This is the fundamental question that I believe Donald Miller is after in his new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Don says that a great story contains “a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.” With these things in mind Don sets out to tell a story that I believe has the reader pausing, assessing whether or not he or she is living a great story in the life they are leading.
I have been waiting for the publication of this book ever since I heard about it. In fact, it is this idea of story that I heard Don preach at Mars Hills Church in Michigan sometime in 2007. My wife and I listened to the podcast as we drove across the California and Arizona desert, and we look at that message as a catalyst in encouraging our move to Texas and to step out in faith in new careers. As the book progressed (and it was a page turner for me), I found myself being drawn into what I found to be a more mature, subtle and better writer than in his previous works.
Don really captured a lot of the existential angst that I feel a large and growing generation of young adults are experiencing as they wander the landscape of relationships, careers and faith. And this book was an eloquent reminder that there is more to life than what most of us are living for. There are lots of great passages in the book, but let me leave you with one that has stuck with me ever since I read the words:
“I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover if was harder than they thought. They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting better. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.” (pp. 179)