Posted by: amylamb | November 17, 2009

Tell Me A Story

What makes a story worth writing?

Everybody has one, and everybody loves one. Even as children, the stories we all knew and loved had a purpose – the moral of the story. As we grow older, the morals in the stories we read grow slightly more abstract and sometimes even subject to interpretation, but there is a purpose within them nonetheless.

That’s why I usually do not read fiction. I refuse to immerse myself into a story solely for the purpose of entertainment because a truly great story evokes change.

The same concept applies to the grand narrative of our lives. I refuse to live solely for the purpose of existing.

I long to become absorbed into something worthwhile daily because my daily life is but the microcosm of the grand narrative of my life.

But we cannot write a story worth reading on our own. We must choose to engage as active participants in the unfolding events of the greatest story ever told – a story that is turning the whole world upside down. We must move forward in radical sacrifice, unprecedented abandon and wholehearted devotion even if nobody else goes with us. We must be willing to break free from the status quo and be radically different. We must be willing to be last to be a part of the only story worth writing.
It is only then that our story gains purpose, potential, and eternal significance.

Therefore, the moral of this story: Is your life, your family, and your church writing a story worth reading?

Now, it’s your turn – tell me your story.

John 21:25

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Responses

  1. Was this invoked by my great facebook status? lol

  2. My story is so amazing…I could not even begin to share it all, God is so good and what he may be asking me to do is both terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. So, yeah. I agree totally.

    • Mm … I don’t think you’re off the hook, Will. I really, really, want to hear your story.

  3. This actually might be good for me. Well, here goes…

    I was born on June 18, 1984 (A long time ago in a place not so far away) and lived the first 14 years of my existence without Christ. I do not remember much from my childhood except having to do a lot of things I hated and being punished when I did not do them. I am well disciplined person because I was disciplined…sometimes very harshly and to the point of abuse. My Father took his job seriously, and he expected my brothers and I to act like sailors. Kids cannot do that; in many ways were not allowed to be kids which is one of the reasons that I see a lot of more childish things coming out in recent months; I am realizing as one friend put it, that I have no inner child.

    I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA. A military/resort community and city of about 500,000 people. We moved about 3-4 times within the city constantly displacing me and leaving me without a friendship that lasted beyond 1-2 years until high school. My dad got out of the navy right as I entered middle school, so my life transited at the worst possible moment. What I have omitted is that my father and mother are both from Mobile County and that they had always desired to return to Alabama. So, when my dad got out of the navy, he got a job with a former family friend in the crawfish industry.

    Well, that did not last long, but while we were down here we lived in Citronelle, AL and in 1995 there was even less in Citronelle than there is now. It was the worst year of my non-Christian life. I was treated horribly as “yankee outsider” (which showed the complete ignorance of these backwoods hicks of geography or accent recognition) and I was constantly tormented and ridiculed…I did not have one friend. My social isolation, which was already bad, became much, much worse.

    While I was in Citronelle I witnessed the beating of an Arab kid. He never did anything to those “Christian” kids. He was always harassed and bullied and even more mercilessly than I was. One day they gathered around him and would not let him get away; when he tried to defend himself, one of these “Christians” hit the boy over the head with a glass bottle. I remember thinking to myself that I never wanted to be like them; I never wanted to pick on the weak for my own self fulfillment.

    We moved a year later and ended our friendship with that friend. We ended up back in Virginia Beach for a year. Mind you, I have not always been a good student. Before I got serious in high school, I was prone to not do homework and spend hours on the computer…it sadly was my world…I had no friends. We were only in Virginia beach for about a year before we moved to Suffolk, which at time sucked because Suffolk reminded me a lot of Citronelle. It was not exactly like that and by the time we left, Suffolk was a nice size suburb of Chesapeake. But it was not a move I was fond.

    Suffolk is where life began to change. I went further and further into myself with a self loathing, with an others loathing…with just a loathing. I would wake up every morning and curse God for giving me such a (insert expletive here) life. Eventually through a series of fortunate events I am almost decided to kill myself (I can identify with those on the edge of life). I was going to do it; but someone (God) held me back; I did not know it at the time, but God saved my life.

    It was also in Suffolk that my family returned to the Church. Now, we had sporadically gone to church throughout my childhood…I hated it (some would say I still hate but even if that were true it would be for entirely different reasons). I did not welcome a return to the fake Christians who had so impacted my life with their hypocrisy. Yet, God had a plan a very twisted, glorious plan. We started attending a church in Suffolk (which will remain nameless to hide their guilt) where we “felt” accepted and ended up being a part of for three years (more on all of that later…you said you wanted that story…). It was here that my battle with the holy God of love began.

    Emmanuel began to knock on my hearts door after hearing the message of the Gospel (proof that God even use corrupted wretches to preach his word) and what before seemed unheard of and simply unthinkable began to slowly sink in. I wish I could say I did a CS Lewis or Josh McDowell and went a grabbed all the books I could on the evidence for the Christian faith. But that was not my problem…I had always believed in God but I had always hated him…I had always blamed him for my problems. I had basically mentally flipped him off every morning.

    And yet, there he was trying to save me…(tears up…haha) I still do not understand. If it had been me I would have destroyed that wretch of what I had become.

    At first I wanted nothing to do with him; it was too little too late. I hated God; I hated my life; I hated my family…I was so filled with hate. Yet, God as he has always been, was patient. For four months I gave my arguments and my protests but slowly my resolve went from, “I will never embrace you and your will for me,” to “I do not want to embrace you and your will for me,” to “I can’t embrace you and your will for me,” to “I want to embrace you and your will for me…but you know what I have done, you know how much I hate you. You could never truly love me as I am.”

    I getting choked up…uh, it took until July 10, 1998 when I was in the car on the way to an operation appointment for my fifth ear surgery, to actually hear God’s voice clearly. Mom was listening to one of those really annoying soul-winning tapes and I was thinking to myself about eternity and about how much I wanted to be forgiven and to forgive, but God never just accept me. He could never just put everything on Jesus, then I had heard the still small voice whisper,

    “Chris, (I went by my middle name at the time) I know who you are. I know what you have done. I know where you have gone. I know all of the thoughts enter and even exit your mind. I know all about you…but Christ, I love you anyway.”

    How can you reject such love? I have never needed to prove God but what I needed was to know that God really did care about me; that he was not just out to hurt me and cause me pain…that he really did love me and that where I had no plan or purpose in life; he could give me everything I have wanted and more.

    I became a believer, follower of Jesus Christ in the car on July 10, 1998. Two years ago I celebrated 10 years and I look forward to the day when I can say that I have lived more of my life in his light than my darkness. I have never forgotten that moment; I have never forgotten that struggle and what it was like to be broken, alone, and without hope…that when I could never have cared to find him, he found me.

    And we all live happily ever after, right?

    Sadly, life is not a Disney movie or a Thomas Kinkade painting. It rarely turns out like “Fireproof,” where everything is corrected and we all live in bliss for the rest of our lives. When Jesus says, “The way is narrow, and the gate is small that leads to eternal life,” and “if any will come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me,” he is not using poetic language.

    Life was not about to get easier; it was about to get much harder. During the next three years of high school the church I was attending steadily increased in prominence and standing in the community. There were warning signs…there were plenty of indicators…but we ignored them all, at least until it was too late. During this time my parents had a marital crisis and I nearly left home. During this time the pastor of this church began to think of himself as Moses leading a people to the Promised Land (ie building a center with his name on it). We soon discovered that the genuine community that we had become a part of was nothing more than idolatrous, pastor-worshiping “cult.” We tried to save him, we tried to tell him that his pride would hurt him, his ministry, and the church…he used everything he know about us against us. The people he surrounded him worshiped to the point of letting him drive right off the proverbial cliff.

    He drove my family and 12 other families first. Then it took a year before he feel from the golden altar that they had all put him on. He used the churches money for personal purchases (we are talking furniture pieces), he moved around designated funds (fraud for a non-profit to do), he was involved in illicit pornography on the churches money and time, and he was having an affair with the Choir directors wife; choir director thought he was the closest thing to God he had ever seen.

    It was horrible. When thought about going back we were invited to talk to the board of deacons. You see my mother had known about most things because she worked in the office and she had seen the documents just laying out (we think that the husband of one the preacher’s daughters decided his conscience was bothering him too much and he began to “forget” to put things up) Anyway, my mother told them to look into all of that (they only knew about the affair) and we were told, “How dare we come in there, OUTSIDERS, and tell them what they should do in their time of “mourning.”

    We never went back. Now that church has a pastor who is legalist and is in continual decline; he even brought his own son before the church, God help them.

    That was painful enough, but the next church we went to was not much better, mostly because a lot of the refugees from the other church (including the pastors family) followed us after the collapse. We watched the pastor of that church refuse to split the church to demanding his way. The church was involved with little things that we causing shame to the Body of Christ; it was only a matter of time before it too would be corrupted. I was never accepted there and even though God kept me believing, it was not because of them. That same pastor refused to take a pay cut voluntarily when the church was having budget issues…yet, he wanted the church to give sacrificially.

    I cannot stand stuff like that.

    I left Baptist completely for awhile in favor of a more Reformed stance. I considered becoming PCA (Presbyterian Conservative) for awhile and even attended a decent Presbyterian church in Suffolk for awhile because I needed somewhere to go where I would not be in the church building every time the doors open. Turns out, that we would not be in Suffolk for too much longer.

    I attempted to go to Liberty debt free. That never happened. After that, I simply went into a depression and life seemed to come to a halt. I was questioning everything at that point; I had come through so much pain. Yet, at the same time I was also seeing God move in my life in small but increasingly noticeable ways. I was called (I thought…do you really want this whole story? haha) to ministry when I was 15. I did not preach my first sermon till last year (I have not done so since) Well, I worked at different jobs and took what was the equivalent of a NT survey. After a while though, I wanted to see life move forward so I want to community college for a year to begin making progress in life.

    After a year my parents could no longer pay out of pocket for school, so I had to make a decision…it was time to go off to college. I considered three schools Liberty University (3 1/2 hours from my house at the time), Carson-Newman in Tennessee, and the University of Mobile. Let us just say that UM was the last one on the list. I had seen Liberty and liked the idea of getting lost in a big school; but at the same time I was not fond of Independent Baptist or Jerry Falwell who was the mentor of my former pastor. So, after prayer I decided not to get my degree from Liberty. I was beginning to consider Carson-Newman (which turns out would have been a bad choice) when God distinctly told me to come to UM. Mind you I had never seen UM and had no desire to return to the land of the hicks and rednecks.

    God sent me here. I hated it; the first month I was here I hated it. I hate a lot of things about the South (ignorance, racism, conservatism (not at the time), chauvinism, hospitality that is really formality and not actual good will) and I was not happy that God brought me back here. Yes, I am not exactly a Yankee, but I am definitely not a “good ole boy” and I do think about things other than football, trucks, girls, and hunting.

    I was in hell.

    I soon found out though that UM (for all of its many many faults) has a diversity of people and has enough intelligent souls to be able to live happily and contentedly for four years. This, since my first semester, has been my home. I do not know what I will do when I have to leave it all…again. I know that I have not been the school’s best friend (I am never anyone with power’s best friend, I have a strong sense of justice and fairness and when people and power do not exhibit this then I question them) Sadly, I am scared to death face to face confrontation so I have resorted to e-mails, facebook notes, or blogs…but you have to understand, my last face to face confrontation destroyed that person…I still wonder if there was more I could have done to help.

    Even if I have always been in conflict with the administration, even if I have rarely had a stable church home in four years, even if I have had relationships I wish I had not, even though I have been afflicted with a mysterious disorder since the beginning of my Sophomore year; UM has meant so much to me as a person. I have met some people here that I will never forget.

    My life had turned upside down many, many times since coming here. I have had the privilege of leading a group of wonderful people to New Orleans and seeing the beginning of what I hope will be a lasting effort. I have become friends with people who have supported me, challenged me, and who simply cannot see how I see. I have gone from being called to vocational ministry to no longer believing in the institutional church, which leaves me with the dilemma of what God wants me to do instead of being a vocational pastor. I miss a lot of the people I knew when I first came here. I will miss a lot of the people I know now. Some, I will not see again until I see them anew in the kingdom of God. I still do not have a car…that is my fault. I do not have a marriage prospect…that is God’s fault in a good way. I do not know what is next…I am scared and excited all at the same time.

    Did you finish reading? If so, kudos to you Amy. 😉


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