I’m supposed to tell my story soon, to a group of people, most of whom don’t know me. Now while I love to hear and am often astonished by other people’s stories, I never consider that I have much of a story to tell. My story is like everyone else’s story who has ever lived and my story is totally unique to me. Both are true at the same time.
My life doesn’t seem all that exciting or dramatic to me, in fact I don’t find it all that interesting (but maybe that’s because I’m living it so there’s no mystery to me). Other people’s stories, on the other hand, always fascinate me and more often than not, also surprise me. I definitely should never judge a book by its cover or make assumptions about people without hearing their stories. And the longer we live, the more there is to our stories.
I want a story like Rahab or Ruth or even Wilma Rudolf or Harriet Tubman or Katherine Johnson – women who overcame adversity through courage and perseverance and accomplished something significant in spite of many obstacles. Maybe without significant hardship to overcome, our character is not developed and strengthened to the point of achieving greatness. Kind of like increasing the amount of weight in physical workouts produces better results than not using any weights. Weights provide the resistance or the burden which makes us stronger. Yes, bearing burdens, walking through adversity, forms my character in essential ways, making it much stronger than it would otherwise be. Guess that’s why James says,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
But I digress. Rahab and Ruth each have a story to be sure. But their individual stories derive their significance from and are best understood in the context of the one central, ongoing, larger story in which we all play a part, albeit small. Along with Rahab and Ruth, I am, you are, we all are a part of this much larger, longer, ongoing story. We are each a part of God’s eternal story – history – His (God’s) story. Our stories should not be told in isolation because they do not take place in isolation. My story, your story, each and every story is part of the bigger story which belongs to God. Actually, God is the author of the story. He is writing my story and your story into His eternal story. He is writing and orchestrating His whole story from beginning to end. God alone is sovereign over the script and over the outcome of the story – precisely because it is His story, not mine. I am just a bit player, with a part to play if I will trust God to write my story, just as Rahab and Ruth did.
“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
So, when I am asked to tell my story, it is really God’s story that I am telling – because that is the only way my story has any meaning, significance, purpose or place – when it is told in the context of the longer, larger story which God has been writing since time began. My story is unique to me, as is yours to you, dear reader. Only an infinite God could write a distinct and different story for each and every person He creates. And yet, as different as our stories are, there is a common thread that runs through each of them, uniting us all as participants in God’s story.
Every story, including mine, involves a dramatic rescue as part of the plot, plus a total transformation of character, which takes place over time. Each of our stories contains pain and adversity, trials and triumphs. Every story is one of forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation, including healing and hope restored. These are the inescapable elements God writes into every story of those who call His Son Savior and Lord. These are the themes of humanity, played out again and again in each generation.
We are each searching for meaning, identity, purpose, acceptance, connection – we are searching for eternity in a temporal world. Our stories play out differently, but their themes remain constant. When Jesus invited me to “take up my cross and follow Him,” I accepted that invitation and that has made all the difference in my story. Life is still tough, hard, painful, challenging, disappointing, downright devastating at times. Jesus said it would be. He said,
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
When I accepted Jesus’s invitation, I had to decide, am I going to write my own story or am I going to let God write my story? or rather write me into His story? I am choosing the latter day by day. Every day it is a conscious, new decision to let the pen that writes my story remain in God’s capable hands and not to attempt to wrest it from Him and write the script the way I think it should go. With God doing the writing, I am forced to walk by faith, trusting Him, because I don’t know what I will read when I turn the page. But –
“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
With God writing my story I know that it will end well. When He is the author, every day is an adventure, every day a gift full of possibility and promise, to be lived with purpose, on purpose for His glory and for His story – where every moment matters, every choice counts for eternity. It is not safe, it is not predictable, this journey of trust and following, this race I run, as my story is being written, but it is worth the prize that awaits.
” so I throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and I run with perseverance the race marked out for me with my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
I have been long on the Potter’s wheel, and I expect to be there longer still. It is a painful place to be, but necessary for this process of transformation to take place. I am a work in progress and will be as long as I walk this earth. The Potter will never abandon me nor give up on me until His work in me is complete. If you are reading this, then you are a work in progress too, because you are still here and your story is still being written as is mine. Perhaps our stories will intersect at some point in time and be woven together as parts of God’s eternal story.
So, whose story is it? It is God’s story – one great story from beginning to end. I am but a bit player, lucky enough to have been offered a part. And it is a brief appearance in the story at that. Consider what James says,
“Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
My part or my story may not be big like Moses or Abraham, but better a small role in God’s eternal story, than the lead in the world’s or in my own story.
“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Because, “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84:10)
whose story is it? It is His story and I will stick to the script He provides –
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
sincerely, Grace Day