It All Started With Something
"You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift." - Erin Morgenstern
Everyone's story starts somewhere. I'm talking about the moment where something in your life changed and sparked something deep down inside that you didn't even know was there. It may have been brought about by a song or movie, some occurrence in your life, or even a person. For one of my favorite historic people, his story all started with a mouse and a dream. Then, a new story started for him while he was sitting on a park bench in California watching his daughters ride the merry go round. If you know me, you know that I am referring to Walt Disney. The mouse brought on movies and television shows; but that moment on the bench turned into a massive world of theme parks. You guessed it, Disneyland.
I just returned from Disneyland in Anaheim, California. This was a college graduation gift as well as a mark off of my bucket list. The entire vacation and experiences I had will stay with me forever. To be able to walk around the first Disney park where Walt himself stood and interacted with park guests was truly magical. I rode all the rides, ate all the food (way too much), smiled until my cheeks hurt, laughed until I cried and totally acted like I was a 5 year old girl again because, let's be honest, it's Disneyland and it's socially acceptable there. Like all vacations there were the ups and downs including having our seats change and having to sit in the emergency exit aisle (thanks Dad!) but then being able to enjoy my first class flight (also, thanks Dad!), having half the park be closed on our first day there but also finding a free Fastpass and money on the ground (aka I won the Disney lottery), and also having some strange communication occurrences (gotta love social media) while also being able to see and spend a whole day with my cousin. My trip to California was one for the books for sure. I was walking right down the middle of Main Street U.S.A. (I bet you sang that) and we stopped into one of the shops where they had the actual bench Walt sat on and dreamed up Disneyland. It made me start to think and really take in my surroundings. Looking around I began to think about how all of this, and the entire Disney empire, all began with a mouse, a bench, and a dream. This was where his story began.
Now, I'm not saying that your story is going to look like Walt's. Mainly because, that's not exactly the type of story I'm referring to. I'm talking about the story in which you met Jesus and accepted Him into your heart. Some of you reading may not have ever truly experienced this or may even ever want to experience it. You may not even know what I'm talking about. I encourage you, however, to keep reading and hear me out because whether you know it or not, YOU have a story too.
It all started with something...but where?
My story looks a little like this...
I grew up in a home where I went to church on Sunday morning, youth group on Sunday nights and participated in all the different activities in church (acolyte, handbells, choir, etc.). I knew I believed in God because I didn't know any different. I knew the Bible stories and I prayed over meals and I sat in the pews in my Sunday dresses; I thought that that was the life of a Christian. I got a little bit older and I realized that it wasn't enough; I wanted more of Jesus. There was something about the words from scripture that brought me peace and I wanted to live and learn more about this "Christian thing". I got involved with the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) at my high school my freshman year and really liked it. (Also, they had Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Enough said.) We went to the high school state retreat that spring which was where all the high school FCA huddles in the state would come together for a weekend and learn more about God while also playing sports. When we arrived the first night, it was like a party. There was loud music, people dancing and singing, and everyone was so excited. The speaker that night was, at the time, the University of South Carolina football chaplain, Adrian Despres. He was loud and proud when it came to sharing his story and about how He let Jesus take control of his life. He started talking to us and the words were really hitting home and laying on my heart. At the end of his talk, he asked everyone to bow their heads and to pray a prayer. He said if you want to be able to walk into the gates of heaven, you need a personal relationship with Jesus. I prayed that prayer, alongside many others, and I committed my life completely to Jesus that night in April 2009 (YAY!).
I can't tell you that after that night my life was easy and great and happy go lucky because that would be a big, fat lie. I can tell you, however, that after that night, my life has been protected, even in the dark times, because I have a God that is bigger than anything this world can throw my way. I have been through abusive relationships and bullying. I was lied to and rejected. I have been led on and let down...hard. I've been abandoned and humiliated. I suffered loss and aloneness. Through all of that though, my God was right there with me and He is the one who got me through. He traded my abuse for love, my rejection into being accepted, my humiliation into His glorification, my losses for His gains for my life. He wiped my scars and tears away and made me whole. And, here is a beautiful thing, He can do the same thing for you. All you gotta do is surrender and ask...then your story truly has a new beginning, it's what you do with it that writes the story.
Think of it this way, you have your own story that is ultimately a part of God's story. He has a purpose and plan for you and all you have to do is accept the tug at your heart and run with it, with Him. Jesus knows what it is like to live in ridicule and to be mocked and scorned and rejected and abused. He died on a cross and took all of it for us because of one simple reason. He. Loves. Us. The sinners, the liars, the cheaters, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You see, the people that killed Jesus hated him because He was different and because he professed to be the Son of God, the Messiah. They wanted to put a stop to Jesus and His teachings so, they decided to kill Him. They thought that death would be the end of Him and that He would be forgotten. Little did they know that three days later Jesus would overcome the grave. Don't let the people that put you down, lie to you, abandon you, hurt you, curse you, reject you, or any other evil doings defeat you. Defeat them by allowing for their hatred turn into you leaning and latching on to God and His word more and more. Defeat them by allowing God to pull you out of those circumstance and to use it for His glory. Allow for Him to use your hurt to fuel your testimony to share with others just how great of a God you have. Rise from the grave and defend your story with the glory and power of God.
Your story will be nothing close to mundane. God starts works in your life and He finishes all of them. You wouldn't start your favorite movie and then walk away and not watch it, right? Well, God isn't going to begin something great in your life just to walk away and abandon you. So, keep walking and let the good works come to you. Don't force them, don't try and take control over them and make them happen; let go and let God. Trust me, the works are going to come. The delay in goodness is intentional; He wants to see that we are totally trusting in Him and waiting on His perfect timing.
Your story, like all stories, has a beginning, middle and will have an end. It is also going to have many chapters that build off of one another. Your story will have excitement, adventure, heartache, and love. Your story will be different from everyone else; it is unique to you. For all you visual people, here is another comparison to keep things in perspective. Your life marathon starts at a symbolic starting line; think of that as the introduction to your story. Along this marathon of life there are mile markers (new chapters), obstacles (gotta have some drama in a good story), joyous moments (again, all good stories have them), and plenty of people running too (your characters, if you will). You learn things along the run and you grow stronger and gain different things in your life. However, people that are running with you, or reading your story, watch you and learn from your race, or from your story. You see, we weren't meant to do any of this alone. With God always by our sides, there is no way we could lose.
You may think that your story isn't important to share or that it means anything to anyone; that used to be me. I'm here to tell you that that is nothing more than a lie straight from the Devil's mouth because he wants to prevent you from sharing the good news and the truth. Luke 8:39 says, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." You never know what your story may do for the person next to you. I encourage you to be bold and share your story. Some of you know your story inside and out while some of you may not have even begun to write your story, but you have one.
For those of you who have started your story on your walk with Jesus, how did your story start and how are you still writing it?
For those of you who haven't started your story yet, where and when will it begin? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain so, what are you waiting for?
Here's the real question and challenge...
Which story do you want to tell? One of misery and brokenness or one of overcoming and being resurrected from your old life? Better yet...
Which story would you prefer to hear?
A story is worth a thousand words, but your story could touch a thousand lives.