July 21, 2014

Wrong Story?

Ephesians 2:1-10

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
—Ephesians 2:10


When my sons were little, sometimes I would pretend to get confused as I was telling them a familiar story. I would insert absurd plot changes into a favorite fairy tale, just to see if they were listening. They were never fooled: they knew how the stories were supposed to go. As soon as a main character headed off-track, they would correct me: That’s not how the story goes!

Sometimes I end up trying to change God’s story for me into another, more appealing, story. Here’s one of my favorites: “How I Become Famous and Wealthy Without Ever Having to Work Very Hard.” And another: “How Everyone Comes to Agree with Me on Just About Everything.”

But I’m discovering that much of the stress in my life comes when I try to redirect God’s ­story for me. The experience has always been frustrating.

Perhaps you’ve done the same thing: like trying to force God into providing you with a relationship or a career that simply wasn’t part of his story for you. We get so frustrated at such times that we almost miss God’s still, small voice saying: That’s not how the story goes.

God’s been helping me dis­cover that it doesn’t really matter whether my story goes where I think it should. What matters most is whether I end up where the story goes. Understanding this about our stories allows us to follow God in faith.

Lord, please show us how our stories are supposed to go. Thank you. 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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