Stories are very important. Socially, they form the foundation of a nation’s collective identity. In the family, they instill values and traditions. Stories are also important tools for reminding us of where we are, who we are and where we are headed. For us, the Bible is one big book of stories, and these stories remind us of who we really are, where we really came from, where we are really headed, and all because the stories reveal to us what a loving Father we have. So beloved, let me tell you a story.

“The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.” Acts 13:17-19

Once upon a time, God made man. God loved man, and chose one group in particular through which to demonstrate not only His power, but also His love for man. Even though this group of people were not always the best behaved, He still put up with them and blessed them.

“After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’” Acts 13:20-25

With this group of people, God was patient, God was kind. Even though they thought they could do it on their own, God, like a loving Father, gave them what they asked for, yet stayed around and kept faithful watch over His people. When they finally messed up their lives completely, when it reached the point where the situation was beyond man’s own ability to rectify, God sent His own ultimate solution to sort out the problems that man created.

“Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death.” Acts 13:26-28

But man, ignorantly proud of their folly, took God’s solution and nailed Him to the cross. They rejected God’s proposed solution, thinking that they could still go on in alone, not realizing the mess that they had already made.

But God, in His infinite compassion for humanity, took that very act of rejection and turned it into an act of salvation which was effective not only for the ones He originally chose, but for all who would believe.

“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:38-39

So that now,

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

And for many of us, this is not just Israel’s story, this is our own. We were living in our own mess, thinking that we had it all together, trying our best to make things work through our own smarts and our own efforts, all the while not realizing the state in which we were in. We thought that our binge drinking would numb the pain, our long hours in the office and the second jobs we took up, would be enough to put bread on the table. We thought that the life of ‘I don’t know and I don’t care; I only know what is here and now’ will help us deal with the insurmountable stresses of life. Till one day, our castle of cards came crashing down, and we suddenly realized, we need help.

And where was our Father then? Was He far away? I wager He never was. Be it in a book, a friend, a sibling or a television program, He was there, reaching out to you, telling you that He loves you and that it will all be alright. And there and then, for that moment, you believed, and that is why you are here today; because from that day onward, you started to see His faithful hand leading you each and every step of the way, even during the days when you thought you had it all together.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? Whether we are at the peaks of our success or the valleys of our troubles, looking back at the stories that our Father has written into our lives, fills us with not only a sense of joy, but also a sense of comfort, that as it has been, so shall the good times keep rolling on. We start to develop a positive expectation of good, that no matter what the present tells us, we have hope for tomorrow. For just like it was for the couple who were walking along, sad and dejected because Jesus had just died,

“So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.” Luke 24:15

Each and every time you start to see Jesus working in your life, He Himself draws near and does this.

“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27

He reveals even more of His love for you; and it is all written in the scriptures.

And the more we listen, the more we receive, the more we are reminded of just how much we are loved and cared for, do we not experience the same as they?

“And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.” Luke 24:32:25

Were we not energized, were we not filled with joy; so much so that we just had to go and tell someone about it?

Beloved, that is why the Psalmist says,

“I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.” Psalm 119:14

Actually, I wager we rejoice more in His testimonies than in all riches; for His testimonies, His stories, the episodes He wrote into our lives, point to something eternal, something never-ending, something that can never be taken from us, nor can moth destroy.

So beloved, read any stories lately? Pick up your Bible, the best book you can ever spend time on. Then read the stories of love that are written on every page. See how our Father loves you and how much He loves you. Then spend some time in quiet conversation with Him, Let Him pop a few of your life’s movies into the player and watch Him unfold His love in your life.

Stories truly remind us of who we are and where we come from. And our own stories go even further, because they remind us of how much we are loved by our Father. Spend time going through your stories today. Share them too and see for yourself, just why you can smile and know that tomorrow will be an even brighter day.

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