Monday, October 14, 2013

On Living Better Stories: A Lesson Learned

“I wish there was a way to know you are in the good old days, before you’ve left them.”
-Andy Bernard (The Office)

If you are anything like me, you often view your life as an ever evolving story that God is writing before you eyes, and you simply need to try your best to stay close to Him in prayer and fellowship with other Christians, so that He can bless you in all that you do. Thus each decision you make, and each conversation you have, is a small part of the grand story of your life that God has known will occur since before time began.

I have read books also by some insightful writers like Donald Miller and Bob Goff who challenge each of us to live better stories with our lives. That means taking risks and trying new things, while trusting God throughout each and every adventure that we begin to walk out.

Part of living that story I think is not constantly looking back on our pasts and longing for ‘the good old days’ for extended periods of time. It is fine to look back and see what God has taught you, and remember the trials He has brought you through, but living consistently in the past is dangerous for our futures.

                    Solomon says as much in Ecclesiastes 7:10 “Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” If you find yourself asking these questions in your mid-20’s it is probably a good idea to ask yourself another question: what can I do at this point in my life to live a better story for The Lord?

                    I know this to be true, because back at the end of last December I hit a bit of a depression. I still was living at home with parents at age 25, still working at a part time job I have had since college, felt like I had no real gifts to use in serving Jesus, and was looking back to 2011 as being the ‘glory days of my life”

                    Not a good idea by any means. But it is where I was in those few days. Fortunately, I trekked down to Atlanta with many of the rest of my friends from Church to attend the annual “Passion” conference. Throughout those three and half days down there, God spoke to me a lot about the fact that He doesn’t save people and give them no gifts to serve Him with henceforth. He showed me that while I may not have the artistic talents I have always desired, He has blessed with gifts in hospitality, mercy and teaching. Not everyone has these gifts, but He has given them to me. I came back to Cleveland, ready to begin taking action to change my bummer story into a bright story!

                    First I began talking with my other good guy friends about seriously sitting down and hunting for a house for us to rent together. My best friend, another good friend and I met up, sat down and talked and prayed about who the other two men we should ask to rent this house with us should be. We soon found our fourth man, and soon after that, God allowed us to find our fifth man. All five of us then, with the help of an incredibly kind and fellow Christian Realtor found a house for all five of us to rent within our financial means. God has grown me incredibly in these last six months of living in Christian male community, and we have had many awesome times in this house already!

                    As far as finding a full time job has gone, well, I still don’t have that yet, but due to God, and my Dad getting on my butt about applying more and networking with people, I at least have had a couple of interviews and made a few contacts! I know God has this in His hands and am trusting Him to provide in this area! At least, I do have a job that allows me to pay my bills each month, though with very little wiggle room.

                    As far as knowing more now what my gifts are, well, I began teaching in the toddlers room at my church once a month and am stepping out in Faith by this month beginning to lead my very first Bible study at the house I share with four other fellas. This blends both my gifts for teaching and hospitality quite nicely.  I have also forced myself to try and listen more when people talk, and not always be the one talking. In doing that, I have found that people often want to share their stories with others who are willing to listen, and I can have a compassionate ear when these stories involve hard circumstances, thus operating in my gift of mercy and compassion.

                    I now don’t look back so often and think that my best days have passed me by, rather I realize that I am living some amazing stories and times right now, and unlike Andy from The Office in the quote at the top of this blog, I kind of have a feeling that I may in fact be in one of my best eras of my life right now, and I thus, am going to keep seizing each chance God gives me to continue living a great story!