“…in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:16b
Deep in the human heart is a desire to hear, and sometimes tell, a good story. It’s there from the beginning, as babies, sitting on a lap for story time. It’s there when we’re growing up, reading books, watching television, going to movies. It’s there when we get old, telling our own story to others, reminiscing with siblings about a shared childhood, or reliving long-ago moments when our present life is fading before our eyes.
The blockbuster Broadway hit Hamilton capitalizes on this universal human desire by telling the story of an often ignored founding father and his unknown but impressive wife, Eliza. After telling their fascinating story for more than two hours, the company asks the audience, “Who tells your story?” It’s powerful and poignant. It grabs your heart and reminds you that you do indeed have a story that may be someday forgotten to history but is equally important to every other story of anyone who’s ever lived. For those who cry easily, like I do, have a tissue handy for this one.
After hearing the powerful closing number of this musical, it’s almost inevitable to ask, “Who tells your story?” But a bigger and more revealing question might be, “Who knows your story?” Your whole story, that is. Your siblings? Your spouse? Your BFF? The fact is, no one knows your whole story. People will come and go in your life, entering at a certain chapter and departing in another, knowing part of your story and hopefully understanding you better because of it. Some will see only a paragraph or two; others will be there for nearly the entire book but are only skimming your narrative. Sadly, some may glance at the cover and believe that they know your story without actually understanding the characters or plot.
But God knows your story. And he doesn’t only know the parts that you know, the parts you remember, and the parts you live out every day. He also knows the Preface, the Afterword, the full Table of Contents, and the complete cast of characters. He sees every day how you deal with your story – both your previous chapters and your present struggles. He knows how your story will end, that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). His understanding is complete, filled with compassion and patience for you, his child.
When I think about my own story, I’m sometimes filled with regret or disappointment at my failures – mistakes I made 20 years ago, last month, or this very hour. Impatience with my children, a sharp word to my husband, neglected time with God, or lack of faith or self-control. A focus too much on worry for the outcome of my story rather than gratitude for the present scene. I worry that I’ll continue to make these same mistakes forever, from human weakness or selfishness or stubbornness. I see clearly my need for a Savior.
Then I remind myself that God sees my efforts, great or small, each and every day. And because God knows my whole story, he knows my struggles, what I have overcome, and what has brought me to where I am today. He alone has had full witness to my sometimes over-complicated plot, challenging secondary characters, chapter cliffhangers, self-absorbed narrator (that would be me), and unresolved endings. He alone has been beside me the entire way, and because of that, I feel a closeness to him, a dependence on him, and a gratitude toward him beyond what I can express. And when I continue to fall short, often daily, in different areas of my life, I remember the precious promise of Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Say that to yourself again – there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
God knows your whole story – the good, the bad, and the ugly. He loves you anyway. You are dear to him as his beloved child. Your story is unique, and he sees every day how you are fulfilling it, for better or for worse, in each moment. He is there beside you, as he always has been and will always be, from the time before your story began.
(This post originally appeared on EnCourage.)