When you look at your life, what do you see? How do you make sense of the world around you? How is your story similar to or unique from the stories of others? Do you tend to compare yourself to others? Do you tend to blame others or yourself when you don’t get what you think you deserve?

We approach the questions of life with certain presuppositions—filters through which we evaluate and categorize our world in an attempt to bring clarity, order, and understanding. The lens through which we choose to look determines how we process and how we respond to our world.

How you answer these and other questions is directly related to your lens. Even as followers of Christ, we often don’t view life through the lens of GOD’S STORY. This panoramic BIG PICTURE lens reveals God’s pursuit of our redemption as well as his pursuit of cosmic redemption.

You may be familiar with an understanding of the Bible referred to as the progress of redemption, or the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan. In this understanding, the progress of redemption is revealed in four acts: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. As we study the bible further, we recognize this overarching view or the meta-narrative of the bible all through scripture. And we also see this redemptive theme played out in the smaller stories of the Bible as well.

But consider this – Do you also see that same theme played out in your personal life?

When we view our life through this lens, we begin to catch a glimpse of what God may have intended for us as well. When we see a cosmic purpose and how we are part of that purpose, our lives begin to make sense. We hold out hope for the broken and as yet unredeemed pieces of our lives as well as for the lives of others.

Think of the mini-stories of your own life that form your larger story. While the circumstances and facts of your story remain the same, viewing your life through this lens enables you to see your story from a different vantage point.

Re-Membering Our Stories

Adding a hyphen to the word ‘remember’ gives us a different action than merely recalling something that happened. We see that a “member,” a part of us, has been cut off or separated. The opposite of re-member would be to dis-member, which is often what we do with our stories. Fear, shame, and pain prompt us to cut our stories off from our memory, our lives, and our hearts. To re-member a story is to once again let that story become a part of our lives, our formation, and the story God is writing for us.

Re-Thinking Our Stories

When we say we “re-think” our stories, we don’t mean that everything in our past must be scrutinized and/or doubted and proven. What we mean is that seeing and re-thinking our lives through the grid and lens of the gospel gives our stories new meanings and takes them in new directions. We find rescue we never recognized and hurts we have yet to grieve. But in so doing we also discover a greater hope, a greater purpose, and a greater beauty in the long arc of our story.

Re-Writing Our Stories

It is very helpful as you are re-membering and re-thinking your stories to also be re-writing or writing them for the first time. Writing, as opposed to just thinking, uncovers deeper levels of understanding. To write down significant stories not only reveals God’s rescue in your personal life but serves as a reminder when you’re in a pit of despair that God will rescue you again. This is the essence of hope.

Re-Telling Our Stories

Tell your stories again and again! Let your stories be a way for others to see a living struggling honest person who knows the real God, the one who redeems messed up people like you and me.

Stories of betrayal, stories of rescue, stories of harm, stories of delight—each of our stories are substantial gifts we give to the people in our world. Some relay grief and loss and our deep longing for the way things were created to be. Some will show how we are still waiting for redemption. Still others will point us and the listener to Christ as the hero and rescuer of the story.

Storytelling is a powerful way to instill courage, comfort, and future hope.

Shari Thomas

*Extracted from ‘Beyond Duct Tape – Holding the Heart Together in a Life of Ministry‘ by Shari Thomas & Tami Resch