Jane Austen. Roald Dahl. Maya Angelou. There are numerous things that distinguish these three people. They were from different time periods, were of different races and probably had different experiences of life. Yet, what they will all be remembered for is the fact that they were exceptional storytellers. And though they have all passed away, their stories live on in the hearts of the many people who read their work. But do you realise that it’s not only their stories that live on, but their years of insight and wisdom, and their personalities too.
Now, think of your life as a story and God as the author. Have you considered how God is made known through it? Just as any author is made known through their stories, the God of the universe has chosen to make Himself known through you!
Knowing the connection between your individual story and its ability to reflect God’s identity, it’s hard to imagine that He wouldn’t care about its every detail, after all, He’s the author. It’s something that one may hear frequently as a believer, but too often it’s a truth we neglect. At the time of writing, I myself had gone through a prolonged phase where I had neglected my story, thinking to myself that God’s sole interest in me was for the help of others, and it highlighted a broken aspect of my theology that I hadn’t noticed.
I had come to think that God only cared about me in so far as He needed me for His mysterious purposes. You might say there’s nothing wrong with this at first glance, but on closer inspection you’ll begin to find that this paints a picture of God as more of a boss than a father. However, the bible gives us many examples demonstrating that qualities of a good father are not inherent for being a worldly boss. For example, being a loving teacher (Ephesians 6:4), a positive example (1 Corinthians 11:1), doning wisdom and providing protection (1 Corinthians 15:33) to name a few.
Unlike a father, a boss’ sole concern is achieving a certain target rather than the tool (person) being used to reach it. From this perspective, God becomes a results driven being with you as the “underpaid” worker, who might get a bit of time off before being used to recruit other people. This would also mean that the lives of the people affected were also of minimal concern to God, as they too are just part of a plan of mass recruitment. Everything would be inherently impersonal.
However, I now realise that though God does desire to use me for His purposes, He wants me to do it from a place of sonship. Service without sonship breeds a slave like mentality. God does indeed want workers as “the harvest is plentiful”, but, He is very much concerned about the joy that is birthed in you once you faithfully participate in His plans, His will – in Him.
But, reality check … you aren’t the main character in God’s story.
A lot of the time, we’ve been sold teaching that confuses God’s love for us as making us the ultimate centre of God’s universe. We’re told that God is for us and that He works the world to revolve around us. So when things don’t go our way we are left confused. “Isn’t God for me, so why isn’t this working out the way I want it to?” The truth is you are not the main character of the story. Jesus is. These are just some scriptures which should help you to see this:
- “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8: 29)
- “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28)
- “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36)
In reality this truth should free us, since the majority of the angst that we experience is because of how WE feel things should be in relation to our wants and needs. And this at its core is a very self-centred viewpoint. But now, Knowing that God does everything for His glory with His fatherly love for us in mind, it places our issues and circumstances in context. Your story – the good, the bad and the ugly – is for His glory.
What is God’s glory? It’s incomprehensible to the human mind, since as small finite beings made from dust, we can never fully grasp the attributes that make God, God. So my simple definition is that the glory of God is the “Godness of God”. Therefore, your story is testifying to a specific characteristic or attribute of God. Your story does matter.
What I hope this article does is cause you to appreciate your story more and be intentional in seeing God as the author of your faith. The situations, circumstances and suffering you may find yourself in now or in the future may not be pleasant, but by remembering that God is the author of your faith, you can begin to see that God is working things for His glory and your joy. Some parts of the story are almost a collaborative effort, where as we draw closer to His heart we begin to act in accordance with His will. Other parts of our story is simply about placing our faith in His sovereignty when we can’t understand what’s happening. Knowing that God is still for you (Romans 8: 31) gives us confidence that He who began a good work (or a good story) will surely take it to completion (Philippians 1:6).
I find this Jackie Hill Perry quote an apt place to draw to a close: “We get confused when suffering comes when we think God is more committed to our comfort than He is to our sanctification”. God is so good in that He makes us look more and more like the main character of His story each day.
In reflection, I would like to leave you with these three encouragements
- Get to know the Author. Characters in fictional storylines don’t have this opportunity. The author is complete unbeknownst to them, they just move as the author has them move. We, however, do know the author and have access to Him. In His story, and in history, we have seen God make his dwelling amongst men (John 1:14). God lives in us through the Holy Spirit, by faith and so in the same faith we can ask Him to show and lead us to where we are placed in His story.
- Share your testimony. Your story needs to be heard! A good example of this is the woman at the well in John 4. No matter how far you are in your journey with Christ, no matter how “dramatic” or “ordinary” your story may seem someone can always be blessed and God will always be glorified.
- Appreciate your story. This could get a whole article in itself, but I’ll touch on it briefly here. Your story is not worth comparing to someone else’s. Your story is precious to God and He died specifically to have a relationship with you. Whilst you might be on chapter 3, person X could be on chapter 7 and they may have had to endure certain things in previous chapters. Rest in the knowledge that everything God is allowing in your life as a believer is maturing you into the image and likeness of His Son. That’s the only person worth comparing yourself to.