As I write this, I am sitting at a table nestled by a window at a coffee shop in Otsego, Michigan. For the past couple hours I have seen a multitude of people pass by. I have always liked watching people. Somewhere during my time in college I stopped seeing people only skin deep. When I look at them now I see wells. Wells of hopes and dreams, failures and successes, darkness and light. In short, I see people as unfinished stories that are being written in real time. Like the guy who just walked by the window holding a bouquet of purple flowers. I wonder who he is taking them to. Is it his wife? Maybe they just had an argument and he decided to make things right and bought some flowers as a peace offering. Maybe his aunt is in the hospital and he knows that flowers will brighten her day. Or the two older ladies who just walked in together each with the same book in their arms. They sit at the table next to me and proceed to talk about what they were learning from the book. I wonder how long they have been reading the same books. Were they childhood friends, or did they meet later in life and realize that they had the same taste in books?
The truth is that there are about fifteen stories buzzing around me right now. The baristas cleaning the machines behind the counter, the group of older men sipping coffee on the other side of the room, the police officer who just added creamer to his drink, and the man who has sat in one of the easy chairs on the other side of the room longer than I have been here. We are all stories. We all have our vices and virtues. And all of us have lived a series of events that led us here.
I used to wonder why God created most of the Bible in the form of a story. I pictured that if I was God I would have done it different. I am a theoretical guy. I love sitting in old libraries and reading old systematic theology books. But God did not give us a textbook. He gave us a book full of stories of the real lives of regular people and their interactions with God. I think sometimes we romanticize Bible characters. We love to talk about David killing Goliath, Abraham leaving his home to go to the Promised Land, or Moses parting the Red Sea. We ignore the fact that these were regular people who wrestled with God.
In fact, if you were to look at the characters etched in the pages of Scripture, you would find some pretty raw stories. Before Moses led the people of Israel, he murdered an Egyptian and was forced to run from home. Abraham wrestled with doubt that God would really fulfill His promises. David had an affair with a woman he lusted after and, after finding out she was pregnant, found her husband and had him killed so that he could keep her as a wife. And that is only the start of it. Peter denied Christ, Thomas doubted Jesus rose from the dead, Paul murdered Christians, Solomon turned to his wisdom, possessions, and posse of women for satisfaction. The list could go on. The Bible is full of people who were filled with unbelief, anger, lust, and greed.
But God did not leave the characters there. He walked with them along their personal journeys, transforming them into who he designed them to be. The Bible says that Abraham eventually believed God, and that was counted to him as righteousness. David repented and had the reputation of being a man after God’s heart. The story is similar with many of the characters in the pages of Scripture.
I don’t know about you, but when I see that God chose ordinary people with raw lives, that encourages me. I may not speak for all of us on this, but I think many of us feel that we have some pretty messed up things in our lives and often feel that not even God could change it. The pain is too real. You are too far from God. The addiction is too strong. Etc. The truth is that He is in the business of redeeming our stories, even the most twisted and bruised up ones.
We just released a book that tells some of the stories of the people in our church. And they are pretty raw. Abuse, anxiety, sex addiction, disease, the list goes on. It is a book full of failures and darkness. But God did not leave those stories there. It is also a book filled with hope. It is a book filled with Christ snapping chains and tearing down walls. Because that is what He does. The same Christ that worked in Abraham, David, and Moses is the same God that works in the lives of us today.
What is your story? The same God that parted the waters before Moses is the same God that meets you in midst of your pain today. The God who forgave David’s sin of adultery is same God who forgives you. The same God who rose Christ from the dead is here to resurrect you too.
He is able to heal you too.
Interested in learning more about our book, “Nothing Hidden”?
Contact the church today, or pick one up after services Saturday or Sundays!