The Rest of the Story

 

 
Have you even been in the middle of a good book?  The characters are captivating, the dialog is snappy, the plot is as thick as ever.  It’s so good it’s tough to put it down.  But, of course, life calls and you must insert your bookmark and turn your attention elsewhere.  Finally, at the end of a long day you decide to finish up the chapter you’ve been working on.  You head to your favorite chair in the living room right next to your reading table.  Confusingly enough, the book is not there.  You are not sure where you left it.  You check the bedroom, the kitchen counter, even the backseat of the car.  Still nowhere to be found. 
 
Your book is gone.  You were smack dab in the middle and now your book is gone.  As much as you would love to finish the story, you are now unable.  You feel frustrated and uncomfortable leaving something so great incomplete.
 
What if we were to look at our faith life as a book? How far along in the story are you?  Do you find it to be riveting or does the story of your faith put you to sleep?  How often do you put time into reading?  How much do you look forward to getting through another chapter?
 
God is writing his story upon our lives.  But what he has written we need to read and engage with and make a part of our lives.  For so many Christians, faith is an intellectual decision to believe in Jesus.  Our conversion becomes the end of our journey.  The truth is, once we are saved and trust in Jesus as our Savior, we are only halfway through the book!  God is inviting us to live into the rest of the story. 
The famous researcher and church consultant, George Barna, has broken down the faith life of a Christian into what he calls “10 Transformational Stops”.  I think however it might be helpful to consider these “stops” as chapters in the story God is writing.  The contents page of such a book might read as follows:
 
Chapter 1: Unaware of Sin
 
Chapter 2: Indifferent to Sin
 
Chapter 3: Worried About Sin
 
Chapter 4: Forgiven for Sin
 
Chapter 5: Forgiven and Active in a Church
 
Chapter 6: Holy Discontent
 
Chapter 7: Broken by God
 
Chapter 8: Surrender and Submission to God
 
Chapter 9: Profound Love of God
 
Chapter 10: Profound Love of People
 
In Barna’s research, he found that 89% of people find themselves somewhere within the first half of the story (between chapters 1-5), with nearly 40% stuck in chapter 3.  This means that only 11% of all people progress beyond chapter 5.  In fact, both chapters 9 and 10 each only claim .5% of people involved in the study. 
 
The tragedy is that people are content with leaving their story of faith unread.  People are okay with placing the bookmark in chapter 5 and leaving the rest of the story unexplored.  But God has so much more in store! 
 
Maybe your story has hit a lull and the narrative has slowed a bit.  Maybe some of the characters are getting a little redundant.  Maybe you’ve been tempted to merely skim through some pages.  When this happens, there is only one thing to do: Trust God! He is the Author of authors!  He will not disappoint.  He has a wonderful turn of events in store for you.  Exciting adventure and cliffhanging action, bold characters and amazing feats.  But these become reality only after we have entered into “Chapter 6: Holy Discontent”.  We cannot settle for the halfway point.  God is calling us to move forward, to strive for more than the status quo, to turn the page and read the rest of the story. 
 
Profound love for God and people is the logical conclusion of having a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.  While God is working to bring us all to that same end, we must play our part as well.  We need to take time to read scripture, to pray, to engage our faith.  God is writing a glorious epic on the pages of your heart; what a shame to leave it sitting on the end table. May we be frustrated and uncomfortable leaving something so great incomplete.
 

God’s goal is for us to become mature adults – to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.”

Ephesians 4:13b