“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them . . . When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’” – John 20:20-22
Like many of you, I am a fan of good preaching and teaching. I like to hear the Word expounded, exposed and then applied. I like to learn new truths about Scripture that encourage me and build my faith. I like it when good teachers shine the light of truth upon my path and I get those “AH HA” moments when I discover something new about God.
What bothers me is when a teacher shares how God has done something wonderful and unique in their life and then tries to tell me if I pray or fast or read the same book (or worse, buy THEIR book!) then God will do the same thing for me. Really? God wants my story to be the same as their story? I don’t think so. Our very imaginative God created over 350,000 species of beetles alone. Why must someone else’s story also be mine? I’m called to be like Christ, not the preacher down the street or on T.V.
The other night I was rereading The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. In one scene the boy named Shasta is having a conversation with Aslan. Aslan just finished telling him He was the lion that forced him and Aravis, another girl on a horse, to travel together. He was the cat who comforted Shasta among the houses of the dead and the lion who drove the jackals away while he slept.
Finally Shasta begins to understand and says, “Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I,” says Aslan.
“But what for?” asks Shasta.
“Child,” says Aslan. I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
After reading that last line I sat straight up in bed and inhaled. My wife said, “What’s up?” I read her that passage and then said, “Jesus tells no one any story but their own, and then we turn and try to make our story their story. Why would we do that?”
I spent four years in a monastery so God could work on my character and Christlikeness. I even wrote a book about what I learned. But I’ve never told anyone they had to become a monk in order to succeed in their walk with Christ. That was my story. Yours has been, and will be, very different.
Wanting Jesus to tell us another person’s story is at least as old as Peter wanting to know John’s story. But Christ wouldn’t tell Peter. He simply said, “You must follow me.” And he did. Eventually Peter was crucified but John died a natural death. Their story was different but their dedication to Christ was the same, and I’m sure they both heard the same “Well done” by their Lord and Savior.
I like to hear people’s stories because it reminds me how God is working in other people’s life. But I don’t feel like I have to make their story my story. I have my own.
So, what’s your story?