Stories of Redemption

I love telling stories. 

I’m not entirely certain why stories captive my mind.  Maybe it has something to do with the emotions that a story produces or maybe it’s just because I love the pictures my mind paints when I image the story coming to life.

I’m not entirely certain why I love stories, but I think that it’s because a story is where a person lives.  It’s a snapshot of who they are and what they believe and how they feel.  It describes the history that molded their future.  A story gives depth to the pictures we see of people in life.

God writes stories.  He’s actually writing a master story.  It’s called God’s plan for man. 
It started in the Garden of Eden when He created Adam and Eve and it continues on today.  The story of His plan has had several hiccups.

the fall man in the Garden
the tower of Babel
the flood
his convenient with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
the Hebrew children in slavery
the Exodus
the story of entering the Promise Land
his convenient with David
the stories of the kings and prophets
the exile of God’s people
the birth of Jesus
his life and His death
his resurrection
his convenient promise to the Church to empower us and make us His witnesses

All of these stories are within the Master story that God is writing.  He’s writing the story of Redemption.

We all have a story.  Even our very lives are a story.  We all have a beginning and we will all have an end.  And somewhere there in the middle will be the story of our lives…how we lived, how we acted, how we reacted, how we fought and how we retreated.  Forever imprinted on the pages of history will be our life, complete.  

And it will all be there in the story of God’s redemption.

The writer of Hebrews wrote of this life as a race rather than a story.  I’m quite certain that the majority of us are familiar with this passage of Scripture.  Possibly, you may have committed it to memory.  But the writer shares this in chapter 12 of Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before Him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

When studying this verse it’s so easy to only focus on our own race…our own story.  But as we look to Christ as the perfecter of our faith, we have to look past ourselves and into the heart of Christ. 

Jesus said of Himself, “I did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).”  Jesus also said of Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Looking to Christ as the pen on the paper of our lives, I have to say, I’m compelled to do more, to be more, to have more action on pages He pens.

There are a few characteristics of really great stories that make the pages of a book come to life.

First, really great stories always start with thorough research.  Even fiction stories must have an element of truth in them.  The same is true for our lives.  We have to have more than a simple knowledge of the Word of God and we have to pray more than over our meals.  If we want the Master author to write the story of the ages inside of us, we have to know the Master’s heart. 

The narrative we allow Him to write is directly related to our will.  And truthfully our will is evil and wicked.  On our own we are destined to be a tragedy--an exemplary tale of how not to live.  But when we’ve studied God’s Word and when we’ve spent time in His presence our heart and our will begins to be shaped into God’s will for our life.

Powerful narratives also have strong plot lines.  There is a raise and fall to the action, but it is never stagnant. 

Life can be so boring.  Our spiritual lives can be boring.  Taking the easy road.  Living on the edge of adventure.  I’m sure some of us prefer it that way.  Truthfully, there’s nothing “wrong” with staying “out of trouble.”  The less adventure there is the less trouble we can get in.  But if we always take the easy road, if we never challenge the enemy, if we never challenge ourselves, how we grow in the our level of trust in God.

Truthfully, God sends us challenges or God allows challenges to occur in our lives.  These situations might find us completely unprepared.  Think falling in a rushing river while canoeing through the Grand Canyon.  Nobody wants to almost drown.  But think of the story you can tell when you get home.

Glennon Melton says this, “Life is brutal, but it’s also beautiful. So I call life brutiful.  I’ve decided to become a shameless truth teller.”  

I really like that…a shameless truth teller.  I want my shamelessly tell of God's brueltal life that He created in me.

There are many steps in writing a great story.  But of all the steps, the last one is the one that matters most.  Send that tale to the press.

I want to challenge you to use this crazy, this difficult, this overwhelming plot that God is writing in you for good.  Invest in other people the story of your life.  Share what God has brought you through.  Tell them how you had to lean on your church family when you lost your job.  Tell them what the Holy Spirit spoke to your heart when you were suffering from depression and thoughts of suicide.  Tell them how Jesus healed your life when you had cancer.  Tell them how Christ set you free from an addiction to pron or drugs or whatever.  

Tell them.

Tell those that are lost and in the dead of night.  Better yet, turn the page and allow God to write a new chapter--a chapter where you take your flashlight and head out into the cold rain looking for a fatherless child.  They are lost.  They’re dirty.  There isn’t much to their story. 

But the very adventure that you disdain is the excitement and the hope that they need to survive. 

Jesus said this, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well (Mark 16:15-18).”

Friends, if you are in a relationship with the Master author then He is writing a beautiful story of your life.  Your story, whether you like it or not, is a part of God’s plan…a part of His story…

of redemption.

Chances are, you won’t be asked to give your life as a martyr for Christ.  You probably won’t be asked to go to a foreign mission field.  You might not be asked to stand in front of people and share from the pages of your life.  But we have all been penned to be a living adventure of God’s redemption plan.  And a story is no good unless it’s told.

Tell your story and let Christ write stories of redemption through you.

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