As I was taking my walk in the park this gorgeous morning, I was reflecting on the influence reading has had in my life. I remember being transfixed by the high drama of Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch as Mrs. Vander Wall read to us first graders. LOVED that story! I was instantly hooked on Zane Grey novels as a 10-year-old when I stumbled across Union Pacific. I wept like a baby over the death of Old Dan and Little Ann (Where the Red Fern Grows) and was stunned by the profound beauty of Cry the Beloved Country. Stories are powerful tools for molding the contours of our emotional landscape. They mold our loves and dreams and desires – and our fears.
This is why so many of us are struggling with anxiety, anger, and distress today. Social media has snared us into a never-ending, inescapable story of a broken world. Chaos, corruption, lies, perversion, and tragedies spill out of our laptop, iPad, and smartphone in a ceaseless tale of loss and woe. The pandemic, rioting, BLM, and the political campaign have us swirling with controversy and conspiracies.  No wonder people are anxious, angry, and afraid.  Anyone living in that story would be.
But we have a better story.
Those who believe in Jesus Christ have been “delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son” (Colossians 1:3). We have been called out of darkness into God's marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).  We have “crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). We are citizens of the kingdom of God! We are the beloved children of our heavenly Father. We are heirs with Christ of everlasting life.
Here’s one example of the difference this makes. When I enter a discussion about Governor Whitmer and the latest “executive order”, the conversation quickly revolves around the veracity (or lack thereof) of the CDC, the disputable nature of the seriousness of the disease, the exasperating inconsistency in protection protocols, the ineffectiveness of those protocols, the great damage being wrought on the economy and the elderly, and the “real reason” all this infuriating devastation is happening. In that “story” I quickly become anxious and angry. I easily assign motives and guilt and shake my head at the ignorance of those who don’t understand what I see and “know”. In that story, there is no joy, no help, no hope, no peace. 
But we have a much, much better story.
The glory of being a Christian is that, as a child of God, I can step out of that story. The gospel truth is that my life isn’t defined by that story. I have been brought into a vastly better story. It’s a story of a Sovereign God who loved me before the foundation of the world and gave me to Jesus Christ His Son, in order that I might be ransomed out of that story of death and brought into a story of everlasting glory and light. It’s a story about how my Heavenly Father ordains every single thing in my life with impeccable wisdom and infinite love. That means that my life isn’t in the grip of pandemics or politicians. I don’t have to figure out the bewildering blizzard of contradictory headlines or the mystery of malicious magisterial motives. All that’s above my pay grade. None of this is a mystery to my God and He assures me that He has this. He knows exactly what He is doing and why – and He promises me that it is for my eternal joy and good. He assures me that not a hair can fall from my head, no stray virus can lodge in my body, no executive order can happen apart from the will of my Sovereign, Heavenly Father.
That’s a terrific story!
And in that story there is life, and hope, and help, and peace. The simple challenge for us in this day when kingdoms are tottering and foundations are being shaken – what story are you choosing to live in? Your emotional state will reveal the choice you’ve made. Let’s embrace the magnificent story of life and joy and peace which is ours in Jesus!

“Now may the God of all hope and peace
fill you with joy in believing.”

In Christ,
Pastor Dale

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