What Story Will This New Year Tell?
By Leslie Vernick
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and hated the ending? A story where the bad guy won and outsmarted the good guy? Or the person who was supposed to grow and become the hero, gave up, or went back home defeated and discouraged?
That almost happened in the movie Ground Hog Day.
Bill Murray’s character woke up to the same day over and over again. At first, he thought this was great. I can eat what I want, drink as much as I want and have all the women I want with no consequences.
But as he lived his life day after day, he began to hate the shallowness and self-centeredness of his own life story. It was boring. It was deforming. He needed to change and, had he not, the ending of the movie would have been disappointing.
In contrast, people loved the movie Frozen, the Disney film about two sisters. One who lived from her virtues of kindness and sacrificial love. The other who lived out of her feelings of insecurity and anger. Had Anna stayed dead and Elsa frozen, the movie would have flopped and there would have been no sequel. But that’s not how it ended. Anna lived and Elsa was freed from her anger.
But Hollywood isn’t the best story teller, God is.
In the Biblical narrative of Joseph, I wonder how different the story would have ended if Joseph became angry or bitter after his brother’s sold him into slavery and Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of sexual abuse? (See Genesis 37-47)
Or what if Queen Esther had cowered in fear and stayed passive because of Haman’s evil plot to kill the Jews? What if she was just too afraid to go into the King, or thought her place as a good wife was to stay silent and submit to her husband’s decisions? (See the book of Esther)
Esther’s story would have changed for sure, but like Joseph’s story, Esther’s story impacted so many other people’s story. As does yours.
As you enter into this New Year of 2020, this new decade in history, let me ask you a question? How’s your personal story going?
Maybe you don’t recognize that God has given you an opportunity to co-partner with Him in writing your story within HIS larger story. Like Joseph and Esther, Abigail, Daniel, Moses, Deborah, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. These were real people, facing real life challenges and struggles, just like you and me.
God allowed some of them to be in horrible life circumstances, but they still recognized that they had choices about how they were going to live out those circumstances. And their choices made all the difference in how their story played out. History bears witness to their impact on future generations.
Sometimes when you or I are in the midst of difficult or unfair life circumstances, we lose our way. We abdicate our personal power and allow the situation to decide the ending of our story. Instead of allowing God to build the virtues he wants us to develop to accomplish his purposes. we let life circumstances and our emotions determine the outcome of our story (See 2 Peter 1:3-10).
During this past Christmas, I thought of Joseph, Mary’s fiancé. Joseph had a choice on how his own story would play out when he found Mary was pregnant. He chose to act virtuously even though he must have felt confused, even betrayed. He didn’t understand everything about what was going on. Yet he embraced his situation by faith and cooperated with God. That mindset gave him the strength to write his part of the story differently than he would have had he written it out of his painful or perplexed feelings.
You too can create a different ending to your life story.
Rely on God’s love for you. He may have allowed tough circumstances in your life. Situations that you would never volunteer for. Understand, he always has a bigger purpose than you can see right now.
Embrace God’s sovereignty and cooperate with his plan to mature you through it. Doing so will empower you to write a new chapter to your life story in 2020.
Like Joseph, Esther, Joseph, and myriads of other Biblical characters, will you decide to trust God and embrace that you have a choice on how you write your part of the story? You don’t always get to change the setting or the other characters, but you have a huge role in how you live out your part within that setting.
Don’t let another year go by allowing your life story to be written by default. Instead decide. How do you want to live your precious life, even in the midst of hard?