Story

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“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
C.S. Lewis

The story of Jesus Christ, his birth, life, death, and resurrection has often been referred to as the greatest story ever told. As beneficiaries of the gift of life Jesus made available to us through his sacrifice, we have become a part of this wonderful story.

We’re all born to live our own particular story. Think of your story as being like one of those Russian nesting babushka dolls. The biggest doll could represent God and his creation of the whole thing. We’re all somewhere down the line, the smaller dolls, if you like. If you’re a guy and you’re bothered by the idea of being a doll, be a… G.I. Joe. Whatever floats your boat. You get the idea. It doesn’t take any special effort to narrate your story. We all do that automatically from the moment we have an awareness of our own existence. As we grow older, the story going on in our head grows in size and complexity but our tendency even as adults is to make it mostly about ourselves. We call people who have little concern for the stories of others narcissists. I was watching a documentary the other day which mentioned an act of bravery by a soldier involved in our troops’ landing on Tarawa during World War 2. The soldier saw a grenade land in the middle of his group and immediately jumped on it to save his fellow soldiers from being killed by the blast. Miraculously, he survived and recovered from his wounds. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, but never told his family. When asked about his act of bravery, he said there was no time to think about what he did, he just did it. When he came home, he put the medal into a drawer and never talked about it until he was interviewed for the broadcast. This man carried with him an innate sense of the greater story.

One of the most difficult things to truly do is put yourself in another person’s shoes, especially if their feet are smaller than yours. Seriously though, even if we recognize the value of empathy, and our experience is significantly similar to another’s, we can still only go part way toward knowing how they feel. There are just so many variables in the human experience.

Right now, we seem to be in the middle of a most calamitous time in our history. Not long ago it would have been hard to imagine anything pushing covid 19 off the front page. Then in quick succession the killings of two black Americans highlighted some of the great inequities in our society’s handling of racial differences. It’s clear we have a long way to go to make our democracy truly available to all its citizens; much farther than many of us realized. While we may not truly be able to place ourselves in the shoes of another, we must try, and with the knowledge gained from trying, we must act.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:40 ESV


Setting aside that I don’t know you,
do I care?
If my world works for me,
do I see you standing there?
Am I my brother’s keeper
or even a reliable witness?
Where’s my responsibility
in inequity’s redress?
How much energy have I wasted
toward what didn’t count for your kingdom?
When you return,
let me not be found wanting,
considering what I was given.


© Joel Tipple 6/7/2020

Really, God?

I’ve wondered sometimes whether God has ever had occasion to think we all just might be a bad dream. That maybe if he hit the snooze button one more time he might have a better one. A dream where his creation didn’t waste so much time fighting with each other and indulging in ever more imaginative sinful selfishness. But no, God is awake, aware of his creation, including all its flaws, and it’s clear he loves us infinitely, since he sent Jesus to open our way to eternity. We have the freedom, with all the responsibility that freedom entails, to choose a relationship with God on his terms, or to go our own way. I’m convinced the overwhelming crush of evidence supports the argument that God is real, and rewards those who seek him. However, this is a fallen world we live in, where terrible things happen, and not just to people who haven’t chosen to accept eternal life and pursue a closer relationship with God. Although I’m just as susceptible to grief and outrage when bad things happen to good people, I’ve never accepted the premise that being good buys us out of awful stuff. As God’s creation, I believe we never shine more brightly than when we turn to God in the midst of tragedy instead of away.

For the sake of this ministry, we toil tirelessly and are criticized continually, simply because our hope is in the living God. He is the wonderful life-giver of all the children of men, and even more so to those who believe.
1st Timothy 4:10 TPT


For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Romans 1:20 ESV


Some Say

I’ve heard some say, “God is dead.”
How could they be so led?
Look around,
at all he’s breathed to life.

I’ve heard some say, “God can’t see.”
But he’s painted so much majesty,
he must know what delights our eyes.


I’ve heard some say, “God can’t hear.”
But I know he counts our words dear,
and responds,
though we judge his sense of time.

I’ve heard some say, “God can’t feel.”
But he knows our burdens
and we’re not left to deal alone.
Because he lives,
we needn’t fear to be alive.


©Joel Tipple 8/24/2019