“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
—Psalm 139:16 (NIV)
Turning villains into heroes is not generally the theme of Hollywood movies. Usually the two are clearly defined, and we cheer for the good guys. A happy ending is when the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and the popcorn has just the right amount of salt on it.
That’s Hollywood style. In real life, if we pay attention, we will notice that God writes stories differently. Redemption is His theme. ALL the characters are flawed, and few escape without a harrowing plot. The story does not finish neatly in a few hours or even a few years, but over the winding course of a lifetime.
At various intervals it may even seem boring—like nothing is happening—but that is just not so.
I love Saul’s conversion story found in Acts 9. The chapter begins in a gripping way, just as fascinating as any big screen flick.
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1).
The villain Saul had already established himself as the enemy of God’s people when he stood by watching the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:58). Now Saul was working with the high priests to arrest followers of Jesus, known as “the Way.” On his way to Damascus to fulfill the story Saul was writing for himself, Jesus interrupts him and gives him a new direction. One that changes Saul to Paul, from villain to hero.
Doesn’t God write the best stories? They are powerful because of how He writes them. For instance, God writes stories with great patience.
Generally speaking, God lets people live a bit, make mistakes, and try out their own schemes. God doesn’t have to do this. However, the apostle Peter explains why He works this way in 2 Peter 3:8-9:
“…beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Being all powerful, God could zap us for our repeated disobedience and falling away. Yet He gives second, third and many more chances. So that we may come to repentance. Saul’s life bears this out, and probably yours does, too. I know mine does!
God’s patience reveals His boundless love.
Now I admit it: sometimes I struggle to understand the love part, because the world and God’s ways seem so harsh.
However, God takes the exact measures we need, and does exactly what will work in order to draw a people to Himself. God is the original radical! As in the case of Saul, it wasn’t easy…
What a time he had trying to convince followers of “the Way” that he was no longer their enemy. Because, who could believe it? Here was this persecutor now turned missionary.
“All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’” (Acts 9:21, NIV)
Wow! Just a great example of how God writes surprising twists and turns into our lives.
When I think about my own journey, I can’t say I would ever choose to experience vision loss, but I did. God allowed that chapter to be written. I think about how sometimes people pray for my eyes to be healed supernaturally, and it could happen.
Still I always say, vision loss is the glue that keeps me close to God. It drew me to Him in my time of need. There I was …writing my own story, going my own way, and He interrupted my life in a difficult fashion. The exact way He knew would work to get my attention and ultimately bring glory to God.
We see that many times in Scripture, as in the raising of Lazarus and the healing of the blind man in John 9. Jesus said, “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him,” (John 9:3).
No, I wasn’t physically healed as they were, but my spirit was healed through a physical challenge. My testimony rests there.
We were made to know Him, love Him and serve Him. How we know Him is through the marvelously— sometimes difficult, but always successful way He writes our stories. Letting God be the author is the best decision we can make. In reality, the only way to guarantee a happy ending—and His is the perfect love story.