My Biblical Faith professor gave an assignment to the class, instructing us to write a Reflection Paper, a 1250-1500 word essay, answering the following questions:
1) How does understanding the Bible as “the story of God” shape the way I view my own personal story of faith?
2) How do stories shape us as people?
3) What stories have shaped me personally?
4) What happens when I begin to see the Christian faith as the story of God redeeming the world He created?
5) What role does that mean God has for us as individuals, but also as a corporate group of people?
6) Does the “story of God” end with the book of Revelation or does it continue on today?
7) How does my own story fit or not fit into “God’s story”?
While I’m sure I did not answer all of his questions, I did take a deep look within myself. I’d like to challenge you to search deep within yourselves for the answer to these questions… can you tell someone what it is exactly that you believe and why you’re so rooted in your faith? No matter our stories, I pray that we all come to know that we are forgiven. Our dept was paid and we are now dead to sin. We are free from bondage, the chains are broken, and we are redeemed.
Here is what I wrote:
In the beginning of the semester you stated that the Bible was nothing more than one unfolding story of redemption. While I had never referred to the Bible as just a story, nor had I heard that particular statement, it is the story of redemption that is most valuable to me in my life. God has countlessly given me grace and mercy through my life. He has redeemed me in every aspect there is known. I understand that your denomination believes that there is room for errors in the scriptures and I understand why this is, however for me this is just not so. He is truth and His words are truth, even if only in my life. If I do not believe this then I certainly cannot live it and reflect Him to others. The Bible is God’s word and therefore a powerful presence in my life. It is not something that I use to control or manipulate my life, it is however where I go and ask, “How can You use me?” I recognize that the Bible cannot be considered in isolation from my life and faith and the surroundings of which I am a part. It is the very thing that reminds me that I am a sinner saved by grace just as Rehab, David, Elijah, Timothy, and so many, many, countless others. So many similarities throughout these stories are my own personal stories just with different characters. Having these stories of scriptural truth induces an interaction between my own experiences, the encounters with what it is I am reading and the reality of seeing God through all of it. These stories give birth to hope within me and assure me that what I have walked in this life is not in vain; my life is not an accident, it has been predestined.
As God heard the cries of the Hebrew people suffering under oppression in Egypt, He also hears my own cries and sees my tears. These stories help shape me and mold me. They help me know that in spite of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I will survive, as He will never leave me nor forsake me. Without these stories to aide in my own personal experience, I would not mature and grow. I would not know what faith is, what hope is, nor would I know what love is. These stories challenge me to reflect upon my own commitment and to do all things as if I were doing them for Him. (Which is a chore in and of itself at times, hence the word challenge.) Because of this, the Word of God comes into my own situations various ways. I know that it is not simply another source of knowledge about me or the world, but it is a dynamic, which demands a response. If I do not respond, I will never mature. If I do not respond, I will never transform. If I do not respond, I will never come to comprehend the fullness of His redemption, His grace, His mercy, His love – I will never come to know him.
Life has provided many blessings and curses; defeats and victories. I have walked through sexual abuse; domestic abuse (consisting of both physical and verbal abuse); rape; promiscuous living; attempts at suicide; depression; and the list could go on. But it was stories like Elijah escaping to the desert to die; David having an affair; Jonah running from obedience; Rehab; Esther; God protecting His children by opening up the ground and swallowing the enemy; Job; Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; Paul and Silas; Daniel; and countless others that offer me hope and assurance. These stories resonate within me, giving me an example to live by in the same situations while also challenging me to see God for who He is.
When I see God as actively present, not only as the creator but also the sustainer of this life (my life); as the God who meets people where they are, it is at the moment I can be actively transformed. It is at that defining moment that I realize that He is, He was, and He always will be in pursuit of me. In coming to this knowledge I cannot help but be transformed by His redeeming grace, mercy, and love, allowing it to change me. If I can believe that God spoke to such a people in the past – that He entered into actual history and made Himself known to particular people at special times and places – then I too am subject to historical exigencies and cultural patterns which means I can believe that He can come into my life today and transform me by His presence. It is precisely in the struggle of my own circumstances that God’s patience and mercy toward me can stand as an example, as reflected in Hebrews 11. In finding truth in faith, I find that He snatches me from myself, I no longer depend on my own strength, conscience, and experience; instead, I realize that God’s story is the absolute, unchanging, and transforming element in scripture. It stirs within me to want to search for Him, be like Him, and have a relationship with Him. This relationship will result in transformation as we see Him longing to redeem us. His words, stories, are not intended to merely teach me but to reform me. This is where we see God taking hold of us and removing us from ourselves.
Now having this knowledge, this awareness of who He is and His power and authority in our lives, it is our responsibility to go into the world and reflect the same mercy, grace, love – redeeming story – for all to see. It is not enough for us to simply read the word we must speak the word; we must inevitably walk the word. Before we can do this, we must acquire the same vision as Jeremiah by allowing God’s laws to be written on our heats so that it not only permeates our thinking but also becomes our very life and breath. We must always be growing, maturing, developing. As a result of such, we will seek to engage ourselves in what it is that God has for us which, in turn, equips others to not only receive God’s redemption but also to share His redemption story.
Jesus came, died, and lives so that we, the people of today, may receive and know God’s redemption. Revelations is merely a story of what is to come; His final judgment – His final victory. From generation to generation to generation, we are free to receive, to know, to walk in God’s story of redemption. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God’s story of redemption is still very much a part of us today. He is continuously interceding for us, working all things for our good. The story is not over, it has only just begun.
My story is God’s story. As stated previously, His word is not to merely inform me, it is also to interpret my own world and me. The experience of past Christians, referenced in the word, and the confessions of their faith is my own experience and confession. I cannot appropriate the truth of His story of redemption if this relationship is not already being experienced by making His story my own. I often hear that the Bible is a blueprint for our lives however, recently I heard a man state the following: “The Bible should function much more like a musical score than a blueprint for our lives. Score gives guidance but it must always be played afresh.” God’s story of redemption never changes however; I get to make His story my own story, every day, in my own way – by “playing it fresh”.
“I know how hopeless feels when you’re starring at the bottom of an empty hole. In my life I know how forgotten feels, wondering if the world even knows who you are. But I’ve never known anything, felt anything, like the love of Jesus. And it’s hard to describe what’s happening inside, but right now all I know is… It feels like redemption, raining down on me. It feels like forgiveness is come to set me free. All my chains have been lifted, ’cause when the hands of love touch a broken life, it feels like redemption. Now I know how thankful feels ’cause I am overwhelmed with this gift of grace. And I know how healing feels, ’cause all my pain and all my shame and all my tears have been erased. Say goodbye, the past is ending. Say hello, to a new beginning. No more night, the sun is shining. I cried out to the Lord, He heard my cry, He healed my heart, and He touched my life. It feels like redemption.”
Artist: Michael English; Songwriters: Sam Mizell; Matthew West
Copyrighted by reflectionsbypj 2009/11/30