What’s your favorite story, and how does it end? (Here’s mine –> . For the record, I didn’t know the ending when I started reading it, let alone that I would find myself in the same place as Raskolnikov only a few hours before I found out.)
Think also about the story you and God are writing together right now. How have you recently seen God working in your life and your relationships? How has seeing that helped you to grow? How does all that fit into the bigger story of your lifelong—your eternal—journey with Jesus?
It’s been said that we might be the only Bible some people will ever read. That can be a scary thought, especially given some of the chapters that we’ve already written. But the good news is: God is still writing. We don’t always understand why God adds or allows certain chapters in our lives, but we do know that He’s crafting our stories to end well.
Robert Gelinas, in his book Finding the Groove, states, “Every person we encounter is someone who is also on the verge of encountering Christ incognito.”And as with any good story, God builds on what he’s already done. If we cooperate, our stories will always be moving forward, no matter how much we or other people might see or don’t see.
So let’s consider what the next chapter in our lives might look like, by considering what God’s written already, both in our lives and in His word. Let’s start with arguably my second-favorite passage in the Bible (and the other isn’t far behind—in fact the latter paragraph, last I heard, is my youngest daughter’s favorite passage):
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit”(2 Corinthians 3:8-18, NET).
“More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness. My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
“Not that I have already attained this – that is, I have not already been perfected – but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8-14, NET)
How does staying focused on what God’s going to do help keep you going right now? How does it also help you to let go of your own expectations or fears, and to just smile and say, “OK God, whatever’s next—bring it on”?
We are always learning. “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!” as Thomas Merton says. Still, we do know what God has already taught us, and that might well be an indicator of what He’s preparing us for. So think about this:
• What are you doing (or need to be doing) right now that you know Jesus wants you doing? Sum it up in a sentence or two; be specific.
• What do you think the next chapters in your story might look like? Who are the main players in it? Feel free to dream aloud here.
• Who can continue to support and encourage you, and vice versa, as you begin the next chapter?
Spend some time praying right now. Thank God for being with you always, and for the people He’s put in your life—whose examples, whose challenges, whose friendships help keep you growing out further and yet closer to God. Thank Him for the parts of your story He has yet to write, and for the parts He’s already written.
May you be able to celebrate the love God has for you, and your love for one another—and to take that love wherever God sends you next.