We are surrounded in stories. It’s the driving factor in all media in our life, but it is also the way we learn and discover more about ourselves. We all have stories, and we are all in the process of making a story. I plan for over the next month or so to dive into what it means to have a story and how to make your story the best it can be. Why? Because I believe we all have a message to share, I believe that everyone can influence someone for a bigger purpose. It’s so easy to become cynical, or lose faith that we are making a difference in the world. This is so false! The enemy would love nothing more than to have us believe that we don’t matter. It’s the trap that ensnares so many, and if we aren’t careful, it can destroy us. That’s the reason why before we can start learning about trying to make a better story, we must look at where we’ve come from. I am a big proponent of believing that your past does not define your future, and I still believe that, but our past is a love story from God. You see God is the greatest storyteller of all, he made us with the minds capable of creating story, and he is the ultimate authority of story. Our past can be filled with pain, but in that pain, we see how God has raised us out of hell and into freedom. We are able to see that when we choose to follow Christ in a relationship with him, we have victory over all things, even in the hardest of times.
Each week I am able to volunteer and lead an elementary small group of fourth and fifth graders. Each month we have a life app that we look at, think of it like a different virtue each month. This month the life app is hope. Just stop for a minute. That is such a powerful concept, one that even an elementary kid needs to believe in. The verse that goes along with it is one of my favorites, because it paints that love story that God gives us. The verse is in John 16:33 which says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! For I have overcome the world.” What a beautiful promise. A promise that no matter what struggle you are fighting or what hell you may be having to walk through, God has already won that battle. When we look at it like this, we have hope. We have hope because we have victory. We have victory because Christ died and paid the price for each and every one of us. Just thinking about the absolute beauty of this promise brings me to tears. (I look super cool in this coffee shop) I am so thankful for this promise, for the fact that no matter what I’ve done or what I have had to battle, God has already won. That is why we can look at the story so far and be encouraged to grow into all that God made us to be.
We have made mistakes.
We have all made mistakes. I know I sure have. I used to think McDonald’s burgers were the best things ever, until I had a burger from Emma Key’s (local Greensboro, NC specific joke right there, basically a really good burger). That’s a very light hearted mistake, but we have all made mistakes we wish we could take back. We’ve said things to people we wish we could un-say, looked at things that we pray to God we never have to look at again, and thought about things that hurt our souls. Not a single one of us is perfect. I don’t know the specifics of your past, but I know what I’ve done. None of us are perfect, because we all fall short of the standard that God had for us. Our mistakes don’t define us, only God can define us. God has looked at us, impure and imperfect people, and chose to die for us. All the mistakes you have made are washed away by that sacrifice. That’s the reason we celebrate Easter this coming weekend. God sent his son to die for us, so that we don’t have to live and dwell in what we’ve done. We can learn from our mistakes and move forward in our journey.
We can see the blessings in the pain.
This is a difficult concept for me. Our past is filled with tragedy, experiences that make it hard to see the good from it. We find ourselves in times where it feels like nothing good can come from this situation. This past year has been filled with many of these stories. I have seen death and the heartache that comes with it, I have seen my family come under spiritual attack from all sides, and I have seen the pain that comes from hidden sin. Yet in all of it, God has worked. It sounds crazy to say that. How can God use pain? In death I have seen people surround the families of those affected and show love to them. I have watched people surround my family with prayer against the enemy. I have seen what true healing looks like. In all of the pain, I have seen God. It still sounds crazy even when I say it, but I am able to stand firm in God and know that in all the pain, God has already won the battle.
We can move forward in confidence.
Knowing where we came from, all the trials and the pain, give us the momentum to move forward. Even though life is hard, and we will always fight, we can have confidence because God has already delivered us from so much. In every story we read or watch, the hero has a past. They have experienced hardship and make mistakes, heroes aren’t perfect, but they take up the mission when no one else will. The hero looks at the fallen world around them and decides to take a stand. Even when no one else stands with them, they know that the fight needs to be had. We have that same ability. We don’t have to let our past define our future, we can move forward and fight for what we believe in. We can fight for those who are in trouble. We can fight a world that only believes in idolizing pleasure. We can fight for a change. We can fight and have hope in all things because God has already won the war.
In comics and TV, when a continuing story is written, often there is a moment where we get caught up on “the story so far.” This is a term that describes how the story is not yet finished, there is still much to come. Sometimes it feels like we are alone, or that God has left us. Even Jesus asked the question of why God had forsaken him as he was on the cross. The truth is, God has never left us. Even when it gets hard or feels like we are alone, God is with us and he has won the battle. Our story is one of hope because it is not yet finished. We can look at the story so far and move forward. God has delivered us which gives us hope. Your story is not done, so take heart, because God has overcome the world.
Your story matters.