Do you believe there is a cross of shared pain in the life of God? How could we not believe when time and time again His Hand of healing, help, and happiness keeps us singing as we ‘Go’ forth in a world filled with hatred and horror. Writing life’s love story without the blessed assurance that Jesus is mine (and yours) with a foretaste and promise of glory divine would be desolate with a dead (not happily ever after) ending.
Jesus calms and gives courage; yet, we must do our part and stay closely connected to the Lord and loved ones, if we hope to continue writing love stories with happy endings. We cannot be bound with pitiful, unforgiving, calloused hearts when seasons of sorrow, being mistreated, misunderstood, or not having our way tries to weave into our stories.
Do you marvel when reflecting on the amazing grace of a God who loves and looks after us throughout life’s journey, while we script stories pleasing (or not pleasing) to Him? Pausing to reflect on my own story, I ask forgiveness for seasons when God surely felt He was not the main character in my life. And oh how I thank Him for not bowing out but bearing with me, forgiving me, blessing me, and being ever present, first in my life as I keep writing His stories and sharing His love wherever He leads.
A devotion in a special book given to James and me is open beside my computer as I write. Today’s message talks about not having the ability within ourselves to truly forgive, how we are only able to forgive because God has forgiven us. Time and time again we seek and give forgiveness, but when I saw just how forgiven I was, I was free to let go of hurts inside my heart and mind. Are you holding to hurts that keep you from enjoying life and being close to the Lord and your loved ones? Forgiveness is a great gift from God that makes a difference in our lives when we truly embrace it with a tender, loving heart.
Lewis Smedes describes it this way: “There is a cross of shared pain in the life of God. This is why he never shuts the door to us. You can bet on it; he will always forgive. He does not merely forget, he does not merely understand; he puts himself at our side and says, ‘Let’s start over. I will be your father. I will be your friend. I will be your Savior. So let’s get going.”
The story God is telling – like every great story (yours and mine) that echoes it – reminds us of eternal truths we should keep in mind as we ‘get going’!
First, things are not what they seem. There is far more going on around us than meets the eye. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who loved us enough to die on the cross and promised a Helper would come to comfort and guide us.
Second, we are at war. We are writing love stories set in the midst of life and death battles. There are captives, lost souls, and broken hearts everywhere. We are in a battle for human hearts to invite Jesus in, trust and obey, and have victory by writing stories scripted by our Savior.
Third, we are important characters who must be active not passive. It is a dangerous thing when we underestimate our role in the Story. We must not lose heart and miss our cues if we are to understand our writing. We are living in desperate days. Caring, confident, courageous Christians are needed. Jesus is with us as we muster up courage to get going, rise up to recover our hearts, and fight for the hearts of others.
Jesus died on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He calls us to be his intimate ally. There are great things to be done and sacrifices to be made. We will not lose heart if we stay connected to Him. May this story stir God’s Story into peoples’ hearts with renewed passion, purpose, and peace to keep loving and living by His Son’s example. Then, we can enjoy the promise of the place prepared for us. When, ‘The End’ is written on our last chapter here, an eternal love story in heaven will have just begun.
Becky Spell Vann is a long-time columnist for the Sampson Independent’s Faith & Family section and owner of the outreach ministry Tim’s Gift.