Monte Hunt – Associate Worship Pastor
I see it everyday. From the clothes we buy, to the restaurants we frequent: our culture has a romanticized fascination with the appearance of history. But appearances can be deceiving.
I can buy a “road-worn” guitar that’s never struck a chord, and play it in my brand new “distressed” designer jeans at the grand opening of the barbeque joint down the street that’s made to look a hundred years old. Yet, every dent, ding, and scuff; every rip, tear, and hole; every rust spot, stain, and blemish in all of this is for the sake of appearances.
There are many plausible reasons and applications for this appeal, but I’d like to focus on one in particular. What I see is an individualistic culture’s desire to fast-track its way into being associated with deep and powerful stories without having to actually live through the stories themselves – where the scars occurred.
But our attraction to the appearance of history is ultimately rooted in our genuine love and connection with actual history. Many people invest time and resources to visit locations across the world that are filled with real history: the Sistine Chapel, Gettysburg, the Smithsonian, and the Grand Ole Opry to name a few. Without the authentic stories that are etched into these places, they are forgotten spaces. It is history, and the stories of people therein, which brings the significance.
Each of us has been profoundly impacted and changed by someone else’s history. We listen intently as they tell their story of conflict, struggle, triumph and resolution – and in an instant we can be transformed! Yet we then gloss over the fact that our moment of transformation came from a story that was years, decades, or perhaps a lifetime in the making. And so, in turn we desire to have an influential story of our own. But we want it in the time it takes to tell the story, not to live it.
In the Bible, we read story after story of people who didn’t have all the answers. They waited year after year, acquiring scar after scar, attaining a revelation, meaning, and purpose to their story. Are you and I willing to do the same? It takes us a single breath to read a sentence that says, “Forty years later…” but in a culture of instant gratification, are we up to the challenge of living out a story like that ourselves?
Today I encourage you to take heart in knowing that God is not finished with your story. There is much that is left to be written about you: more scars to acquire, stumbles from which to get up, more love and grace to pour out and receive, and more victories to celebrate. And if you can admit your mistakes, forgive others of theirs, and pursue a life of godly character and integrity, you too will have a powerful story of influence to share.
If you are a young person reading this: do not carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You are young! Your story is just beginning! And when you see the overnight success stories pop up around you, know that none of them truly happened overnight. And even if it did, it will fade as quickly as it arrived. Have patience and trust in God’s timing for your life. Not for a year, or even ten. Trust him now and always.
And if perhaps you are reading this and you feel that much of your story has been squandered: it’s never too late to start writing a new chapter with God at the center. Because “God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
In a culture that simply expects you and I to look the part, I challenge you to live it. Have patience in your suffering, knowing that there is a completed story on the other side for you and others to tell. Entrust your life to the Master Story Teller.
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“Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish it’s work so that you might be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” James 1: 2-4
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4