I love a good story, and I bet you do too. A long time ago I heard Billy Graham in one of his telecasts say that history is really His Story. Ever since Adam and Eve, God has been writing earth’s most passionate, compelling and powerful drama, a narrative from ancient past to triumphant future, a tale of redemption and hope.
Most amazing of all, God is writing you and me into His Story.
What part do you play in this narrative? Which of the Great Author’s plot lines do you bring to life? What magnificent theme does your story-within-a-story highlight? How does your character affect the rest of the story?
There’s no way to know…
Consider this: Has anyone ever understood their place in history? Surely Abraham knew. God promised him he’d be the father of many nations, but all he experienced of the blessing was the miracle of a child born in his old age. About four thousand years later and after Jesus, you and I see those promises fulfilled so much better than Abraham ever did.
How about Rahab? By faith she chose the God of Israel, left her life of prostitution, married and had Boaz. I’m sure she only saw herself as a grandma who tried to help out her daughter-in-law, Ruth, by babysitting her grandson as much as possible. Who could have told her then that she would have a great grandson named King David and, even farther down the line, a great grandson who would save the world?
Of course the central theme of the Great Author’s story is Jesus, but look at this drama in Luke; at most we see five minutes of this man’s life:
A thief hangs on a cross erected next to Jesus. He hears soldiers, Pharisees and the other crucified criminal mock and curse. Suddenly something powerful rises in this man’s heart and we hear him say, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
In his greatest moment of humiliation and shame, the thief only knows death’s agony, clueless that the faith his dying words express will shout a message of hope down through the ages. Because God wrote him into the story, we believe that it’s never too late to repent.
What about modern examples? Oswald Chambers traveled and lectured, never famous during his lifetime. After his death, his wife spent the rest of her life publishing her husband’s spoken words which she had recorded verbatim in shorthand. My Utmost For His Highest was published ten years after her husband died. During his lifetime, Chambers remained unaware that he had authored a classic that God would use in countless lives.
Ever heard of Christian Wolfkes? This godly Romanian cherished a fervent love for Jews and prayed for years that he might win one for Christ even though there were none in his village and he was too ill to travel. Around 1937 a young Jewish man and his wife arrived. The old carpenter prayed many hours for their salvation, gave them a New Testament and eventually won Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand to Christ.
This couple later stood up to the communist government, and after suffering many years in prison for their faith, Richard wrote the well-known book, Tortured for Christ, and founded Voice of the Martyrs.
Christian Wolfkes only saw himself as a carpenter who wanted to win a Jew to Christ. He never learned the impact his investment in the Wurmbrands had around the world.
What about you and me? We’re just as ordinary and unsuspecting as these folks but our faith is as precious and powerful, and it may also reverberate down through the ages in ways we could never imagine.
I’m glad that it’s up to God to decide where and how He places me into His narrative. Knowing Him as the Author of my story-within-the-greater-story quiets me. I can stop the clamor for meaning, the chase after “finding my purpose,” the hand-wringing over how to be spiritually productive with my time.
Instead, I’m free to simply delight in the Lord and, as best as I understand, follow Him. After all, it’s up to Him to choose from the smorgasbord of my life what parts live on, if any.
If today you’re confused, troubled or perplexed by your life, should this be surprising? We’re all part of a greater story which the Author has not yet finished. Before you stress too much about how your life is turning out despite your best efforts to follow Jesus, it might be a good idea to suspend your conclusions until you reach the last page of the book!
When at last all plot lines converge, all mysteries appear solved and the lovers finally wed, I’m convinced we’ll let out a deep sigh of satisfaction and maybe wipe a tear or two from our eyes. Then in awe of the greatest story ever written, I imagine sinking to our knees before the Great Author of Redemption, our heads bowed in grateful praise.
Ruth Wood is the editor at Comfort Cafe, an online women's magazine bringing hope, help and healing to the hurting. (Now called Espresso for the Heart.)
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of EPM's quarterly newsletter Eternal Perspectives.