Do you have one? I don’t… at least not when measured by the world’s standards. Let me explain.
By fantastic, I don’t necessarily mean grand, glorious, excellent, superb or a dozen or so other synonyms meaning the same. What I mean is more along the lines of a “brought-back-from-the-ashes” kind of fantastic. You know what I’m talking about. A life-story that includes an extreme, seemingly debilitating circumstance that is eventually overcome by the kindness and grace of God to go on to become a shining witness for all those who happen by for a look, maybe even a best-seller.
I’ve come across a lot of those stories as of late; in particular, this afternoon while perusing the shelves at a local Christian bookstore. Rows and rows of books filled with the latest “triumph over tragedy” life-stories that ask for my attention… my wallet as well. And while I am grateful for God’s extension of grace and healing into the lives of those directly affected by painful, life situations, I’m wondering why the rest of our stories don’t “shelve” alongside these best-sellers. Why doesn’t a “less-fantastic” life get as much press as a “brought-back-from-the-ashes” kind of one?
As a writer, I’ve heard a lot of talk regarding “story”—about needing to have one… about what mine is and why others would want to read it. That kind of talk always leaves me feeling a bit hollow and inferior. Why? Because my life hasn’t lived, necessarily, in accordance with “fantastic.” Don’t misunderstand me. Grace is always fantastic regardless of how it arrives in the lives of God’s children. Every last one of us has experienced a “brought-back-from-the-ashes” kind of fantastic when it comes to God’s grace and all its amazing. What I mean is that not all of us have had to endure the trauma of something horrible prior to grace’s rescue. And just in case you’re wondering, I don’t wish for a Christian witness that’s in keeping with some of the horrors that my brothers and sisters have had to endure in order to receive their “fantastic” witness. I imagine many of them would trade their previous dread for a life lived less dramatically, less needful of an edge-of-the-seat, last minute kind of intervention. Still and yet, that kind of story seems to be what sells, what readers want, what lines the shelves of my local Christian bookstore.
If that’s the case, then I don’t have much of a story, at least not one that would sell. Certainly, I could talk about being the mother of four kids, but that’s not very original. I could talk about being a pastor’s wife, but that’s been done before. I’ve walked through a divorce, but these days that’s nothing new, certainly not headline worthy. I suppose if you’re the one walking through a divorce, it is. Sixteen years ago, it was a big, huge deal for me, but I’m mostly past that now. I don’t want to write about it, anymore than you’d want to read about it. It’s just not that fantastic. Today I live and walk in the grace that’s been afforded to me via the cross and in the spirit and freedom of Romans 8:1-2:
“Therefore, there is now no commendation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
So I’m wondering; perhaps you are as well…
What makes a life a worthy read? Why does one merit more press than another? Why do some stories garner the attention of readers while others get passed over? What if you had to “sell” your story to a publisher? Why would anyone choose to read your “life” over another one that has lived, perhaps, a bit more “fantastically?”
It’s not a fair question, for I happen to believe that all stories of grace are worthy of print. Funny how we get hung up on ranking the witness of God’s grace. Maybe you aren’t that shallow. Maybe you see the bigger picture. Maybe I’m just on a bit of a soap box tonight, but truthfully, I’ve grown a bit weary with it all.
I don’t need a story of “fantastic” grace to buoy me along in my faith journey. Rather, a story of daily grace will do me just fine. A day-in, day-out, walking it through kind of story that has lived a lifetime worth of days within the boundaries of holy living. An everyday life lived in an everyday way because a long time ago the lead character in the story made a decision to live an everyday Jesus in every kind of way. Not fantastically; just daily.
I imagine that’s most of you. Thank God for that… for a life that has lived free from some of the hardships of our brothers and sisters, from some of the prodigal lifestyles chosen by them as well. If today you’re living and breathing the same witness of faith that you lived yesterday… that you lived ten years ago, maybe even fifty years ago, then to God be the glory, and pass me your book please! What makes your story a worthy read (at least in my opinion) is your steadfastness to keep on doing what pleases God, come what may. To never stray too far off the path of grace, thus sparing yourself the need for a dramatic rescue from the heavenlies. To be content to live godly, even though it may never garner you the attention of the world.
Make no mistake… if you’re living godly, you’re being noticed. God is paying attention to your every chapter, even if you or others currently consider them mundane and ordinary. He’s adding the color along the way and as you go, and one day soon, you’ll see the fruition of his “fantastic” spin on your story. When you get home to him, you’ll find your book, shelved there alongside those of the ancients of old. It won’t go unnoticed or unpublished. It won’t be tucked away or forgotten or overshadowed by those whose stories you once deemed more worthy of recognition. No, your story of daily grace will stand front and center… in the very hands of God, and he will call it good and finished and a perfect fit in keeping with his kingdom library.
And that, my friends, is the making of a fantastic life story—one that begins and ends with our Father’s commendation. It may not make the shelves of Borders, but you can be certain it will make the shelves of heaven. I, for one, cannot wait to sit ringside with you and hear our Father read your story aloud for all of creation’s notice. Your life is just that good… just that worthy.
Believe it. Live it all the more. Here’s my toast to your beautiful, noteworthy life lived with God’s daily grace. I love you and thank you for investing good kingdom seed into the soil of my heart. As always…
Peace for the journey,
Copyright © August 2010 – Elaine Olsen