Everybody has a story – unique, compelling, surprising, sometimes heart wrenching, often inspiring – our stories run the gamete from tragedy to triumph. Our stories are full of mystery, drama, romance, conflict, struggle, learning, loss, growth and gain. There are approximately eight billion stories currently being written. Some stories are further along than others. Although some stories are nearing their conclusion, there is still time for that last minute plot twist, yielding the surprise ending. After all, it’s not where you start but where you end up that matters most. Other stories are just beginning. Not even the first chapter has been finished yet.
I was reminded again this past weekend just how profound and diverse and surprising each of our stories truly are. Ever hear the expression “You can’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, that is most certainly true with people as well as actual books. I listened as many people shared parts of their stories at our conference and every time, I heard a story I never would have expected nor predicted from the particular person sharing her story. The only One who is never surprised is our Creator because He doesn’t judge us by our “covers” to begin with. He never has. He reminded Samuel of this fact in 1 Samuel 16:7 –
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ”
If only I could learn to do that – look beyond a person’s appearance or “cover” and listen to their story which will involve learning to “read between the lines” as well as just taking the time to get to know their story even though it is still being written as is my own story. (if you are reading this, then your story is still being written too, it is not over yet) Each of us is a work (or manuscript) in progress, our stories are still being written. You may not think of your life as a best seller in the making, but comparing ourselves to books is not new. Consider when we say of someone – “he/she’s a walking encyclopedia?” or “his/her life is an open book?”
Do you, dear reader, like me, ever wonder how and when your story will end? The future is full of blank pages, waiting for us to write on them, the words and deeds, the thoughts and feelings that will fill those pages with what will become our unique story. How many pages are left for each of us to fill? Some “books” are much shorter than others. Some “books” end unexpectedly, prematurely it would seem – leaving the reader stunned and the story seemingly unfinished. I don’t even know how long my own “book” will end up being. But there is an Author who does know. I read in Psalm 139:16 this –
“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
God’s story is the larger narrative into which each and every one of our individual stories fit. His Book of Life contains them all. My story derives its meaning and its purpose from being a part of God’s larger, eternal story. It’s a story He’s been writing ever since He put Adam and Eve in the garden and gave them dominion over it. A lot of stories have been written since that time. We read many of them in the Bible, in biographies, autobiographies and in history books. But for every story that we are still reading today, there are countless other stories that are also a part of God’s grand narrative, that we haven’t had the opportunity to read yet. Someday we will meet and be able to read all the books that have ever been written, those we never had a chance to meet here on earth, either due to geography or to the time in history during which their story was written. All of our stories fall somewhere between Genisis and Revelation. (all of us currently writing our stories like to think we are closer to Revelation than to Genesis but only God, the Author of all our stories, knows how far the end is from the beginning)
Nevertheless, the stories being written now are eerily similar to the stories we already know of those who have gone before us. Our stories contain elements common to us all – our struggle for survival, our quest to find meaning, our search for identity, our battles with evil and adversity, our pursuit of truth, our longing for true love and our desire for redemption and eternal life. Solomon was right when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Still each of our stories is unique to us. That’s why I don’t want to make assumptions and “judge a book by its cover” without taking the time to open it up and find out what’s on the inside. I am always surprised and often delighted at what I find when I take the time to look beyond the cover of anyone I meet and learn their story. Even though, like mine, their story is still being written, there is much we can share and learn from each other as we are works in progress.
So what is my story? What do I want it to be? drama? romance? mystery? comedy? an action thriller? sci-fi? a Greek tragedy? a tale of triumphing over adversity? a story that has many plot twists and turns? a story of heartache and loss? a story that ends in victory or in defeat? Truth is, of the almost eight billion stories currently being written, not that many will become famous biographies, not that many will be turned into movies. But that does not mean that my story and your stories, dear readers, are not important. In God’s eternal kingdom, each and every one of our stories are not just important, they are essential because our “books” are the chapters that make the story God has been writing since Genesis complete. It is truly an epic tale that God is telling.
But God is up to the task. The One who knows every hair on every head, saves all our tears and calls each and every star by name, can certainly keep track of not just the eight billion books currently being written, but all those books already written and those that will be written in the future. Nothing is too hard for Him. He is the omnipresent, all knowing, infallible Author. He never sleeps nor slumbers, so nothing gets by Him. God is the Author of it all. In Acts 3:15 I read what Peter preached to a crowd of people saying –
“You killed the Author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Then in Hebrews 12:2 I read,
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and perfecter of our faith,”
God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone tablets which He gave to Moses. He also said in Hebrews 8:10 –
“I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.”
God is the Author of life, of our faith, of both the old and the new covenants, of the Ten Commandments and of His laws which He writes on our hearts. (hearts which are often just as stony as the original tablets) He is the Author of the Bible and He is the Author of each and every individual story. I want Him to write my story too. Only problem is, sometimes I become dissatisfied with the way my story is going. I start believing I can do a better job writing my own story, so I grab the pen from God’s hand, in an attempt to gain control over my own script. I guess I get to thinking that I will write a better story for myself than my Heavenly Father will, even though He’s the One who has all wisdom and knowledge.
Every day I have to decide, who is going to write my story today, myself or my Heavenly Father? Who will have control of the pen? Will I follow His script or attempt to write my own?
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Abraham followed God without question and so did Peter. Peter walked away from his largest catch of fish ever and followed Jesus. It was an unexpected plot twist in that fisherman’s life, but Peter trusted Jesus and followed Him from that day forward, allowing God to author his story from that point on. God changed the script of Peter’s life that day, just as He changed Abraham’s story when He asked Abraham to leave his home and follow where God would lead. And then there’s Saul, turned into Paul. Saul was the author of his own story until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. From that point on, Paul let Jesus write his story and make it a part of the larger story God is writing for all mankind.
That’s what I want. I may be just one of eight billion books currently being written, but I want my Heavenly Father writing my story because I trust Him to write a better story for me than I could write for myself. To this end I will –
“Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways I will acknowledge Him, (including giving Him the pen) and He will direct my paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I want God to write my story so that it will fit perfectly with all the other stories He is authoring. He alone can weave all our “books” into His one grander, larger narrative that He has been writing since time began. He can fit all our stories together, making them each a part of His eternal story. My story has meaning and purpose because it is written by God as a part of His eternal story. My story finds its place of belonging as a part of God’s larger narrative.
I don’t know till I turn the page what God has in store for me next. (that’s walking by faith) But with God, every day is an adventure, making my story a real “page turner.” I will trust God to fill in the blank pages of my future and rest in His promise –
” ‘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)
trusting Him to write a better book of my life,
sincerely, Grace Day