Because It's Not About Me [Devotion]
In my humble opinion stories are never ultimately about the protagonist.
Some of you may agree, some may disagree, and some of you don’t particularly care. But hear me out. Since God is not an aloof God but is intimately involved in the lives of all humans (Acts 17:28) I think it is safe to say that each human is the protagonist, in a way, of the story that God is telling through their lives for His own glory. But with that in mind, as I said above, the protagonist is not the ultimate point of the story.
To illustrate this I want to reference two separate biblical accounts; The Fiery Furnace and the Stoning of Stephen. First the martyrdom of Stephen. I won’t go into detail but you can find the account of Stephen’s final moments in Acts chapters 6 & 7. A faithful servant of Christ, Stephen is seized by the Jewish religious leaders and put on trial for his faith. Refusing to renounce Christ (and indeed proclaiming Him in His glory) Stephen is dragged away and stoned to death. If Stephen was the ultimate point of his earthly story then surely that is a less than satisfying end to one so kind and caring.
In order to understand the concept more fully I want to look at the response of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when threatened with horrible death in the fiery furnace (find the full account in Daniel 3). When threatened with certain death if they did not participate in idolatry these three faithful men responded, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18). Refusing to obey they put their faith in God knowing that He was able to save them out of the situation. And for us in hindsight they seem pretty well founded in that assertion. But the part of the verse that I want to key in on is the beginning of verse 18, “…But if not…” What a statement! These three men knew that they were not the point of their own story. If they were they would perhaps have been justified in saving their own skin by bowing to the idol. Instead they refused to bow even if God did not save them from the consequences.
Both of these accounts demonstrate a fundamental understanding that the story isn’t about the seeming main character. If it was then it would only be a good story if good things happened (or at least happened in the end) to the main character.
So what are stories ultimately about? Truth. The ultimate point of every story (whether the author realizes it or not) is to convey truth about how the author understands the universe. Even in fantastic settings and far away times and places the story is about what the author thinks is true.
So why is this a devotional and not a storytelling blog post? Because as Christians we all need to be reminded that it’s not about us. Your story is not ultimately about you and my story is not ultimately about me. It is about the truth that the Author of time and space is declaring through our lives.
I’m not saying that people aren’t important to God. People are very important to God look at what He did to save them. But when we start to realize that our lives are about more than whether or not we have an earthly happy ending then our gaze is turned beyond the horizon to the eternal happy ending God has waiting for those who are in Him and we can say that no matter what God allows us to go through (whether the threat of fire or the reality of stoning) that we will not bow to the idols of this world but will stand in the confidence that God is working all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)!
May God turn your eyes to Him!