By Gregg Heid
Special to The PREVIEW
A story begins with a man and woman who fall in love, marry and have a family. They buy a starter house, adopt a dog, send their kids to school and go to their sporting events. They spend evenings on the deck with their neighbors and go to church on Sundays.
Boring. Where’s the crisis? A good story always has a conflict of some sort. The main character cannot go on and on with everything copacetic and nothing bad happening.
“Until something goes wrong, we don’t have a story, we simply have an episodic record of events” — “Story Trumps Structure,” page 38.
Through the negative comes the calling and transformation of one’s inner self.
When you write a story, you know who the characters are and how it will end. The entire story is in your head. The same is true with God. Your story and my story are in His hands. He knows every detail from your first breath to your last, especially the trials and turmoils. Without a crisis there is no transformation of the main character.
Life is the same. You and I are the main characters. We follow the story line of the author. There are many secondary characters that support our story. Even though we may not be the main event in what’s going on in the world, what happens to us is front-page. When we make decisions, and venture down rabbit holes, that’s all part of His plan.
We experience life with its goodness, pleasures and joys, but eventually there will come a crisis. Something bad will happen because we live in a fallen world. We get sick. We suffer, and we all die.
My life was like the first sentences of this article. I grew up in “Ski Town USA,” moved to the big city, married, had a family, sent my kids to good schools, etc. Everything was fine. I was sick along the way and had my share of life’s hardships. These events knocked me out of my comfort zones, moved me to new horizons and strengthened my faith.
I was brought to my knees in tears when my son, TJ, died in a fire last year. That was a crisis, which transformed my soul. I was angry with God for the death of my son before he experienced the joys of life and reached his potential as a son, a brother and a father. That’s not supposed to happen.
Sorrow filled my soul.
Jesus said to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is deeply grieved even unto death” (Matthew 26:38).
I, too, felt like dying. Life on earth had lost its value. I longed for my son.
I have since moved beyond a deep sadness towards the promises of Heaven. Although I love life and the beauties of creation, the following verse now excites me: “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
Heaven is a real place, where friends and family, and my son, await me.
If bad things didn’t happen to us we would never want to depart from earth, or turn toward God.
C.S. Lewis puts it this way: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
God doesn’t cause sorrows and hardships. They are consequences of the world in which we live. All of us will experience sorrows in our lifetimes. Knowing that Jesus is ever by our side gives us hope. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
The challenge is to get out of the way and trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Our story is already written, we need to follow it. When we do this by trusting Him, our supporting characters will help us through life’s hard times. They are Christ’s loving arms.
The funeral for TJ was a wonderful experience. It sounds morbid, but that was God’s opportunity to show Vicky and I how much He loved us. We had been in Pagosa only two years and the funeral service was nearly full. Friends and family came from all over the country. Shared tears, hugs and heartfelt words gave us the strength to get through the worst time in our lives.
Afterward, in our home, we had a luncheon. Many brought food. So much that we didn’t cook for a week. Our supporting cast even had me laughing at the fond memories. The love and shared sorrow allowed Vicky and I to realize that TJ was a gift from God. One day we will be with him again.
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