July 20, 2014

Finding Your Story

James 4:13-17

You ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
—James 4:15


Deep inside each of us is a powerful desire to have a good life story. When our days on earth are completed, most of us want to be remembered warmly and with respect, as people who lived wisely and finished well—and maybe even prospered by God’s blessing.

But sometimes that desire can morph into a sense that we know where God’s story line for our lives ought to go.

We can see that in our one-directional prayers: “God, please help things in my life go this way!” We pray earnestly that God will provide us with a certain job or bring a certain blessing to our family, because deep down we’re pretty sure we know what would be best.

I find that I can easily become distracted by a mistaken sense of where I think my story ought to go. You can see evidence of that in the way I pray: “Lord, please help this opportunity to work out!” Or, “Lord, please make sure that kind of crisis or trouble doesn’t happen to me!”

God doesn’t promise to grant all of our requests. But he does promise that in all things he will work for our good, even if we can’t see it at the time.

Discovering this truth is slowly helping me learn to pray differently: “Lord, please make sure my story leads in the direction you want it to go!”

God, you know best. Forgive us for trying to write our stories for you. May we trust that your plan for us is the best one. Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at www.squintforgod.com.

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