The realities of COVID have continued messing up my plans and expectations and have been causing me to ask myself whose story am I actually living.
There seems to be an underlying story many people cling to that life should be long, healthy, and safe. That we should be able to become anything we want and live where we like. That we should be able to have relationships that fulfill us, homes we like, and vacations we dream about. That we could retire one day, preferably early, to a place that calls to us.
The other day I was talking with some friends and asked them to be honest: Would they trade a long, healthy life with a happy family, many vacations, hobbies, and financial security but little experience of God and His purposes, for a short life packed full of Jesus? It was a sobering moment when we all realized how getting a particular way of life on earth is something many of us would not trade for a life more full of Jesus.
If we pay attention to what we are upset about during this COVID season, we will discern a little better what we have set our hearts on for our life’s story. Our disappointments, like nothing else, reveal the story we are living by and for.
Living our life for the wrong story is a great temptation and yet leaves us empty and disappointed. In Luke 12, Jesus tells us a story:
Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)
Death is the ultimate revealer of our story, but disruptions like COVID also reveal to us what we are living for. The last few months have given us the opportunity to examine ourselves, our expectations, and ultimately what we are choosing to live for.
There is a way to live with Jesus where nothing, not even death and definitely not COVID, can separate us from an abundant life with God. This is the story written by God, not by us.
The Apostle Paul came to this realization, trading a story of worldly success for one in Jesus, a story in which he could honestly declare “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) We see again and again that no matter how Paul’s life was interrupted or how often he experienced suffering, nothing overcame his life in Jesus. Paul found the place Jesus promised and offered. Paul could cease trying to be the author of his own life and experience the story of God.
As COVID continues to interrupt our plans, what disappointments, fears, and anxieties do you notice? What expectations for your life are revealed? And whose story, if you are honest, are you really living for? Are you ready for the story God Himself wants to write for you?