This post will be a bit longer than normal, but stick with me. It will be worth it.
I grew up poor. Some call it dirt poor. I remember opening the refrigerator and seeing it vividly empty. Yet God in his grace visited us.
But for a long time I got the story wrong. I thought it was about me when it was really about others.
Let me explain. When you grow up poor like I did, your view of the world is small. I really didn’t know anything else. I really didn’t have a perspective of anything other than broken down cars, plumbing that didn’t work, and kerosene stoves—that is until I became rich.
Not rich in the normal sense mind you. Our neighbors down the street took pity upon us. Our house was a pack of six kids all dressed in hand me down clothes. And they brought us what we really needed: a children’s bible story book.
I’d never been to church, didn’t know what a church was, and church wasn’t even in my vocabulary. I had no sense of God, no understanding of God, and didn’t even know that he existed –until that book.
For the first time, I read the stories of Abraham and Isaac, Moses and the Red Sea, Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, and David and Goliath. My world came alive, and for the first time I realized there was a God and that I desperately needed him to save me.
I began to interact with the church down the street where my neighbors went. By most standards, it was small and unimpressive, but it was my beginning.
For the longest time that’s how I viewed the narrative. And it was a good and powerful narrative—something I realized that God was behind, until he showed me there was an even bigger narrative beyond myself.
It started innocently. I connected on Facebook with an old friend. She’d gone to the very church where I first attended. I remembered that her parents were key figures in that church—Joe and Ruth Collier. From my friend, I discovered that Joe and Ruth were comfortably planted in a suburban church when they felt God’s call to start a church in our little community.
Even that part of the story is remarkable. I wondered why anyone would want to start a little church in our little community of exactly 100 people. But somehow they had a vision for our community, and they went knocking on doors to begin the process of inviting people and sharing a good news message.
As it turned out, the first converts to this gospel message happened to by my neighbors, Curly and Laura Butner. Curly cussed like a sailor that only after a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit was that habit curbed. With their lives changed, Curly & Laura began reaching out to their neighbors—my family. It was Curly and Laura who brought me the children’s bible story book.
My life was changed not merely because of a children’s bible story book. It was changed because of a family, Joe and Ruth Collier, who left their comfort zone to start a church in a next-to-nothing community that few would have vision for. They faithfully knocked on doors and their first converts were my neighbors.
I was part of a bigger narrative. In truth, we are always part of bigger narrative. Our story is never just about ourselves. There have always been events, actions, and people who intersect with our story. Our challenge is to see the larger narrative.
What’s your larger narrative?
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Published December 22, 2016
Topics: A Life of Faith