I’ve thought about the things I never heard from my parents, or grandparents.
That is about as far back as I can truly go. I remember some great-grandparents but they passed when I was young. I’ve heard some of their stories from their progeny, but I cannot truly say I know much, or enough. I have listened to my parents and that genealogy directly above me, and though I know I would never remember everything they have shared, at least some things will be documented for the next generation!
In olden times we would sit around the fire, late in the evening after a days chores were done. The story of our lives, memories and and future hopes would be shared, over and over. We learned by the repetition of these times. But we just don’t do this any longer.
We’ve moved into that time of genealogy search sights, social media, and nonsensical postings that waste our brain power, time and future. In our genealogy search we rejoice as we find some branch of our past and rejoice because we now know where we came from! Some branches are more easily found, but the further back you go some of those connections are tenuous. Fragile. A literal Pandora’s box…
Throughout scripture we find little nuggets like this.
Now the rest of the acts of Abijah,
his ways, and his sayings
are written in the annals of the prophet Iddo.
(2 Chronicles 13:22 NKJV)
I love a good story. Much of my desire for story comes from searching for adventure and wonderment. I look for stories that give me insight into a time period or a location, or answers for questions that I have.
I’ve concluded that writers like Louis L’Amour found a format for story and can tell the same format over and over, only the names and places and circumstances are changed. People will buy their stories for years and rave over the books. In fact, one reference suggests that he had 5 templates of stories and the names and details changed – yet, he was prolific and entertaining.
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 three particular 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 1,000 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 archaeological dig in Israel, and for about 1,200 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 Feiler, 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.
- Several years ago, author Donald Miller was recommended to me in one of my classes. I’m reading “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” This book is about the author writing and editing the story of his life that will be made into a movie. Trying to understand his life, and how plain it is, the producer of the movie makes a comment: “The story of your life is too boring.” The author considers this statement over pages of the book, but has a somewhat different insight into the statement. Summation: Life is staggering – and we’re all just used to it.
Our staggering life… What a statement! What a thought!
Last night I finished teaching a 12 week Bible Study, and the ending charts tell us that we will some day stand before God and the books will be opened, along with the Book Of Life, and we will be judged by our lives, and the things we did and failed to do with the opportunity given to us. Perhaps embedded within the pages of His book will be every single moment of our lives. Will there be a record of 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 pages of our existence. That will matter so little. What will matter more is what God says…
Now… I’ve pinched this blog from something I wrote nearly 6 years ago. You don’t have to read it all now, but there is something to be found within these few words that I hope will help you think about your life in the prose of a story. Make it worthwhile to tell the next generation…
Let me share a contrast of two different stories in scripture.
The great leader, Moses, is around no longer. 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).
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9 NKJV)
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 stands before the people one more time to give them clear focus upon the continuing story of their lives.
And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 NKJV)
Everyone was given a choice of how to choose the pathway of their story. With one voice, the people chose their pathway to follow God. Joshua then instructs them that they must amend 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. He is known world wide as The Prodigal.
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
Lot never reached a point of “coming to himself” like The Prodigal. He never reached the end of his rope, but he did recognize that the world around him was not a Godly place.
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.
Here’s a blessing – we find his father looking continually for him. (Father’s, never stop looking for that prodigal child to return home!)
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 where there’s no hope or solutions 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 … Exodus 33:21
- A place where there is no lack … Judges 18:10
- A place where there is no oppression … 2 Samuel 7:10
- A place of refuge … Proverbs 14:26
- A place of future hope & residence … John 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 … Psalm 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, a song of praise, 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?
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked;
for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
(Galatians 6:7 NKJV)