Have you ever wondered how your story would read if it was written into the Bible? How would it start? How would it end? What would be some of the highlights?
Would your life-story be glossed-over like many in the early chapters of Genesis and Matthew/Luke, where only a “X begat Y and lived Z years and died” verse was written? Would you even want your story to be mentioned? Would you want others to just be given the highlights, or would you want your life to be described in glorious — or humiliating — detail?
Would you want only the good parts of your life to be told, like when you were extra courageous, kind, generous, and sacrificial? Of course, all of us want to be known for those acts of nobility! But what about the bad, ugly stuff, like when you really screwed up and blew it? What about those moments that you don’t want ANYONE to know about, those moments that would ruin your entire reputation? We all have plenty of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and our life-story is comprised of a mixture of all three — hopefully more good than bad (and ugly)!
For a moment, consider several of the people mentioned in the Bible, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Billions of people across the world have heard of these individuals and their basic stories, but each one had their particular failings and stumblings. One unique characteristic of the Bible when compared to ancient literature (particularly mythology) is that it doesn’t whitewash it’s “heroes” of the faith — no one is perfect (except Jesus) and the Word of God makes sure that we don’t idolize them. God tells it like it is (and was) and portrays each character in all their humanity.
Noah was the only one found to be faithful in the years leading up to the Flood among the millions of people living on the earth (some estimates indicate there may have been billions). Imagine that — he was the ONLY faithful person left in all the earth! And though he was God’s instrument in preserving a remnant of the animal kingdom and his family in the ark, his bout of drunkenness and rash curse (while nursing a hangover) upon his grandson Canaan has been meticulously recorded into the annals of Biblical history.
Abraham, the “father of faith” and “friend of God”, struggled with fear and telling half-truths, “white-lies”. Though he is best remembered for leaving his homeland of Ur of the Chaldeans and nearly sacrificing his son Isaac at Mount Moriah, he lied several times to save his own skin — and at the expense of his beloved wife Sarah! Though he fully believed in the LORD of the universe, he still trembled before powerful men.
Moses, the great liberator of the children of Israel, murdered an Egyptian and fled into hiding for forty years. When God finally called him to active service from the midst of the burning bush, he made excuses for why he wasn’t God’s “man of the hour” and tried to get himself excused from duty because of a speech impediment.
And then there’s David, the “man after God’s own heart” who had a weakness for women and sex, the proverbial “chink in his armor.” Next to killing the giant Goliath with a stone, David is known for committing adultery with the wife of one of his most loyal mighty-men and then having him murdered in battle. Though he was very decisive and won victory after victory on the battlefield, he proved to be passive and indecisive in his own household. Because of his sin (along with being polygamous), his daughter was raped by her half-brother who was then murdered by her brother, who then seized the kingdom from his father before being murdered by David’s chief of staff!
Would any of these great men have stumbled as badly as they did if they would’ve thought for a moment that their failures were being “recorded” for their posterity, along with the rest of the world? Would they have sinned as they did if they would’ve known that their deeds would be read, studied, and taught to millions of people over thousands of years and written into the very Word of God? Knowing as much as we do about these people of faith, I believe they would’ve lived much more carefully!
An interesting exercise is to sit down and write your own personal “Bible story” sometime, both what’s it been AND how you would like it to be. How would it begin? What would you want others to know about your life — and what would you want to have left out? More importantly, how would you want it to end? Would we really want it to say, “He worked hard and made a lot of money, retired early, and lived the rest of his life in ease, wealth and health?” While that may sound wonderful on the surface, doesn’t it seem rather selfish and shallow in comparison to the others?
For me, I think I would want my story to be kept rather brief, though maybe a little bit more than “Chris begat … and then died.” If my story was written into the Bible, I would want it to read more or less like Enoch’s story, with one phrase in particular being mentioned: “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24). Of all the people mentioned in the Bible, only two are described as walking with God: Enoch and Noah, though I imagine that Daniel, Ezekiel, and several others could be as well.
Next, how do you think the Author of the Bible would write your story? What do you think God would say about you? Would He describe you as a man or woman after His own heart? Would He say that you walked with Him and finished the marathon of faith well? Would He describe you was being kind, generous, compassionate, sacrificial, and loving? (Ouch — the shoe’s pinching a little tight for me right now!)
One self-evaluation of faith and love we can (and probably should) do on a regular basis is to put ourselves in the middle of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. When you substitute your own name in place of “love” how does it read? Here’s mine, and it doesn’t read nearly the way I wish it did! If it was on a report-card, I’d get a big red fat “F”!
Chris suffers long and is kind. Chris does not envy. Chris does not parade himself. Chris is not puffed up. Chris does not behave rudely. Chris does not seek his own. Chris is not easily provoked. Chris thinks no evil. Chris does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Chris bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Chris never fails.
But the good news is that Jesus is ALL of those things and much, much more! Look at how His reads: Jesus suffers long and is kind. Jesus does not envy. Jesus does not parade himself. Jesus is not puffed up. Jesus does not behave rudely. Jesus does not seek his own. Jesus is not easily provoked. Jesus thinks no evil. Jesus does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never fails.
When we step onto the Road of Righteousness with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David and follow after Christ, we start walking with Him as Enoch and Daniel did. Jesus is committed to conforming us to Himself and remaking us from the inside out after the Holy Spirit comes to indwell our hearts. As we yield to Him and adopt His ways, we become more like Him. As we walk with Him, our story with all its faults fades and His story shines through us.
Yes, the road will be long, winding, and extremely difficult at times. The Savior we follow was known as a “man of sorrows” and “familiar with suffering”; if we are to become like him, shouldn’t we should expect likewise for ourselves? But regardless of what may befall us, He is committed to bringing us to our final destination: Home.
Every one of us has a story that will be written in the Annals of History someday. Every one of us will either have our names found written in the Book of Life or we won’t. When my story is written, I want it to read like His. I want it to be brief yet profound like Enoch’s. I want to be known for one who walked with God and was found to be faithful and was taken into the Kingdom.
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” — Hebrews 11:5-6