By Brian Sharpe
The older I get, the more I think in terms of story. All of us have a story. In some ways, we have two stories: we have our story and we have God’s story. I think the people with the most integrity understand how those stories coalesce and work together. Let me unpack this for you.
I am the youngest of four, and that shapes my story. My dad was a pastor, and that shapes my story. I moved when I was 16 to a state where I knew no one and had to start over in life, which shapes my story. I have had some wins and I have had some losses, and that shapes my story.
Every experience I have shapes how I look at life. This is normal and natural. The problem comes when the experiences that I have in life trump what God says is true. Over the years, I have had some experiences in my life that were so painful that I could have let them trump what God says. I have had instances in my life where I have made the wrong choice and consequently felt unloved. I could sit there and believe that I am unloved. I could listen to my experience and let that shape how I feel and ultimately react. Or I can trust what I know to be true from Scripture. God says that I am deeply loved, that His love for me is not based on what I do, but is based on Him and what He has chosen to do.
We have all had experiences that were not of our choosing. It could be that we were wronged severely, or it could be that, because we live in a fallen world, death came too early for a loved one. It could be because of a divorce or an abusive situation. All these situations are not what we would have chosen, but they happened. All these situations shape our stories. The question is, are we allowing these negative events in our lives to control the main narrative of our story? We cannot change these events, but we can limit the control these events exercise in our story by allowing God’s narrative to shape and to be on the forefront of our story, not in the background.
I see way too many people who allow real circumstances, feelings, and consequences to have too much control. Instead, I want Jesus and what He says to take control. He can forgive the past, and so can I. He can heal a wounded heart, so I need to trust Him in that. He can take my mistakes and the things done to me to bring glory and honor to His name. We need to receive what Jesus is giving us. We need to receive that He is making us whole, that He can make us whole in this broken, messed-up world. We have two stories, and my prayer is that we yield to God’s story and His narrative and let His narrative shape us more than our own. It is hard, but it is so worth it!