We watched this video presentation a couple of days ago at work. Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian novelist, tells how the first books she loved to read were about British schoolchildren with blue eyes playing in the snow and enjoying ginger beer, and then tells how when she went to the US to study, her roommate assumed she wouldn't know how to use a stove because all she'd heard about Africa was the story of famine and poverty. She says just knowing one single story about another country or another people is a great weakness.
I wonder if in church we aren't guilty of presenting a single story. The story that we've all arrived, we're all OK now. The story that God has solved all our major problems because we're mature Christians.
But Scripture celebrates people who reached the end of their lives believing God would do something, but hadn't yet seen it:
Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, Hebrews 11:36-39Scripture tells the story of Peter, who one terrible day asserts that he'd never known Jesus, but then Jesus forgives him, not just forgives him but restores him to leadership. Or the story of John, who before writing inspiring verses that God is love, wanted to call down fire from heaven on people who didn't want to listen. Luke 9:54.
So let's present all the stories God tells in our lives. The stories that even now we may struggle, wonder what God is doing, but don't go away because there is nowhere else to go. The stories how we have not arrived yet, but we're still traveling in hope, trusting that God will do great things even when we don't know when he'll do them.