Our lives are wrapped around story.
We live, breathe, and have our being in God’s great narrative.
And it becomes clearer as we co-operate with Him in the unfolding story we are all a part of.
Each tale we tell has a beginning, middle and end.
Each story we are currently living out is ongoing, yet with great potential for change.
Today, I invite you to pull up a chair, grab a coffee and make yourself comfortable as I share some of my story with you.
As one who is nearer the tail end than the beginning, I share by way of third person narration, looking back on myself as I was as a child.
Once upon a time, a little girl liked nothing better than to curl up with a good book. Spurning slumber, she sat tent-like in the bed-sheets, devouring the current favourite before her by the light of a tiny torch.
Reading in bed meant potentially disturbing her sister and maybe incurring the disapproval of parents. Reading anything much altogether, unless it was schoolwork, or comics bought to buy her silence, was frowned upon.
Even as her mother sat at table, ash falling carelessly, book in front of her and fag in hand, ignoring her children; it was never seen as desirable behaviour to adopt.
Wasn’t childhood meant to be lived out of doors? Out of sight and out of mind of the adults. What a waste of time to bury yourself in books. Best to get out and play.
Yet it meant so much. Escape. Diversion. Distraction. The world around already crowding in too close for comfort. Adult life breathing hot, whispering, secrets and lies that sent a shiver of dread down her spine and distaste souring her thoughts.
Writing was another release as she poured out her heart in poetry and prose. Here, she could be who she wanted to be, lose herself afresh in make-believe.
All too soon, life’s demands caught up with her and she found herself seeking other avenues of distraction, walking unsafe pathways, down dead-ends, pleasure seeking that brought no joy, still bending herself to the will of others.
One day, when drawn deeper still down dark tunnels of despair and destruction, she encountered a man bearing a lamp. The Light-bearer approached gently. He held out a hand of warmth and welcome.
He spoke words of reassurance and offered covering – His robe of righteousness and mantle of grace in exchange for the dirty rags she was wearing.
A new sensation grew in her heart as trust began to bloom again, filling and flooding her with hope. Someone was taking notice. Someone cared.
She was grateful for the new robe and loved to bury her face in its downy softness. After a while though, she forgot she was wearing it. Her old weeds of worry, worthlessness, shame, disgrace, guilt and pain wound their sinuous way around her once more and clung tenaciously.
Hope died. Her light dimmed and she lived for many years in Shadow-lands as one naked and ashamed.
Darkness shrouded her days as they passed in a blur. She gave every appearance of being alive while dying slowly on the inside.
Yet the Light-bearer’s lamp flickered briefly, reminding her that He was still present, despite seeming so far away she thought He’d left her side.
She hid. Herself, her talents, her hope and dreams all buried deep. Her creative ability to express herself hidden away so far she forgot she had ever had it.
A Voice called her name. Faint and indistinct at first, then growing stronger.
And she heard the Light-bearer come near, sensed the fragrance of His presence changing the very air she breathed, filling her lungs with a sweet perfume to cancel out the stale odours she’d been inhaling for so long.
He spoke:“Let them fall. Those old clothes don’t fit who you are anymore as a child of the King. All those years when you felt lost, out of place, sad and alone, I was with you. All that time when you wished you had a different life, different family, I had already bought you into Mine and given you new life. Now, take My hand and walk with Me into the future I have planned”.
Her throat constricted. She gasped and cried. And as she put her small hand in His she felt alive once more. More alive than she had felt for years.
Perhaps she could resume reading His book and find comfort and reassurance there?
Maybe she could begin to create, to write again? Let words pour forth as water. Or was it a discarded dream, never to return?
As if reading her mind, He bent low, took her chin in His hand with utmost tenderness, and said, “My beloved. You will write. You will pour out your heart once more. You will tell of your journey through the dark places and the Light waiting to guide you home. And in the telling you will help lead others back here too.”
Then He wrote this upon her mind and heart:
“I love you. I always have and I always will. You are safe with Me” and He signed it, ‘Jesus’.