Some stories are just hard to hear. They make us cringe and pull instinctively away from the hurt and pain they contain. Tales of human trafficking, abandoned orphans, the hunger and thirstiness of nations. Some stories told, mirror too precisely the brokenness of our world.
So every day, with the click of the remote or computer key or change of subject, we are tempted to shut these real life stories out of our hearts as a means of self-protection. These are the stories that may make us so uncomfortable, we shield our eyes and heart.
Because let’s face it, life is hard. And sometimes our personal stories are so filled with hard places that we feel like there is just no more emotional energy to invest beyond our own curbs. We want to slam the door in the face of any story that goes deeper than a movie review or a Pinterest quote. Been there, done that. I get it.
At the same time, I get sick and tired of my own junk and yearn for something bigger and better to be a part of my story. Something more noble, something that causes me to stretch into scary places of growth. Sound advice I’ve heard for years is this: the best way to forget about your own problems is to help someone else with theirs.
Loving Jesus means doing just that. Abiding in Him, means loving people and the way He led by example was never convenient, comfortable, and was usually contrary to cultural norms.
Some of the best stories are ones that tell of God’s love and light redeeming lives in the darkest and most broken corners of our world. Stories where humans, sparked by God’s divine presence within them, go and do amazing things beyond their own ability. Those where you say, there is no way something like that could have happened unless God was involved.
Loving people like Jesus did means opening my eyes beyond the doorstep, locally and globally. Really looking into the eyeballs of folks in line at Wal-Mart or the DMV or (gasp!) in the chair next to me at church. It means daring to get involved. It’s letting statistics sink into my consciousness and being horrified ( 27 million in modern-day slavery!) It means educating myself about the brokenness of the world through articles and books and listening to podcasts.
“Fair ended in the garden. Do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone.” –Andy Stanley
For HIS story to be our story, we must make a conscious choice to allow the things of this world that break his heart, also break ours. To go and do and love our neighbors by getting involved in the brokenness of this world, well quite simply, it’s the only story that matters.
Choose to become involved in stories that matter. Hard stories. Refuse to wrap your heart in the plastic coating of self-preservation and apathy. Get fired up about something way bigger and harder than you know you have the capacity to undertake. Joining God’s story as He lights up the darkest corners of this earth is what we were made to do.
The reality is that the enemy of this world wants us to be paralyzed by the bigness of issues of social justice and distracted by our own problems. Be willing to be used in whatever unique way for your season of life. Decide what is being asked of you personally and then courageously DO something.
Look bravely into the Big World and look also into your own backyard. Pick a place where you see God working and join him there. In whatever way that looks like. It will give your own story a fresh perspective and just may change its course entirely.
During the next month, I will share some of my favorite stories of people who are doing this very thing. Don’t be afraid to make someone else’s hard story become a part of yours.