As my husband and I started to leave the library, I had to turn my eyes away from the “New Books” section situated by the door. On one of the shelves, prominently displayed, was the newest book of an author I know, a novelist who has been regularly putting out bestsellers for a couple of decades. As for me, not only had I never had a bestseller, but I hadn’t even put out a new book in six years.
I was tempted to envy. But as we stepped outside, I told myself—once again—“That’s not your story.” I wasn’t talking about her book. I was talking about my life.
My mother had a little rhyme she liked to quote, one she had learned from her mother. The words were a familiar part of my childhood: “As a rule, man’s a fool, when it’s hot he wants it cool, when it’s cool he wants it hot, he’s always wanting what is not.”
Or, in my case, she always wants to be what she’s not. Being myself was never good enough; I wanted to be someone else, someone with talent and intelligence, someone successful, someone who was capable of doing all that I would never be able to do.
It has taken me years to understand that this is a rotten way to live: maddening, counterproductive, and completely opposed to what the Lord desires for us.
It is also undoubtedly commonplace. I’d wager that many of us—if not most of us—wish to be someone we’re not, wish to live somebody’s story other than our own. Just look at the original disciples of Jesus, those earliest of saints who were so explicitly human. When Jesus told Peter about the role he was to play in the church, the first thing Peter did was point a finger at John and say, “What about him?”
To which Jesus essentially replied, “His story isn’t your business. You’ve got your own story. Keep your eyes straight ahead and follow me” (John 21:15-23).
Among the many roles God holds in our lives (savior, provider, sustainer, comforter) is that of author. He is the original author, painstakingly and lovingly plotting the story of each life, beginning with conception and ending—or, more accurately, not ending—with the physical death that ushers us into eternal life.
Even while he’s knitting us together in our mother’s womb, he’s planning the way in which the story will unfold. Psalm 139:16 offers this remarkable truth: “Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me when none of them as yet existed.”
I have to pause and consider these words with no small measure of amazement: God knew about all the days of my life before I was even born. That’s because he himself is writing my story. And that can mean only one thing: it’s a good story.
I look at others too—especially those bound to be most overlooked by the world—and see God’s hand at work there as well, writing something beautiful. Though the overarching story of this planet seems a mess, the plot one of grief and chaos, God is sovereign over all of it—the largest world events and the smallest individual steps. In the end, and always, his will is done.
Part of living my life as a love story with God is realizing and believing that I am who he wants me to be and my life is as he planned.
With that in mind, I look back over the years and notice something wonderful happening. The failures, losses and disappointments fall away while the goodness rises. I see the manifold blessings that have marked my path, even though it was a path I so often at the time didn’t want to take. But God guided me into the hard places so I could see his everlasting goodness dwelling there. It is a path both laid out by him and leading ever to him.
How often now the words of Psalm 16:6 come to me: “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” With this thought, thankfulness fills me. This is my story and it is good, because it is being written by God. He makes my life a love story with him.