LIFE IS A STORY

Life doesn’t come to us like a problem with an instant solution.   It comes to us the way that a story does, scene by scene.  You wake up.  What will happen next?

You don’t get to know—you have to enter in, take the journey as it comes.  The sun might be shining.  There might be a tornado outside.  Life unfolds like a drama.  Each day has a beginning and an end.  A year goes by like a chapter from a novel.  Sometimes it seems like a tragedy, sometimes like a comedy.  Or maybe some days it feels like a soap opera.  I think you get my point.

Think of novels you’ve read, movies you’ve seen and you will notice they pretty much follow the same story line.  Things were once good, then something awful happened, and now a great battle must be fought or a journey taken. But at just the right moment, a hero comes and sets things right, and life is found again. Why is this?

Every story, great and small, shares the same essential structure because every story borrows it power from a Larger Story, a Story woven into the fabric of our being. It is a Story that we just can’t seem to escape. We can discover the Story.  Maybe not with perfect clarity, maybe not in the detail that you would like, but in greater clarity than most of us now have. 

Every story includes losses and victories.  Losses become the substance that God uses to shape and form us into who He has always known us to be. When we are buffeted by tough stuff, scary stuff, stuff that wounds us, Father, lover of our souls, brings it around to a victory as we let Him in the difficult part of the story at the moment. 

Victories become building blocks in our story and become testimonies. Those testimonies are treasured for eternity.  They become the very things that share our stories with one another.

We get to know one another as we share bits and pieces of our stories, something beautiful happens.  We begin to bond together in a relationship the goes deeper than surface of acquaintances.   

It is helpful to know that all of life is a story. It would be great to know our own story from beginning to end. . . . or would it?  Life doesn’t work that way.  God didn’t plan to give each one of us the story of our life from beginning to end when we were old enough to read.  But He does have it in His book. 

Psalm 139:15-16 (NKJV)

15  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

Our Story is the language of our heart.  And there is something very precious in our heart planted by God. Perhaps Solomon understood that Life Is A Story.  One that plays out each day of our lives when he penned Ecclesiates.

 Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 (NKJV)

1  To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
2  A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
3  A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;
4  A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
5  A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
6  A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
7  A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
8  A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
9  What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
10  I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.
11  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
12  I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives,
13  and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God.
14  I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.

Verse 11 tells us that that He made us beautiful in its time and eternity has been deposited in our hearts.

Who among us hasn’t questioned what this life is all about?  When things we face are difficult and challenging, we may cry out – stop the merry-go-round I want to get off. 

Yes, the merry-go-round of life can make us dizzy, and sometimes we can’t think or see clearly.  Here is where we run into a problem.  We may have lost our story--The larger story.

Who am I, Where am I in this story of life?

The first thing I do when flying and arrive in the terminal between flights is look first for my next gate on the big screens and then the map of the terminal to find famous red star that shows me You are here.  The map is the Big Picture to show me path I need to follow to get to my next gate. 

Oh, that we had something like this for our lives.  The good news is that we do. When we are in Christ, we know how our story is going to end.  We just don’t know how many pages there are to be written before our story in this life ends. 

 John 14:16-18 (NKJV)

16  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--
17  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
18  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

We have an indwelling and abiding comforter in the Holy Spirit. 

When we know who we are and whose we are, we can live each day no matter what it brings, with assurance that we aren’t in it alone.

Throughout Paul’s teachings, he used the phrase, “In Christ” a total of 160 times and 36 of them in Ephesians Embracing this Truth even though it can’t be explained logically or in this natural world is crucial for us to live the abundant life Jesus provided for us. 

 We sing “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) Now is the time to embrace it and live it.

Highlighting John 4:18 again clearly says we will not be left as orphans.

We are not orphans, we are family.  We have each other.  Why did God set up life to be in families? I think just maybe it is because He knows we sometimes need someone with skin on to affirm us and pray for us.  God designed us for relationship with Him, but without relationships in families and friends what kind of a story would that be? 

Like my life’s story, I am sure your story has been woven with relationships with others.  I’m sure many of us have relocated and had to say good-bye to some very good friends.  Miles may separate us from those in our circle, but the impact and influence on one another remains with us for the rest of life’s journey.  I know all of us here today are here by His design. This time of retreat gives us time to build deeper relationship with each other. So as each day adds to our story, we can trust God that it has a purpose in our journey. 

There are many reminders in the Word that assure us of His love.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

As we walk this journey “In Christ”, we begin to grow in faith to with a firm resolve that our life has meaning and purpose beyond what we may know right now.  Even though we don’t have the book of our story God has written, we can know how to live the story each day, page by page, chapter by chapter.   He has given us the manual for living.  He has provided us with the best teacher in all eternity in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  We may co-author our story by choices we make throughout our lives.  Each choice we make is followed by consequences – good or sometimes not so good.

We all know the story of the wanderings in the wilderness as God’s people who witnessed miracles, signs, and wonder. Their story to get to the promised land took 40 years when they could have completed it 11 days. If only they had co-operated with God’s plan they would have enjoyed life in the promised land sooner

Here is what I learn from their wanderings.     

In Psalm 90:12-17  

12  So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13  Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants.
14  Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
15  Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, The years in which we have seen evil.
16  Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children.
17  And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

The psalmist asked the Lord to teach us to take advantage of our short lives on earth in order to gain a heart directed by wisdom.   

Yes, we can discover the Story. Maybe not with perfect clarity, maybe not in the detail that you would like, but in greater clarity than most of us now have.

Journaling is a great way to capture your story.  I have been encouraged so many times by going back to journals where Abba spoke to me when I was going through a difficult time giving me hope. And to read again about the cry of my heart for more of Him and the times of intercession for my family and friends. That is when I can clearly see my story

Sometimes we share out story with just one another because they go deep in our heart and we have found that we can trust our friend to guard it in their heart.  In the church what we call a testimony is part of our story.  We give testimony about an event that happened in our lives where God came through.  Sharing our testimonies gives encourages others.  We grow in relationships by sharing our story

The hymn Blessed Assurance is a much-loved favorite. The lyrics were written in 1873 by blind hymn writer Fanny J. Crosby and the music written by Phoebe P. Knapp. While these two friends were visiting, Phoebe played a melody she had just composed and ask Fanny what she thought the tune says.  Crosby replied, “Blessed Assurance; Jesus is mine”

You know the rest of the verse. . . O what a foretaste of glory divine.  Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. The refrain: This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; This is my story, this is my song praising my Savior all the day long.  Fanny’s words reflect her walk of faith through her life, and reminds us that are In Christ, we all share this same story to be told.

Find opportunities to share your story and don’t forget your story is His story.

~~~~From my Heart   to yours~~~~~Andrea