Learning to Read Your Story

by Jeremy A. McKeen
God loves stories. In fact, most of the Bible is made up of stories. So what’s the purpose of all these stories? Are they just interesting Sunday-School lessons for children? Of course not. The stories in the Bible were written for you. This is what the Apostle Paul refers to when he says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Themes and Chords
If you learn to faithfully read the stories that God wrote and understand how God writes stories -then you can understand how God is writing your story. In other words, you learn to read the story that God is writing in the present by reading the stories that God has written in the past. So when a trial comes upon you, or you face a question you can’t answer, or perhaps receive a promotion you didn’t expect, you can remember the stories of Noah, Joseph, David, Daniel, Esther, and all the rest, and learn to read the story that you are in and respond appropriately.

Think about it this way, if you have a particular author or singer or movie director that you really like, and you begin to get into his or her work, you soon realize that this author loves to come back to these particular themes or this singer really likes these particular chords. It works the same way with God. God doesn’t have just one theme, but he does have some favorite themes. He has some favorite chord progressions. So what are God’s favorite chords? What are his favorite themes? One theme that comes up again and again is testing and deliverance  - God loves to bring His people to the edge of the cliff and deliver them at the final moment.  

Testing and Deliverance
In the story of Abraham offering up Isaac, God didn’t deliver Abraham after he saddled his donkeys and headed out the door. God didn’t deliver Abraham after his three-day journey to the mountain. God didn’t deliver Abraham after he got to the top of the mountain. God didn’t even deliver Abraham when he laid Isaac on the altar. God brought Abraham right to the point of holding up the knife, and then literally at the last second, God delivered Abraham. God provided a ram at the last moment, and it says, “So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide;” as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it will be provided”” (Gen.22:14). Notice, it became a saying in Israel that, “On the mount of the Lord, it will be provided.” That is, at the last minute, God will deliver you. The people of God learned to read their stories through the story of Abraham. The story of Abraham offering up Isaac reminds you that God is going to test your faith, but at the last minute he will deliver you.

God loves “Just-in-Time Deliveries.” God brought the Israelites to the edge of the Red Sea with the Egyptian armies bearing down, and then just in time, God parted the sea. I wonder, what is your “Red Sea” that needs to part? What is your “mount” that God will deliver you on? Hold fast. Keep believing. God will deliver you, even if it’s at the very last second. How did Abraham persevere in faith? He trusted God’s promises. God had promised him that “Through Isaac your offspring will be named.” Abraham believed that God would even raise Isaac from the dead rather than break his own promise. Often God will command you to do something that looks like it goes contrary to his promises. Keep believing. The thing is, you want to see God do the miraculous in your life, but that happens as you walk by faith and put yourself in a situation where God has to deliver you. Unfortunately, Christians can fail under temptation or turn back in fear, not realizing that deliverance was right around the corner. Every trial of blessing or difficulty is a testing of your faith.

Trials and Faith
Over and over, the Bible continues to point out that your trials are not meaningless. Your trials are not pointless. The things that seem to “come out of nowhere,” are in fact, coming from somewhere. Every aspect of your life is under God’s sovereign control who is testing and growing your faith. This is glorious news when you remember that God is absolutely perfect.

God is supremely and only good. Think about the story of Job. God allowed Satan to bring suffering into Job’s life, but was in complete control the whole time and delivered Job in the end. God doesn’t directly cause evil, but he does allow it and transforms it for your good. Think about the cross. At the cross you see the evil of man and the sovereignty of God bringing about the greatest deliverance known to man. The cross and resurrection of Jesus, his story, reminds you that God is in control of your story, and the best is yet to come! Remember, God is not the author of sin, but he is the author of your story, and before the curtain closes and the credits roll, he is going to display his glory and goodness to you and to the world.

What must God know that he can tell you not to be anxious about anything? What must God know that he can tell you not to fear? What must God know that he can tell you to always be patient in tribulation? He knows the end of the story, and the end of the story is complete deliverance. Your eternal salvation is in God’s hands and so is your present situation.  Trust God and watch the sea part. Trust God and walk up the mountain with faith in your heart.

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