|South Lansing Christian Church recently adopted 5 Core Values. Over the course of the next five weeks I will write about each of these Core Values at Frankly Speaking.|
I love a good story. A damsel in distress; a down-on-his-luck guy who finally makes it big; the ugly duckling that becomes a beautiful swan. The stories that touch our lives are stories of redemption. Frodo journeys to Mordor and casts a malevolent ring into Mt. Doom and saves Middle Earth. Luke confronts the Emperor and redeems his father, Darth Vader. Vivian meets the charming billionaire, Edward, and trades in her hip boots and tube top for Jimmy Chu and Vera Wang.
But then there is reality. And the reality is this: your story ain’t no fairytale. You’ve lived life long enough to know that you’re not going to pick the Powerball. You aren’t going to bump into your date from the Senior Prom on New Year’s Eve. If your story is like a lot of people’s, it is filled with clogged drains and broken fan belts. It's characters include domineering bosses and disappointed spouses. The chapters contain mountains and valleys, success and failures.
And in between the running toilets and runny noses – if you’re like a lot of people – you probably sometimes wonder how your story is going to turn out. Late at night when you’re lying in bed with just your thoughts, maybe you wish you could skip ahead to the end to see how your story turns out. Because if you knew how this story ended, it would help you write the next chapter. It would not only reassure you that your story is worth writing and worth telling, but it would help make sense of some of the more difficult chapters that you face.
For as long as I can remember, I thought God's story began in Genesis. "In the beginning" are the first three words of the English Bible, after all. It turns out, though, that there is one other place where we read, "In the beginning," and though it was written centuries after the Genesis account it, nevertheless, writes of events that precede the creation of the earth by an untold number of years / centuries / eons.
John wrote, "In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."
Turns out there is no beginning to God's story, just as there will be no end. All of creation, all of time, all of it is God's story. And the most amazing part of His story is that He invites us to enter into it. God wants us in His story.
You see, it is all about Him. And when you and I rightly understand that our best story is the one in which God is the main character, life begins to make more sense. It begins to be lived with a sense of purpose and destiny.
Jesus is the beginning and end. Revealed in His Word, God invites each of us to enter into His story and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, enables us to bear witness to that story and invite others to enter into it.
Practically, that has at least two implications.
First, when my story connects with God’s story or, more precisely, when I find myself in God’s story, something holy happens. Life begins to make sense. Life begins to have a purpose. When I begin to see God as the main character in my story, then life takes on a completely new dimension. Not only that, but, when my story connects with your story and God's story, that is where we find the church. That's where our story happens.
The second implication is a bit more personal. It is simply this: your story is not over. You and I have no say in the beginning of our stories. But we can have an effect in the ending. Maybe your story has a crummy beginning. Broken home. Unwanted pregnancy. Neglect Abuse. Here's the reality: no matter how lousy the beginning of your story was, God wants to write an amazing end.
What is more, it doesn't matter if you've had some miserable chapters along the way. Maybe you've struggled with addiction. Maybe you've left a trail of severed relationships and broken promises. The beauty of entering into God's story is that you can start right now and write a new chapter that leads to a different ending.
That is the beauty of entering into God's story - this epic adventure without beginning or end in which all who make Jesus the central character of their story write for themselves a story that transcends earth and time!