I Bet You Stop the Story Too Soon


Easter (which I prefer to call Resurrection Day but I won’t lose sleep over it if you don’t) is an epic story.

God comes to earth in human form (i.e. Jesus), talks about a coming kingdom, heals folks, blesses children and their families, and argues with the religious and political establishment. Said establishment isn’t too keen on what He says and does, plots to arrest and kill Him then, executes the plan (which ends in a gruesome death on the cross).

Too bad, so sad for God.

End of story.

And I can hear you saying, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s not the end. You stopped too soon.”

Yes, I did.

My bet is you stop the story too soon also.

No, I don’t.

Oh, I beg to differ. I think you do.

No, no, I don’t.

Jesus dies on Friday but God raises Him from the dead by Sunday morning. The women go to find an empty tomb then Jesus appears to them. After that He appears to His disciples. He breaks bread with a couple of fellows. He goes fishing with some of the disciples. He eats. He drinks. People who love Him see, talk to, and touch Him.

Jesus gives the disciples some final instructions then He returns to heaven. And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.

Yes, but that’s not the end.

What do you mean, it’s not the end?

I mean you end the story way too early. In fact, if you’ve written any ending, you’ve stopped the story before God has.

First, let’s look at the basic elements of the story.

God’s invitation.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
says the Lord … (Isaiah 1:18a NKJV)

“Come, all you who are thirsty …” (Isaiah 55:1a NIV)

“Come, follow me …” (Matthew 4:19a NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened …” (Matthew 11:28a NIV)

“… Go, sell everything … Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21 NIV)

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” (John 7:37b NIV)

“Come near to God …” (James 4:8a NIV)

From Genesis to Revelation, we read about God’s pursuit of lost humanity. His invitation then and now is simple. “Come.”

God’s purpose.

People receive invitations all the time and each one serves a purpose.

“Come, check out our spring sale at J. C. Penney’s.”

“Come, see what’s happening today at Grover’s Groceries.”

“Come, watch our school band perform.”

“Come, support our high school baseball team.”

Invitation after invitation always, at its heart, invites us into something—a sale, a game, a performance, a party, something.

If you notice the invitations offered in Scripture, they have three specific qualities.

1) Intimacy. God’s words invite us to draw near and know Him.

2) Community. As we draw near to God, we close the gap between one another.

Let me give you a personal example. I’ve extended an invitation through the local paper, radio station, word of mouth, and posters to my first book signing on Saturday, April 14.

Those who respond will come to Richland Center Culver’s between 10:00 and 11:00 AM. The event, the place, and the time bring people, some strangers to one another, to a common place. They naturally, in responding to the invitation, come into a community centered around a person, me, or an item, the book.

If you respond to God’s invitation, “Come to Me,” then your response draws you into the community of those who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

3) Celebration. The stories illustrating the invitation’s end—banquets, weddings, the return of the beloved master, the completion of an assigned task—all have a festive, satisfying aspect to them. “Well done … Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23 NIV) “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34 NIV).

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life (Revelation 22:17 NIV).

So you know you’ve stopped the story too soon …

… if the story only seems ancient, something from the distant past …

… if you don’t see the story continuing in today’s world and events …

… if you don’t recognize the story includes you …

… if you’ve yet to experience the joy, the celebrative quality, of the story.

When someone says to me, “I’m reading your book,” I usually ask, “So where are you in the story?”

I ask the question in order to know what I can say and what I can’t about the story, to know where reader and author can connect because we both know that part of the story.

God knows the whole story. You and I only know a part.

So I’m curious. Where are you in the story?

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing. Each new post will come directly to your email inbox. In a typical week, I post two new articles. Scroll up and you’ll find the Email Subscription button at the bottom of the right-hand column.

Recommended reading:

Donald Miller’s “How to Tell a Good Story With Your Life”

Jon Acuff’s “The Best Thing I’ve Learned On the Road This Year”

Chris Patton’s “5 Things Your Pastor May Not Be Telling You”

Top 3 posts in the last 7 days:

“Are You a Part of This Story?”

“Holy Week Thoughts and Observations”

“Your Chance to Brag and My Top 5 Posts in March”

You can find Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes at:

WestBow Press

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

"Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes" visits Melissa and her Culver's crew who will host me on Saturday, April 14, at my first book signing.

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing. Each new post will come directly to your email inbox. In a typical week, I post two new articles. Scroll up and you’ll find the Email Subscription button at the bottom of the right-hand column.


About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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5 Responses to I Bet You Stop the Story Too Soon

  1. Chris Patton says:

    Amen!

    Great post, Tom! I love the perspective. When we can truly have this eternal perspective from day to day, so many of our worries and frustrations fade. I am in an eternal story and it is really only getting started for me! I cannot wait to see what happens next…

  2. Pingback: 2 Sentences You Don’t Want to Hear … Together! | A Curious Band of Others

  3. Pingback: 3 Smart Lessons I’ve Learned from Dumb Mistakes | A Curious Band of Others

  4. Pingback: Buddha’s 3 Essentials for Happiness | A Curious Band of Others

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