I always wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. I wanted to own a purple bookstore called the Huckleberry House. I was going to write stories and people, real people, were going to read them. Shelves would be weighed down with my name written across the spine in gold letters and it would be glorious. I might even be rich.
When you’re a kid, you can be and do anything, and grown-ups are the ones who tell us these things. Grown-ups leave out the hard parts, hoping we won’t give up on our dreams, but somewhere along the growing-up process, we do. We follow this narrative that permeates our society pointing us to the only path of success that lead to total domination of the American dream. We live for the hopes to pin our tale on the bullseye of prosperity, achievement and fame.
I grew up with this version of reality. In a small town in the dead-center of Washington State, I was going to make my dream come to life. Central Washington University was my golden-ticket to a comfortable life. I’d work three jobs, be a cadet in ROTC, take 18 credits and smile. I could do it all. Yeah, I can bust out a paper in an hour. Yeah, I can do 5 more push-ups. Yeah I can take care of myself and look good doing it. I didn’t need a man, a god, or any help, thank you very much. I was the hero in this story.
Things fell out of my grasp one by one. I lost my grades, friends and sense of self all within a three-month period. I unraveled into someone I didn’t even recognize. My plans were dashed against the rocks, and I was stuck for a very long time. Little did I know, that one chapter was to end and a new one to begin.
A co-worker turned friend asked me to come see her get baptized. I planted myself in a seat and was overwhelmed with 20 stories of Jesus. They told me He died for me, even if I didn’t know Him. They told me He loved me, even though I was His enemy. They told me I could live in the light again. I didn’t know them, but I was crying over these strangers and what they’d proclaimed to me. Twenty times over I was told I am a desperate sinner, who deserves death, but Jesus, God’s precious and only son was sent to take my place and die on the cross so that I may live eternally in the Father’s embrace. And I believed them.
But I also had questions. “Who is God?” was made clear to me through leaders in Resonate Church who discipled me and told me about God’s character. “Where do I fit in, God?” was answered with a Village, and family I never knew I had. Harder questions came too. “What does this mean, God?” sometimes wasn’t answered. “Why, God?” I cried out from time to time. After I got baptised, I said,“How can I live for you, God?” and the role I could have on mission was revealed to me. When God asked me to move to a town, I had never heard of, I asked, “When, God?” Every doubt, and challenge I made was answered the same way;
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
A shift had occurred in my life that I never thought could happen to me, all I had to do was give up control. The author of the universe has a grand adventure for us to be a part of. The social cost is worth it. The lack of comfort is worth it. To be a part of this narrative, we need to relinquish the white knuckles we have on what we deem to be our life, our future. Instead of spinning our own tales of tragedy, we are invited to glorify in the triumph that is the kingdom of God.
In this story, it is no longer about me. I gained a new life in Him. My Only God moment came when I realized; my life is not about me. It’s not about the transformation He has displayed in my life, but the glory He gets when I put my life in His hands. I am the pen in his hand. May he tell a story of our trials, obedience, and never-ceasing praise and his sovereignty, omnipotence, and mercy. The ultimate truth is that my story is gone, swept away with the dust, and in its place is God’s story. Every part of me is now His. He has taken away a husk of a life I lived and replaced it with a purpose so great, how dare I call it my own?
He is continuing this epic story in Monmouth, Oregon. After visiting this town little more than a stoplight, the lostness was made so very prevalent to me. The transformation in my life had been the direct result of a church plant and Jesus made it clear to me that I needed to play a role in spreading the Gospel. The saga He is telling here at Western Oregon University is nothing short of a revival.This year, we stood by and watched as the power of the Gospel changed thirteen lives, and brought them to a new life in baptism. When the power of the Gospel is unleashed, nothing short of miraculous can happen. My own deserted heart was planted in the Oregon rain, and there it bloomed. There is so much more joy to being a small part of God’s story than trying to be the author of your own life. The narrative being told is gloriously something that Only God can and will continue to accomplish.