February 24, 2011


1 Timothy 1:12-17

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
1 Timothy 1:15


Throughout this month we’ve been hearing stories together. We’ve heard the story of Jacob and the story of David—and how God used the very brokenness of their situations to lead them to real life in him.

The story of the apostle Paul is also inspiring. In our reading today Paul summarizes briefly, saying he was “a persecutor and a violent man”—“the worst of sinners.” But God showed him mercy, pouring grace and faith and love into his life. (See Acts 9:1-31 and then Acts 13-28.)

Recovery groups are filled with personal stories. In the safety of a recovery group addicts begin to rediscover the true story behind their lifetime of struggle. Denial crumbles and secrets are revealed. Guilt and repentance surface. Grace and forgiveness are claimed and shared with others. Members of a recovery group discover that their own story is reflected in the stories of other people in the group.

The same is true for us all. Every time we read a story about a sinner in the Bible, we have a chance to read a little deeper into our own stories of guilt and brokenness. But the Bible also contains another story: the story of God’s grace in Christ. Our personal stories intersect this amazing story of God’s love as we trust our Lord’s healing power.

Think about your story. Can you sense God’s leading? Has your life intersected with the life of Jesus Christ?

God, help us to learn from the Bible’s stories, and to discover the stories you are creating in our lives. 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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