago, I was sitting in a workshop at a writer’s conference learning about writing and about stories, and I was absolutely stunned to hear the workshop instructor, Kurt Bruner, use “the hero’s journey” to tell the story of God–that is, the story of the entire Bible–in about five phrases which he called “The Grand Drama of the Gospel.”

I couldn’t believe it! And yet the story Kurt Bruner told rang so true with my soul that I got his permission to re-tell it in my first book Dear America. Here is that story in five phrases, along with a few more sentences of explanation from me. See if you don’t recognize the framework of every story you love in this outline:

 v  Once Upon A Time

In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth.

The Villain’s Plot

Because Satan hates God, Satan enters the Garden of Eden to kill Eve and her husband Adam by deceiving them into eating from the tree God forbade them to eat from.

The Divine Dilemma

What is God to do? Adam and Eve have sinned. God has already announced that the consequence of sin is death.

The Hero’s Quest

So what does God do? God goes on a quest to save mankind. He comes to earth in disguise to 1.) win back the heart of His beloved (people), and 2.) fulfill His own demand for their death by taking their death-penalty upon Himself.

The Final Conflict

Satan discovers God-the-Hero has come in disguise and sets out to kill Him before He can save mankind! As Jesus hangs dying on the cross, Satan thinks he has succeeded. However Jesus’ death in fact rescues mankind when three days later Jesus rises from the dead, never to die again, and provides eternal life to everyone who trusts in Him.

Later, Kurt Bruner wrote a book, The Divine Drama and said, “…all great stories follow the same basic pattern and point us to the part we play in the larger drama of life and eternity.”

Now you, too, can be find God in the structure of great stories!

 ©Dianne E. Butts. Dianne is a freelance writer, author, and screenwriter. Her first book Dear America, which contains “The Grand Drama of the Gospel”, has just been republished for Kindle. Follow more of her writing at

Speaking of creative storytelling, see his video from Igniter Media, see The Bible in 50 Words:

Igniter Media creates videos for use by churches and other groups.  To obtain use of their short films for public use (without the website address embedded) and see more of their films, visit



Finding God in Praise

By ©Dianne Neal Matthews

Sometimes when I’m struggling with negative feelings, I need a reminder that I would be better off finding God in praise rather than focusing solely on my circumstances.

One sure-fire way to change my mood is to turn to the book of Psalms. King David faced many troubles and hardships, yet even when crying out to God about his problems, he often turned his prayer into praise. In Psalm 71, David exclaimed in wonder and amazement as he looked back at how God had worked in his life:

“Your righteousness reaches to the heavens, O God. You have done great things. O God, who is like you?”

Whenever David meditated on God’s unique qualities, he found words inadequate to describe Him. Thankfully he never stopped trying, and as a result we are blessed by many psalms that remind us of God’s goodness, power, and mercy.

The late Dr. S. M. Lockridge, a pastor and popular speaker, is best known for a portion of a rousing sermon often referred to as “That’s My King” quote, in which he spends several minutes describing Jesus Christ:

“He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful…He’s the sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization…His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes…”

Suddenly he stops and exclaims,

“I wish I could describe Him to you!”

Meditating on God’s character traits builds up our faith and deepens our personal relationship with him. It encourages us to acknowledge him in good times and helps us trust him in hard times.

No matter what we’re going through, thinking about God’s attributes reminds us that we always have reason to praise God. And we just might be tempted to burst out in adoration and worship along with King David and Dr. Lockridge. Then we’ll discover that even a bad day can’t keep us from finding God in praise.

© Dianne Neal Matthews. Dianne is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books ( This material is adapted from Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations on Questions from Scripture (Baker Books).

Enjoy this video featuring Dr. Lockridge’s famous sermon, “That’s My King”:


Find God During Illness

By Karen O’Connor:

I opened the latest issue of Embody Health, a wellness letter I subscribe to, and was inspired to read what Dr. Edward Creagan of the Mayo Clinic stated about the cancer patients he’s treated over the years. He most admires those who have been able to focus on what is really important, despite their illness. “Resiliency,” he said, “also known as the bounce-back factor, is the ability to take a big hit psychologically, spiritually, physically or financially and somehow move forward.” It seems these men and women have been able to find God during illness.

My friend Marilee is such a person. She went through treatment for breast cancer last year but has come through it strengthened by her commitment to God, knowing he was at her side the entire time. She also remained connected to people who love her, each person providing strength, encouragement, and plenty of hugs, and she concentrated on taking the necessary steps to get well again.

It is never easy to face a serious illness or to endure tests and treatment that are often painful and unpleasant for days at a time, but to find God during illness is to find peace, courage, and a willingness to take each new day as it comes, being assured that God will be there with you.

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Hebrew 13:5 (the Bible)

Be encouraged by this YouTube video with inspiring verses from the Bible.

©Karen O’Connor. Karen is an author, writing mentor, and frequent contributor to the Finding God Daily. Visit Karen on the web at

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