Friday, July 25, 2014

Re-write Your Story

Last Friday after my post I had a conversation with my friend Billy. Maybe I shouldn’t use his real name so I’ll call him Bob.

Anyway, the Rev (who isn't one, but is called that) and I were discussing the accolades of people and their rise to fame.  Well, it was mostly our non-famous status that we joked about for a bit.
The conversation began with me thanking him for the Facebook like, but I didn’t know it was him. Once I realized who it was the conversation went like this with me responding:
“I’d like your FB page, but pages can’t like sites … People want to be liked back … My hubby set mine up as a “celeb”…”
He wrote back: “I found that out when I tried to like your page from my page. Can I tell everyone I know a celebrity?  That makes two - you and Richard Petty …”
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New on DFB – Iloilo City, Philippines; Estonia; Guatemala; Belgium; Romania; Turkey; Oman; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; Uganda; Kenya; Ecuador; Slovenia; Lebanon; Taiwan, South Korea; Malaysia and Cyprus.
USA   Turnersville, Gibbstown, Gloucester, Williamstown, Clayton, Margate City, Morganville, Pittsgrove Twsp., New Jersey; Vancouver, WA; Chestnut Hill, MA and Maidsville, WV.
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You have to understand that my friend is a comedian, so the conversation had to meet his standards.  I played into the flattery and continued jesting.
“If you feel you must.  I guess the news will be out soon anyway. LOL  I’m rather famous … famous for getting in trouble with him (hubby).”
Miss you "Chick"
From there I paraded a list of people that have crossed my path during my life, finishing with having a short street named after me that’s about the length of a driveway.
“Beats anything I got. LOL the cashier at the grocery store once let me in the express lane when I was 3 items over the limit.  That’s about it for my exciting experiences.” Bob went on to share.
On and on we went until somehow it progressed into sharing the famous people we met and a few minutes later I finished the conversation.
“I’m piggy backing on my family (meaning the list of celebs they know). My only fame is having lunch with a bunch of teacher’s at the governor’s and throwing out the ball at the Phillies stadium.  Davy Jones was in a play at my college and he did hug me.  Hey, this one is mine, I taught former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s grandson Charlie.”
It wasn’t until later that night I thought about our exchange and it brought me back to something that happened in my beginning years of teaching.  It was something a student said to me that changed my life.
The Pudding Episode
Lunch period was over and the students were making their way back to the classrooms on the second floor of the building.  Passing by my door two ninth graders from my Civics class came in to visit. I was sitting at my desk eating one of those snack puddings. 
“Can I have some?” Shelley asked.  I handed her the container and scooping a bit she took a bite then handed it back to me.
“You can have it.” I said.  That’s when Rae chimed in, “You don’t want to eat it because she ate off it.”  She went on and on not letting the subject drop.
Even though I explained to her that I really didn’t want any more and was full, she didn’t believe me.  I don’t think Shelley cared at all, because she finished the chocolate pudding.
That conversation has been in my spirit ever since. Not because of her comment about me not eating off Shelley, but that it might be the only thing she remembered about me.  I can’t tell you how much that bothered me.  In reality, I didn’t want my legacy to become history, but instead my history to become a legacy.
I can prove my point. Take a minute and think about your teachers.  Note that these are the people who shape lives and mold individuals to be what they are meant to be.
What one thing really sticks out in your thoughts about them?  Can you even remember their names?  There are probably a few of you who can, but for the most part unless that teacher is amazing you won’t remember them.  Their legacy was short lived in your life.
I think about the thousands of kids I’ve taught and have heard through the grapevine of their raving over other teachers they thought were their mentors.  Was my name ever mentioned?
With every child I encountered I was writing my story and it was like a play list of what each student would remember about me.  I didn’t want my “fifteen minutes of fame" as a teacher in Shelley’s life to go down as “the pudding lady episode.”

The One Thing
Over the years that followed that incident it has always been in the forefront of my thoughts whenever I meet people. What will I remember about this person?  Even more daunting, what will they remember about me?
There’s a lady that was very much a part of my past, but now all I can remember learning from her is that she washes her hair brush every time she showers.  Since the time she shared that tidbit I’ve done the same thing. 
A man I’ve known all his life showed me how to remove a label off a bottle by peeling it slowly. I think of that person every time I take off a label, but I couldn’t tell you anything else he said or taught me that stuck.  How sad is that?
What is the one thing that people will remember about you?  Will it be something silly or is your story one that will live on beyond you?
Gone Fishing
The conversation with Bob prayed on my mind, so I went fishing for answers. I began asking people to tell me what they thought when they heard my name.  This time it had nothing to do with flattery or fame.
The answers returned in two ways:
they shared a characteristic or my occupation.  All the answers were nice; maybe the bait was too sweet in the process of my seeking.
The one thing I wanted to hear didn’t pass my ears. No one said anything about me being a Christian.  They were “Christ like” characteristics, but not that I was Christ’s. What story have I been invisibly writing about myself that others are visibly reading?
What’s the first thing or word that comes to your mind when I say these names?  Michael Tait … Michael Jordan … Michael Jones (OK, I don’t know one either but there are over 50 on the web.) Michael Drosnin … Michael Douglas.
All these men are in different walks of life, but I can almost guarantee the first thing that came to your thinking is their careers, not who they are really but what they do/did in life. 
It doesn’t matter how famous they are, because their gifts came from God.  What does matter is the gift they gave to God in living for His glory.  Their stories are great, but will be short lived if not written on the heart of God. 
Who Took the Bait?
When I started writing this lesson I remembered a conversation Jesus had with the apostle Peter.
It was after the disciples had been in town amongst a crowd of unbelievers when Jesus posed this question to them. He asked, “Who do they say I Am?”
A simple question, nothing too deep for thought right? Let’s read the rest of the dialog between the men.
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, (He was doing a little fishing of His own) saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, Am?” 
They got hooked when they didn’t notice Jesus paused between saying “I” and the word “Am”.  He was giving them a clue …
I can picture this. Several of the boys answered.  So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Jesus wasn't looking for those answers, so He put out more bait to get them off the hook.
“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Seems they got tangled on the line when the Lord was trying to reel in an answer. Only one swallowed the bait, but he wasn’t hurt by the Fisherman when he responded.  As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite.
“Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
The Lord was pleased with the answer, because it proved something had been written on Peter’s heart identifying him with Christ.
Jesus answered and said to him (Peter), “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven.”
This is the part that changed Peter’s life story.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19 NKJV)

Who Will They Say You Are?
God can give you a new story for your journey, a fantastic one, if you are open to the writing He wants to do on your heart. When we accept God’s Son Jesus, He has things He wants to accomplish through us just like He did Peter. 
Your story isn't over.  It's being re-WRITTEN.
Wouldn’t you love it if Jesus wanted to establish something as grand as a nation, using you as the catalyst like He did Peter when the church was born?
The story of our life should be the one that God has put in your heart for His plan.  He needs to be the author. 
When Peter agreed to living his life for Jesus, God made His mark on Peter’s heart that identified him as a child of the King.  How important was that decision?  Well let’s see. You won’t read about a pudding lady, a famous athlete, singer or anyone else like that in the Bible.
Peter’s story doesn’t remind us that he was “just” a disciple, but that he was the one and only person God the Father revealed Jesus as “the Christ and Son of God” to before He went to the cross. 
Jesus called Peter “blessed”.  In other words, "Peter, God favored you… because He has your heart!” 
This wasn't mercy or grace (unmerited favor), but individual favor directed toward Peter alone for his journey.  Peter got a re-write! 
Making the decision to follow Christ doesn’t mean you have lost your dreams and desires. God is the one who put them there in the first place.  When we give our life to the Lord it is no longer ours, but no worries … He has blessings and favor lined up for us.  Even though we don’t know the whole plan along our journey, we can be sure that it is good.
“For I (God) know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
The question I want to ask is, “Do you believe in Jesus enough for your story to turn out good like He promised?”  In other words, “Do you trust in God enough for Him to do what He wants to through you like He did Peter?”
This Week’s Challenge:
Writing A New Story
You won’t make any changes in your life if you don’t come to realize what your story really is.  How will we know what story we’re writing?  Go fishing for answers yourself.

Our challenge is to ask at least ten people, in different circles we know, this question: “When you hear my name what is the first thing that comes to your mind?”  Write down their answers.

If they list your qualities, occupation or characteristics instead of recognizing that you are a child of God, you know your story – it’s the wrong one. Time for a re-write.
After you have your answers ask a second question, but this one is to God. 
“Lord, what is the story you want me to tell about you?  Write your story on my heart so I can share that message with others.”
Any fame we gain here on Earth will all be lost one day. Who’s going to remember the famous “pudding lady” anyway?  Maybe Rae, Shelley or even Bob.  I want a real legacy don’t you?  We can re-write our story.

When everything else slips away, will you be able to say,

God, I let You write Your story through me.”  Give God permission to write His story on your heart and your story will live forever in His.

“You will only make this journey once.

What kind of journey will it be?”

Billy Graham

Until next time, only God’s story receives favor.

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