The Story We Live

We are all living a story. Our lives have characters, some major and some minor, we have triumphs and tragedies, all of it making up our story. This month I am going through the different aspects of our lives through the lens of a story. This was an idea that I first heard about in a book by Donald Miller, the author that I slightly fanboy out on sometimes. His book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, first talks about how we all have a story that we live. This is such a fantastic concept that I have really loved being able to look at the world by. Last week we looked at how our past is a picture of where God has brought us from and how he has used even the hardest aspects of life for our good, growing us and forming us into the people we are called to be. We all have a past, but what about the now? It’s easy to see God work by the way he has used our past experiences, but what about right now, how can we live a story that means something. This is one of the most vital parts to how we live a story. We don’t know the future (unless you have super powers), so we need to choose what will help us live our story. Paul in the bible writes numerous letters over and over to Timothy, creating much of the New Testament and outlining how we should live. In Titus, Paul writes to Timothy about how one should live and carry themselves daily. Titus 2:7-8 says, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

This verse shows that we have a responsibility. Once we start our relationship with Christ, our whole life must change, our story begins to have true purpose. Think of it like an origin story of a hero. You’ve chosen to rise above, made the decision to fight for what you believe in. You have made the choice to follow God, even though you have had to experience trouble, you run towards what God has for you. Now you have to build up your strengths. You have to train your mind to think differently. You have to trust God in the struggle, and you have to love others. This past weekend I saw the new Batman V. Superhero movie, now I enjoyed a lot of it and it had its flaws, but there was one moment that stood out to me the most. In the beginning of the movie (don’t worry, not a huge spoiler), we see Bruce Wayne in a city that is in chaos. Buildings falling, explosions, the works; but in one moment he is running to help those who are in danger. We see him running into the chaos while everyone else is running away, he is running to save those who need it. I think this is a wonderful picture of how to live a good story. We are surrounded by people running away from what we know is right, choosing to think only about ourselves and not leaving an impact. God calls us to live such a better story. God wants us to run towards him, even when everyone else chooses not to follow. Today I want to share a few simple ways to live a story that God calls us to live. We were meant to run towards him, trusting him with everything.

Walk with God daily.  

In any relationship we have, when we don’t have consistent communication, the relationship withers away. The same is true with our walk with God. This doesn’t have to be grandiose or some big deal, it’s simply choosing to talk to God. That’s the beauty of God, in all the complexity of the world around us and all of his creation, a relationship with him is simple. We as people like to make things harder than they should, believe me, I stress myself out over the dumbest things sometimes. When it comes to God, I’ve learned that you have to find what works for you, what the best way for you to connect with him is. My parents always showed me how to talk to God, simply by watching them over the years I learned that it was simple. Reading the word and talking to God, that’s really what it boils down to. If you simply start a habit of fifteen minutes in prayer and reading to start your day, your life will begin to radically change. That’s the jumping off point, then you can dig deeper. Finding books that help your spiritual journey is a way that I can learn to dig deeper (Check out the Books I’m Reading section of the blog to see some of my recommendations). I connect through journaling my thoughts and just having small conversations throughout my day. My friend Jeremy Spry does little biblical commentary videos on his Facebook which helps him dig into the word deeper and show others. My sister Beth paints and prays with God during that time and creates amazing pieces. So many different ways we can have that connection, we just need to find ours and do it consistently in order to be empowered daily to live a better story.

Set an example for others.

We live in a world with so many voices. We see millions of commercials throughout our day, the news has two sides of arguments yelling at each other that their way is right, and the people we talk to can be so negative. We need to set the example, we can set the tone for how the world feels. In America, we are in a season of elections and debates, my Facebook is filled with quotes of candidates claiming they are the savior and the opponents are the devil. I go to school where people have no problem speaking their mind, even if it tears someone else down. The internet itself is filled with unfiltered communication for those who are so angry. We make compromises with what we put into our minds, watching degrading media, and not once thinking about our impact. God calls us to be much more. That verse in Titus at the very end tells us to live like Christ, leaving no ability for others to call us out. We need to set the tone of society. We need to make a choice. Our words shut be used to build others up and encourage the people in our lives. Our Facebooks should lift the name of God, not your anger with some candidate or some rule you can’t stand. Fill your mind with what is good, and when “that” show or “that” commercial comes on, decide to walk away. Be an example for others of a life in freedom, don’t be held back by the lies of the enemy. Live a story without the clutter of what the enemy wants to fill you with. When others run one way, choose to run the opposite, no matter how hard it may be. Live a story that is an example for others.

Find a Sensei.

Every story has a hero who has a teacher, someone in their life that shows them the way because they have the wisdom. Peter Parker had Uncle Ben, Katniss had Hamish, and Luke had Obi-wan and Yoda. This is so important. Surround yourself with people who have gone before you and can teach you how to live the best story you can. This could be one person, or a couple of people in your life. These are the ones who will call you up for coffee and keep you accountable. These are the people who are further along the road than you are, they help us navigate the road we will all walk. In my life, I have had several people who have been a mentor to me. My dad, my old middle school Pastor Marshal, and my high school small group leader Mike D. One person in my life who has helped me tremendously is Seth Tanner. I intern at Daystar Church with him in our high school and ministry. He has been my pastor and now I call him a friend. He has been in youth ministry for a while and that helps me know how to move forward in ministry, as well as keep me accountable in my life. I’m very thankful for his influence, and all of the mentors in my life who influence me. This is so vital for each of us. We are all warriors, we need a sensei to help guide us. We can live a story that God wants by having others prepare and keep us accountable in life.

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We are all living a story. Each day is a chance to step into what God has for us. We can look at our past and see where God has brought us from. In all the pain and blessings, God has used it all. Now we must be intentional with our present. We need to choose to walk with God daily, to be an example for others, and have a teacher to guide us in our walk. When we do this, no matter what comes our way, we can stand firm in the promise of God. He has victory in all things, so we must strive to live a story that glorifies him. Sure we will fail, we are imperfect people striving for perfection, but we must always keep running. Just like the imagery of Bruce Wayne running to save those who are in danger, we must keep running and save the lost. We must run towards the purpose God has laid out for us. We must live a story that is an example of Christ.

Always keep running towards what God has.

-Joshua Thomas

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