The God of Unlikely Tales
Our four-week sermon series on marriage and singleness is now over, for better or worse. For my part, I am both happy and sad to be moving on. I shared with a few people my feeling that this set of messages will likely be among those I remember most fondly when my preaching days are over. The reason is because so much of my own story forms the backdrop by which I seek to make sense of these Scriptural truths.
When I say ‘my story,’ I actually mean that of my parents. They were a typical American couple who married soon after high school, had a couple of kids and some spiffy family pictures. But behind the smiles, all was not well, and their path led them out into the sticks seeking relief and answers. They did not know it at the time, but it was God who led them into the Lake Creek wilderness so he could reveal himself to them and rescue them.
The story is too long to tell here, and a fair portion of it is in the messages, so I will just say that fifty years later God has written an unlikely tale that beautifully displays God’s work of redemption. Paradise was lost, but garden is being reclaimed year by year.
As much as I love to tell that story, I also hesitate knowing that some are in the middle of stories unlikely to have a similarly beautiful ending. Like Frodo and Sam, they may be stuck in the worst part of the story and wish they could shut the book and stop reading. But the longer I live the more convinced I become that all who obediently trust the Author of all stories will have a beautiful tale to tell. Even the ones that seem to end badly are beautiful. Isn’t that what Hebrews 11 declares? Stories of miraculous deliverance as well as those of tragic death are both made beautiful by the Author. Sam was right: characters in each of these stories had lots of chances to turn back but they didn’t. That’s why their stories are beautiful, and worth telling again and again.
In the dark wilderness of Mordor, Sam wondered what sort of tale they had fallen into, and whether anyone would ever tell it by the fireside in ages to come. We are never told what our story will be. But the Author and Finisher of our faith promises not only to make our story beautiful, but that he will tell it in the ages to come. For it is one of the many unlikely tales he himself has written.