Everyone has a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. No matter what page you’re on, God is right there with you, even if you’re not aware of it. In the times of darkness and despair, at the height of great wonder and joy, in the wasteland of stifling boredom or crippling indecision, he’s never left you.
Everyone has a story. Here’s mine.
When I was about seven years old, I found a set of Bible storybooks by Arthur S. Maxwell on the bottom shelf at my grandmother’s house where I lived. I was a big reader, so I read them all: all 411 stories, all 10 volumes, from Genesis to Revelation. They were a little old-fashioned even then, but they comforted me through an anxious childhood filled with uncertainty. No one explained them to me; in fact, I mostly kept it a secret that I had read them. In my family, you didn’t talk about religion or God or Jesus. Those were private, personal things that would have been embarrassing to mention or discuss. So I very quietly became a Christian in my heart, reading about God, praying to him, and even talking with him as a friend through many difficult times.
Within a couple of years, though, my world fell further apart and so did my relationship with the Lord. Four states, ten schools, two stepfathers, and countless other personal struggles (later of my own making) drove a wedge into my relationship with God and pointed me in the opposite direction. I wasn’t actively an atheist. I just didn’t think about God … ever. For the next 20 years, I focused on myself: my career, my relationships, my possessions, my shrinking and troubled family, and my own unsuccessful attempts to give meaning to my life.
Life-Changing Plot Twists
Around age 30, three things happened that changed my life. Looking back, I see God’s hand in each of them:
1. As a public high school teacher, I was assigned to teach two sections of “Bible as Literature.” So I taught the Bible—strictly as literature, of course, but when you teach literature you have to read it, and you ought to do some research and extra reading to prepare for class, so I did. I read the Bible, and I read books about the Bible. It was all vaguely familiar to me, thanks to Arthur S. Maxwell and The Bible Story. And in my late 20s, I was ready to revisit it and pay attention.
2. After this Bible class, I picked up a copy of Mere Christianity. I had many questions after teaching that class and I thought maybe I’d find answers in this book. C.S. Lewis discussed religion, God, and Christianity in a thoroughly rational manner, using a step-by-step approach to guide readers from skepticism to an understanding of how things must be in the world in order to logically make sense. This reasonable explanation was highly appealing to me and it became obvious by the time I finished the book that he must be right.
3. By now I was pregnant with my first child (my husband wasn’t yet a believer but had started to read the Bible and Mere Christianity as well). Now, I had been raised to be a very strong, very outspoken, pro-choice feminist, and I hadn’t departed from that path. But this ingrained belief system came crashing down during my first pregnancy when I realized beyond a doubt that I was entrusted with another human life inside of me, who depended on me for his very existence. I was now living for someone else besides myself. Because all of these things happened right around the same time in my life, my about-face to a pro-life stance will forever go hand-in-hand with my conversion and acceptance of Jesus as my Savior.
Making Sense of Our Stories
Why did he let me wander for 20 years? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because I needed to see how empty and meaningless my life was when I was in charge of it.
Why did he call me back? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because I finally realized there was a hole in my life that couldn’t be filled any other way but to ask him back in and give him the reins.
My story is long and complicated, as is yours. This is only one part of it: my testimony. Your story, your testimony, is different, and just as amazing—because it’s yours.
If you don’t yet have a testimony (or even if you do), please know these things that it took me so many years to learn:
- There has never been a day when God didn’t know you and love you.
- It’s never too late to find out what he’s all about, or to return to him if you once knew him.
- You’re never too far gone or too entrenched in _____________ (fill in the blank) to ask for forgiveness and change your life.
- He is a God of mercy and love, and he shows that love in the person of his son Jesus, who died for you and for me.
He’s ready to write the rest of your story. It may not be any easier than the one you’ve been writing, and it doesn’t promise lifelong happiness or perfection in any way. But it’s the story he has for you, and you can trust him with it.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” —Matthew 7:7
Want to know more about God’s Great Story, and Where You Fit In?