Zechariah 4:10 opens, saying, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”. Another way it could be stated (in light of our stories) is, “The Lord rejoices to see the “story” begin”. I think most of us desire a life that makes “the Lord rejoice”. Thankfully, Zechariah gives us a clear way of doing that, however, I think you would agree (with almost any endeavor) that getting started is, often times, the hardest part. So, that’s what we’ve zeroed in on with our discussion – what it takes for our stories to begin. As the motivating stimulus, we’ve provided answers from the scary, yet, very sobering truth that every story has a beginning, but not every story begins.
Choosing to face the fear and fact of that reality rather than run from it or ignore it, we’ve challenged ourselves with three “musts” for setting the God-scripted narratives of our lives in motion. Our stories must have 3 components:
- OUR AUTHORIZATION
- OUR PARTICIPATION
- OUR EVASION
With our authorization, we proved how the power of commencement lies within our commitment. With our participation, we showed how it lies within our involvement. Finally, with our evasion, we will explore the inaugurating power within our disengagement.
When I first came to Christ at 19 years old (over 16 years ago), like so many, I was excited about the potential of a “new story” and became ravenously hungry to see it tangibly demonstrated in and through all areas of my life. My internal yearning quickly turned into external searching and I found myself devouring scripture, spending lots of time in prayer, giving sacrificially, serving at events, seeking advice/answers from the elders, and offering many admirable, yet, unsuccessful attempts at fasting (I don’t suggest trying to go 40 days while you’re learning. YIKES!). In doing all of this, evidence of my “new life” (story) emerged, but, it came at a painfully slow rate, in frustratingly minimal increments, and simply would not last. All of which led me to another question: Why can’t I sustain the “new story”?
After I finally stopped beating myself up, it became apparent that authorization and participation, in and of themselves, weren’t enough. They carried the capacity to create momentum for my story to emerge, but they couldn’t sustain it.
Creating AND sustaining God’s narrative required the final addition of a critically vital piece: Evasion.
Evasion deals directly with our surroundings and environments. It simply means disconnecting from the people, places, and things (or, more specifically, their thoughts, opinions, and attitudes) that have kept them from stepping into their own scripts and is currently keeping us from stepping into ours.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Oh no, another environment talk”. And, you’d be right, but, before you cut me off and stop reading, consider this: You start living the story of “you” when you stop living the story of “they”.
The truth is you’re already living a story: the question is whose story is it?
Ashamedly, I have to confess that I have lived the story of “they” for the greater part of my life. In fact, “they” have controlled everything about me (my values, my beliefs, my self-perception) for way longer than I like to admit. The vast majority of my existence has been dedicated to the pursuit of trying to live up to who “they” said I should be or to who I thought “they” wanted me to be.
“They” come in all shapes and sizes. And, so do their stories. Sometimes we know who “they” are. A father, like mine who walks out on his family leaving them with the story that “you are not important or wanted”. A teacher that tells his or her student,“you’re not smart enough to be in this class”. A coach who says, “You’re not good enough to play on that level”. A cheating spouse who blames you for their actions saying,“You’re not fulfilling enough”. A pastor who says,“You’re full of the devil and if you keeping doing what you’re doing, God is going to take everything from you.”
Other times, we have no idea who “they” are. “They” are nobody – just a set of ideologies that have been passed on from one person to the next until their story of limitation has reached you and me. Their former name has long been forgotten and replaced by the new name of “they”. I know you are well aware of this group as we’ve all heard the ever-so dangerous preceding setup of “you know what ‘they’ say”, followed by a usually negative account.
It’s insane really – how easy it is to be influenced by and remember the story of easily forgettable people.
Yet, we still find ourselves being daily bombarded by and submitting to their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. We can’t deny their stories can sound convincing, especially, when spoken with the level of conviction and passion they are usually spoken with. However, “they” are never a good place to attach our identity or anchor the hope of our scripts because the ideas of “they” will always be inferior to the ideas of Him. Even so, this is the tension we find ourselves in. The tug-o-war of stories: the story of “they” versus the story of Him. The report of a qualified expert concerning your health versus the more qualified report of God. The opinions about your reputation from those who knew you before Christ versus the truth of the word about your reputation since accepting Him. The story of an earthly father’s abandonment versus the story of a heavenly Father’s acceptance.
The truth is there will never be a moment in our lives where a story is not presenting itself. The one we choose to lean into is the one we will live and become. With that, I ask you, “Whose report will you believe?” And, I remind you, you start living the story of “You” when you stop living the story of “they”.
What is YOUR story?