But God

Each week I bounce back and forth between my work in progress, a Pre-Colombian historical novel set in the Caribbean, and pondering my blog. It’s like living in two different worlds, certainly using distinct parts of my brain. I can go from an intense scene adrift at sea after a hurricane, all hope gone, to considering how a Bible verse I read this morning may impact my life, and perhaps yours.

I’ve viewed this as an incompatible tension, until I started reading Dan Allender’s, The Healing Path.

Dramatically different from anything I’ve read, he asserts that we decide which life experiences define us. Even if we have a childhood full of terrible experiences and only a tiny touch of love, we can choose to let that one touch define our future story.

As I read, I thought of my female protagonist, Kiva, a young woman from an eastern Caribbean island invaded by a tribe of cannibals, who flees her island to avoid marriage to the chief’s fierce son. She experiences one disaster after another, and reaches a moment where she must choose whether to give in to darkness, or respond to a chance for new life.

Driftwood © Jack H Thompson

I purposely create dramatic conflict for my fictional characters so they are forced to make decisions, grow and become all they were created to be.

My youngest daughter asked me to write my own story. My response was a shudder, saying, “Who wants to read all that misery?” She responded, “But look how much you’ve overcome! People need to know it’s possible. Your story can give them hope.”

That didn’t click until reading Allender’s book. Just as I do in my fiction, I actually get to choose my own story from here on out, by what I allow to define me.

Isn’t that exciting? Whatever side of the nurture vs nature debate you’re on (is it what happens to us, or what we inherit that makes us who we are), what really matters is what you choose to take from it.

By itself, this is simply positive thinking. I tried that, when The Power of Positive Thinking was all the rage. It’s only a Band-Aid, with a guaranteed let-down.

The difference for a Christ follower is his work in our lives. We call it redemption, and it’s much more than saving us a spot in heaven.

The Holy Spirit has been working in my life for years, guiding, healing, protecting, prodding, and directing (when I’d follow). In spite of the hard times, I’ve seen God work. I’ve seen miracles. I’ve felt God’s love when I was totally unlovable. I’ve been redeemed, and am being redeemed. And that is what gives me the faith and hope I need to write a new story for my life, from this point forward.

I’ve always been fascinated with Joseph’s story. His own brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. No matter how good he was, things got worse. Years later, Joseph, as Pharaoh’s right hand, saved his family, and thereby the Hebrew people. He forgave his brothers, stating, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Joseph wrote the ending to his story, choosing to believe the whispers of the Spirit over years of the taunts of evil.

Have you resigned yourself to what has been? Believe it will always be like this, or fear it may get worse?

I am so grateful that Jesus offers hope.

Hope is the quiet, sometimes incessant call to dream for the future. The present moment is not enough to satisfy our soul completely; no matter how good or bad, the now leaves us hungering for more. And our insatiable quest for more is the root system of biblical hope. . . . Hope looks at the shattered remnants of the soul hit by the storm and envisions not merely rebuilding, but rebuilding a life that has even more purpose and meaning than existed before the loss. . . Hope takes the experience of loss and powerlessness and uses it as the raw material for writing a new and unexpected story. The Healing Path p 137.

In my novel, Kiva longs to return to her old life, before all the storms and losses she thinks are too much for her. But God whispers hope into her heart.

Ironic, isn’t it? I’ve been writing my own story all along.

Psalm 90 v1,2 on sand © Jack H Thompson
Psalm 90 v 1,2 on sand

Have hard experiences, or lack of good ones, tried to drag you down? Can you see a glimmer of light?

Is there a “but God” moment in your life, a turning point for a new story line?

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