Over the past few years I have transitioned…
No longer am I browsing the brick and mortar book stores, hungry for something to read. These days I have my list of authors that I am busy converting to digital tomes. With my electronic devices I can carry hundreds, no, thousands, of books with me wherever I go!
This has helped in my recent past as a student. As I travel, digital books pack much better than big text books!
Still, I was thinking about all the millions of books over the years that have shared millions and zillions of stories. Some make it to the popularity list and it seems like everyone wants to read it. Think about the Potter books, and then movies, that made adults and youth alike want to dress the part and then take part in the story of a fictional young wizard type of person!
When I was in 4th grade, Mrs Winters made a habit of reading “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” to us every Friday afternoon before we went home. I can tell you I enjoyed the story, but not enough to invest my pennies in the book… I was into Hardy Boys and Tom Swift at this time and could imagine being any of the characters in these stories!
While perusing some material I found reference to a writer that was busy writing the “Story of his life” that would be made into a movie, Donald Miller by name. The producer of the movie says, “The story of your life is boring!” Thinking it through, the author sums it up: “Life is staggering – and we’re all just used to it!”
Think about it… Life is boring, and staggering at the same time.
When you consider how each person is a creation and extension of DNA from countless generations, and with each step you take in life you are only able to progress because some sacrifice in the past made it possible. We never made it to the moon without those investigators into flight, or those science students that gazed at the stars, or those teachers that challenged minds to think bigger.
If one person in the present was tasked with telling your story, then it is true that there is so much boring activity. But when looked at over time, then that boring becomes the backdrop for mighty big steps and changes in life.
“Newton took a long time to flesh out his theory on gravity. Some “eureka”moments cover decades of time!” ~me
In the midst of the success stories are hundreds of thousands of failure stories. We often pay them no mind, but look to those who have made the strides from nothing, to something. We all know the story of Thomas Edison, repeatedly making attempts at creating something new. Failure was found more often than “eureka”… and it covered much of his adult life.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”~Thomas Edison
Give up… This is the solution of many. They take the easy path that leads them no where specific, with no expected arrival date, and with no guiding light to get them from point “A” to point “B”…
An internal war between tribes, back in the days of the 12 Tribes of Israel, pitted two leaders against each other. On one side was Israel and the rebellious ones. On the other side was Judah, the “praisers” of God. Israel had 800,000 fighters. Judah had only 400,000. Rebellion against praisers. In a short chapter we find the story line, but the thought for today is the telling of the story of the ruler over Judah – Abijah…
“The rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.” (2 Chronicles 13:22 ESV)
His story of success is said to be told in other works. Someone took the time to record and relate his life. This makes me want to go and get the next book in the story line and follow through!
I love a good story. Much of my desire for story comes from the search for adventure and wonderment.- stories that give me insight into a time period or a location, stories that give answers for questions that I have.
I’ve concluded that writers like Louis L’Amour have found a format for story and can tell the same format over and over, only the names and places and circumstances are changed, and people will buy their stories for years and rave over the books.
Yet, to satisfy my own needs of knowledge and exploration of the world around me, I look for stories and authors than can bring the world alive. Give me something that I can live in for the moment of the story and learn about this world we live in. There are several author’s that help me be in the moment.
- James Michener penned saga’s involved with people, places and things that seemingly covers the entire globe. He covers generations of time in 1000 pages. For example, he wrote a book on Hawaii. The first 150 pages were nothing more than the description on how these islands were formed. In another book he writes about an archeological dig in Israel, and for about 1200 pages he writes a story of each level of excavation, giving me insight as to how that time period might have lived. Still, in another book he explains the spawning cycle of the Pacific salmon in such a way that Scientist have concluded he’s nailed it!
- Bruce Feilor, who wrote a number of books about his heritage as Jew and his travels through the Middle East to discover and document his roots. There is even a PBS special on this that I bought on Amazon and I enjoyed watching him make the trek of a lifetime, interviewing locals and discovering the land. After reading nearly 3000 pages of his writings I can appreciate the hardship of the Jewish nation from the perspective of a Jew trying to understand why all “this” has happened to his people.
At the end of our lives, we are going to sit before God and He’s going to open the book that sums up our lives. Perhaps embedded within the pages of His book will be every single moment of our lives. Will there be recorded all the drama and excitement of our lives alongside all the boring and uninteresting moments? Perhaps. But the most important thing will be our summation. Will we hear the words: “Well done thou good and faithful servant…” Or perhaps those dreaded words will say: “Depart from me, I never knew you…”
What will be the summation of your staggering life?
I believe some of us are struggling with the story of our lives and how to make it more meaningful. We are caught up with the drama of day to day stuff and we’re missing the staggering beauty and hope of our existence. We fail to see that our choices are telling stories about us that write our very existence on the pages of someone’s book. At the end of our life, someone will stand over us and read a few of our pages. That will matter so little, we are gone and will not hear the words of others!
What will matter more is what God says…
Let me share a contrast of two different stories in scripture.
The great leader, Moses, is non longer around. The challenge to the new successor, Joshua, is to lead the nation of Israel forward. Listen to what God tells Joshua at the beginning of the book that bears his name (emphasis are mine).
- Joshua 1:1-9 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Thus begins the story of Israel crossing the Jordan River and entering into the land of promise. It is not always a perfect story; there are many failures along the way. But at the end of his life, Joshua can encourage the people one more time and give them clear focus upon the continuing story of their lives.
- Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Everyone was given a choice of how to choose the pathway of their story. With one voice, the people make a choice!
- Joshua 24:16-18 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.
Joshua then instructs them that they must amends their ways, and turn completely to God. He even writes a covenant describing their wish to turn to God, places a stone under an oak by the Sanctuary of the Lord, and reminds them of their commitment.
The youngest son comes to his father at the appropriate time of life and demands his inheritance. The father gives him what is due and the young man flees from his father’s house to live in a far off place. Perhaps years stretch by and the young man finds himself having spent all that he had on “riotous living.” The good years turn into bad years. The perceived good choices of choosing his own way and living his own life show his lack of planning and care and he ends up living in the arena of pigs. (Luke 15:11-32)
His life is really no different than Abraham’s nephew – Lot.
- Lot “Pitched His Tent” as far as Sodom … Genesis 13:12
- Lot “dwelt in” Sodom … Genesis 14:12
- Lot was “sitting in” Sodom … Genesis 19:1
But something was different in this young man’s life – something caused him to come to himself!
I’m not sure how you take accounting of your rotten life and decide that what you had before must be better, but that’s exactly what this young man did. He wished to return to his father’s house and live as a hired servant, and not in the privilege of son-ship. He begins the journey home.
We find his father looking continually for him.
This is perhaps the difference for many of us today. Our story board gets rotten with life, and even still the Father is always looking for us to return to Him. How many of us are standing in place of the Father and looking for our own to return to the fold?
In neither story do we get the ending completely written for us.
In the first story, we have to keep reading and deciphering all the generations of living to see where the people are for the remainder of the Book.
In the second story, we only know that the Father has rejoiced in his lost son’s return and is willing to have a great celebration and restore him to his place as a son.
How do you choose to live your life?
You can write a story that is full of pain and suffering and there’s no hope or solution for your situation. Or you can write a story of a child of the Most High God living in Grace.
You can live like a pig, or you can live like a King!
The pig is happy, dirty, smelly, dependent upon someone to feed, and is doomed to be slaughtered someday with no hope of ever living in the palace.
The Fathers’ house has rooms of plenty, and even during the lean years there is a protection around you that the pig never gets to enjoy.
Jesus teaches a parable about a Sower. (Matt 13, Mark 4, Luke 8) The seed represents the Word of God. Mathew leaves an impression that the receiver of the seed is a single person. (Matt 13:19) Within any one of our lives we can find segments of each of these soils condition.
- Way Side – The trampled pathways of our lives separating us from other areas. Hardened path ways that cannot have any understanding of the Word because we have trampled it down and trodden over it and not sought after making it productive ground.
- Stony Places – The hardened places that have no depth of soil – we hear the Word, we rejoice with it, but we have no depth of soil so no root can survive.
- Thorns – Our lives are full and prickly with the deceitfulness of riches. The Word has no chance because our focus is not upon the Word, but rather it’s upon life.
- Good Ground – It Produces FRUIT…
To live in the pigpen causes us to forfeit living in the “Father’s House.“ God has provided for us in the “here and now.”
Look at what our Father has given us (provisions).
- A place where God can be found … Ex 33:21
- A place where there is no lack … Jud 18:10
- A place where there is no oppression … 2 Sam 7:10
- A place of refuge … Prov 14:26
- A place of future hope & residence … Jn 14:2-3
- A Place of Dwelling
Psalms 27:5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
- For Hard Times … 2 Corinthians 4:8
- For Weary Times … Matthew 11:28
- For Scary Times … Psalms 56:3
- A Place of Trust
Psalms 57:1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.
Trust God to protect us. Trust God to provide for us. Trust God to prepare us for the world.
- A Place of Triumph
Psalms 32:7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
God gives a song of deliverance. God gives a song of praise. God gives a song of confidence.
The “Place” God has provided for us in the here and now is His Word. We find the place when we lean on, trust in, and rest with the truths in the Bible.
What is the story of your life? One final thought about this for you to consider…
Gal 6:7 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap