Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Your Story

Everybody has an interesting story. It's the details that make your life fascinating. The details of the risks that you have taken, the pains you have inflicted, the hardships you have endured, the adventures you have attempted, the struggles you have embraced, the tensions you live with - this is what makes your story compelling.

When Paul meets Timothy, he invites this mama's boy to leave home and join them on their trek through the wastelands and craggy trails of central Turkey. Timothy tended towards timidity, but his mama let him go, and his story was never the same. When Paul meets Lydia, he invites her to trust Jesus - the risky next step for a pagan woman who had become a believer in the God of Israel. She's a prosperous merchant in the market for royal purple dye. She runs in circles of competitive wealth, she's without a family, and she is lonely. Her story is never the same after she joins the way of Jesus.

When Paul is confronted by a slavegirl who tells fortunes, he sets her free. Her story transitions swiftly from a life of cruelty to one of open possibilities. While she is still steeped in poverty, she is welcomed to walk into a new way of life - it's likely she was welcomed by Lydia. When Paul is approached by the pleading jailer for a way to be saved, the irony is not lost on him. The jailer stays a jailer, but he does so with a changed heart, a new perspective on what humans can become in the midst of adversity.

Paul becomes a catalyst for life-change - his entry into someone's story inevitably results in a new chapter. Whatever the story has been, it becomes obvious that the next set of paragraphs can head in another direction. The beginning of the story is the source of the tension and pain, and the transitioning sentences only serve to heighten the interest in the story: now that Jesus has come into the picture, what is possible?

Where ever you are at in your story, whether you think it's been a boring life, or an unfair one; whether you think your story is too full of shame for Jesus to enter into or if you're feeling pretty good about your story and have no real need for Him - God's still there on the margins. Timothy grew up in the synagogues, Lydia was a pagan long before she became a follower of Israel's God. The slavegirl was abused for too long before she discovered Paul, and the jailer had put in a lot of time before his moment of crisis. Even with all those long chapters where it seemed that God was nonexistent, or even against them, at some point Jesus intervened. Through Paul. Through someone who had their own pain-filled, tension-full story.

If Jesus is part of your story, let him use your story to help others open up to the way of Jesus. If your story has it's own chapters of hardships, but you're still a little skeptical about the whole Jesus-thing, don't discount the stories of those who have found hope and healing through Jesus. The stories are out there of how Jesus changes the direction of a story.

And when you need some changes in the plot of your life, God will be there to show you the way. Through someone you probably already know, someone how you care about, someone you respect, someone who's story can be helpful to you.

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