Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Stay in Our Own Story


One of the temptations that can arise from listening to other people's stories is to become increasingly dissatisfied with our own. We drive home from church on Sunday wondering why our afternoon plans are to fix the fence rather than feed the hungry - as the missionary shared about that morning. We heat up leftover lasagna aware that we could have made a double batch to share with someone else, or question why we didn't invite someone over for lunch. Suddenly, we want another life, a restart or a drastic and spastic change to occur so that we can tell a different story. Shame creeps in, blame creeps in and the cold hiss of a serpent's presence feels close at hand. 

This is what Satan does best. He's a deceiver. He doesn't tell you what he's up to, he just hints that maybe someone else is holier than you are. He convinces you that instead of fixing the fence that has been broken for a year, you should volunteer at a homeless shelter. There, he suggests, don't you feel better? He tries to get you to like his approval and your own approval more than God's. He might even suggest that God's voice is too hard to hear, that God is silent or slow - so it's better to take matters into your own hand. He has a way of twisting God's words into something similar but completely in the wrong direction. 

We need to learn to stay in our own story.

Augustine said, "You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." Nothing–not an inspiring testimony, or a week-long list of 'do-gooder' tasks will ease the ache within our souls . . . only God. We must stay within our own story and look to Him.  It is from this posture that we must look to God for his direction for our lives.

And here's what happens when we do . . .

"But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." Galatians 5:22-23

We have the freedom to fix a fence, take a nap, heat up lunch for our family or ourselves. We can pray for the missionaries who are feeding the hungry and we can prayerfully ask the Lord to show us how to live with compassion. But we can stay within our own story and be about the things that make us who we are. Our calendars, our schedules and our to-do lists are not a hinderance to God's Spirit working in our lives. He will speak, He will guide, He will lead us . . . we only need to pay attention to Him. That's all. 

So today, let's resist the temptation to think that God is more alive in someone else's story and instead turn to Him in anticipation for what He will do in ours.