Friday, March 30, 2018

How big is your story?

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Rachael had some big questions over the past month or two. Well, one big question that leads to a lot more!

Rachael is our 17-year-old daughter. Most of Rachael’s schooling has been in secular schools. She did prep at a Christian school and the next nine years in secular schools. Last year, in the middle of year 10, she asked if she could move to a Christian high school.

For 10 years, her ‘faith at school’ has been about the way she lives her faith at school. Now, her school is telling her about ‘her faith’ and she’s not so sure. She’s got questions. And I love it!

One morning last month, Rachael asked if I could take her out for a hot drink before school and we could talk. We joined the drive-thru at Macca’s and then, two hot drinks between us, headed to a quiet place near her school.

With 30 minutes to go, she asked, “Why is this school so focused on rules? It seems, every time they start talking about Jesus, or God, or faith it isn’t long, and they are talking about rules. Why do they think being a Christian is all about rules?”

I was so happy, I nearly dropped my coffee. I said, “Rachael, you have no idea how much it excites me to hear you ask that question!”

Her experience of faith at home didn’t gel with what she was hearing at school. The external Christian teaching of rules and regulations conflicted with the internal practice of confession and forgiveness she experiences at home.

I gave her a short answer and then went into my day thinking about her question. A couple of days later, after I picked her up from school, she asked to go to the lake for a chat. Having had time to think it through, I had a deeper answer for her.

It starts with a question: How big is your story?

Where you start and finish your telling of the Gospel controls the way you tell it and the way you live it.

Many Christians start in Sin and end in Heaven. Their story starts at Gen 3 and finishes at Revelation 20. But the Bible starts and finishes with a bigger story – a story that frames the sin/salvation story but isn’t controlled by it.

The Bible starts and finishes in a New Earth. One is created and a garden planted, the other is recreated and a city planted. Both are places of sinless beauty in which humanity is empowered to serve as stewards of all that is good.

If we start our story in Genesis 1 and finish in Revelation 22 as the Bible does, we will be living the whole story, now. The Great Creation story empowers humans, created bearing the image of God, with the purpose of nurturing relationships. Tell the whole story and you will live a story which builds God’s Kingdom rather than a story that teaches people how to live in this broken one.

By abbreviating the story, we sell God short by telling a story short of His glory.

The short-story Gospel tells people, “You are a wretched sinner! You are a sinful abomination abhorrent to a perfect God. Confess your sin or die in Hell!”

When approached with this story, most people say, “No, thank-you!” That is if they haven’t already run away in a cold sweat.

But, The long-story Gospel - the Great Creation Story - says, “I am so glad we found you! God is preparing a place in His Kingdom for you and has a purpose for you, right now. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is ready. You were created with a purpose in mind. God made you in His image and that image has been lost in the mess of this world. Come and let God bring His Image to the surface in your life. Come and discover your true purpose!”

I can’t imagine one person who would run away screaming from this invitation. “You belong. You are wanted. You have a purpose. You are beautiful in God’s eyes!”

Tell them who they really are. Recover the Image of God in His Creation.

Tell the whole story!

A Family of Forgiveness

A few weeks ago at church, I was up the front to say the main prayer. As I reached the rostrum, my two sons, Cyrus and Michael, approached me holding the offering bags. They are both deacons and had just collected the offering. As is the tradition in our church, the deacons bring the offering to the front for prayer.

Forgiveness & Other Acts of Love by [Dowrick, Stephanie]
I've enjoyed reading this book.
It will not leave you unchanged.
My two boys, 18 and 19 years old, in church, involved. Standing before the altar. Presenting an offering. My heart swelled with gratefulness to God. I said two words - from the depths of my heart. "My boys!" It was a prayer of gratitude, a prayer of praise. "My Boys!"

Sometimes, I wonder, “How did we get here?” Three teenagers that love the Lord, love being involved in church and actually love each other! What’s going on? Or, maybe a better question, what’s gone on - to get us here?

We are not perfect parents. We are parents in process. I am not a perfect father or a perfect husband. Long ways from it. So, what happened?

A year or two ago, Cyrus and I were driving. I was in a particularly low place emotionally and apologised to him for my failings. Cyrus is a very thoughtful person and careful communicator. But this time, without even pausing to reflect, he said, “I respect you more because of your failings, Dad.”

“Really?” I said, stunned.

“Well, not because of them,” Cyrus said. “Because of how you deal with them. You fix things. You say sorry. You ask forgiveness. You and Mum both.”

“You’re definitely right about your, Mum.” I said, “She’s my living example of what Jesus did for us on the Cross!”

“You both are,” Cyrus said, “to all of us. We watch you and Mum. You really love each other. Love is forgiveness. That’s what you’ve taught us. And, I believe you because it’s real. We see it.”

I’m not telling you this story to brag. I haven’t got it all figured out. When it comes to sin and forgiveness, I am not a one-shot wonder. The devil hit me with his shotgun. I’m full of holes. And, being open and honest about those holes makes faith real in the eyes of our children.

They see us plugging holes as we discover them. They see us asking each other for forgiveness and asking God for help. They experience us working together – as a family – on our failings. Not to earn salvation or to become perfect but to be healed, once again. Reconciled to each other. Made right and healthy and whole as a family.

The joy of Salvation is that you experience God’s grace repeatedly. The process of healing is wonderful. Forgiveness leads to health. Healthy relationships. Healthy Hearts. Healthy minds. Healthy bodies.

We all break down. And God is in the business of healing. Then, He gives us that work – the work of healing lives, relationships, hearts, minds and bodies. Paul called us "God’s reconcilers." We are both God’s work-projects and his workers! Not because we’ve got it all figured out but because we are all healing. And as we heal and lead others to healing we reveal His Love.

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...