Thursday, April 7, 2016

The stuff of turning points and second chances

Devastating situations can knock the air out of us. Bring us to our knees.

Sometimes we cause our own tragedies, other times we’re innocent victims of someone else’s choices and actions. And sometimes heartbreaks are part of life—like the death of a loved one.

Sometimes we are so broken, so helpless, we can’t do anything but fling ourselves into God’s arms and hold on.

And there, within that place of crisis, we discover that during our most painful times we learn our most important lessons

Sorrows can wrench us out of places we should never have wandered: Anguish can break down our stubbornness and make us willing, finally, to embrace a holy discontent with things that are not right in our lives.

A crisis can force us to get serious about God and His forgiveness and grace—and about our need to forgive and extend grace to others.

Devastation can shake us by the shoulders and convince us that God is worthy of all we are and all we have—that He is Number One.

In that way, our brokenness can lead to our wholeness: Heartbreaks can be the stuff of turning points and second chances. Personal disasters can lead to personal victories.

Some of you have been there. You messed up. Or maybe someone else messed up and left you devastated. Shattered. But you survived. Your  broken self healedby God’s grace. You’re living in a new chapter of your life.

God has given you a new song to sing (Psalm 40:1-3).

He has given you beauty in place of ashes, gladness in place of mourning (Isaiah 61:3).

He has restored places long devastated (Isaiah 61:4).

He has turned your weeping into songs of joy (Psalm 126:5-6).

You need to write your story because
someone needs to hear that you got through your disaster.
Someone needs to know that you are living a new and better life.

Not just that you got a new life—but how you got there.
How did you and God, together, get you to this new place?

Someone, sometime, will read your memoir—someone searching for answers, someone reeling in the midst of his or her own anguish, longing to turn a corner, desperate to receive a second chance, eager to leave the former life behind and make a fresh start. God can use your story to help answer their prayers, give them hope, and someone (you, through your memoir) to walk alongside them toward the other side.

In that way, you—just an ordinary person—can be a “messenger of the Most High.”

“And so we understand that ordinary people are messengers of the Most High,” writes Lawrence Kushner. “They go about their tasks in holy anonymity. Often, even unknown to themselves. Yet, if they had not been there, if they had not said what they said or did what they did, it would not be the way it is now. We would not be the way we are now. Never forget that you, too, may be a messenger. Perhaps even one whose errand extends over several lifetimes.” (Lawrence Kushner, Eyes Remade for Wonder, emphasis mine)

Read those last two sentences again with your memoir in mind: “Never forget that you, too, may be a messenger. Perhaps even one whose errand extends over several lifetimes.”

How can your stories extend over several lifetimes? By putting them in writing, making copies, and making sure your family knows they have copies—on a shelf somewhere, or in a box in the basement. They might not read your memoir in your lifetime, but someday, someone will read it.

Trust God
He has given you a high calling.

Not so much because of who you are,

Commit your stories to Him,
believing He will use them to bless your readers.

“Your struggle to share your struggle changes the world.”

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