When I was a child, my mother used to read me a story called “Dinosaur Dream” by author Dennis Nolan. It was a wonderful tale of a young boy who is surprised to discover an infant dinosaur scratching at his door one night. The book covers their adventure as young Gideon attempts to lead the creature back home. Recently, I bought the same book for my son and read it to him at night. I love a good story (I have a feeling you do too). I love good storytellers. If you’re like me, when your listening to someone speak, nothing piques your interest more than to suddenly hear them begin a story.
Stories help us to see our life from a grand perspective. They allow us to see individual moments of heartache and joy as simply chapters in a greater book still being told. If we fail to see this big picture, then it often makes life more difficult as we see no greater purpose or meaning.
The apostle Paul saw his life and work from this vantage point. In Titus 1:1-3 he writes,
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.
No doubt, Paul saw his life as a stroke in the great canvas of God’s redemptive purpose for history. From these few verses we witness three truths Paul understood about his place in God’s story:
- He understood his identity. Paul was an apostle of Jesus. He was a servant of God. There was no doubt in his mind as to who he was. Previously he persecuted the church, but now he proclaimed the gospel. What’s important to note is that Paul didn’t see his image in view of what others said, or what culture pressured him to be, but in who God said he was. Like any good story, the characters discover who they are in relationship to a grander purpose—it was the same for Paul, and it is the same for us. We are God’s elect.
- He understood his purpose. Paul believed he was a particular person for a particular purpose: “For the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth.” He was who he was, not to serve his own self-interest, but to bless and benefit the faith of others. Often, we seek to define who we are so that we can better create our own course apart from others. Yet the heroes in every story look to the needs of others above their own (Jesus being the greatest example).
- He understood his goal. Paul knew where the story ended: “In hope of eternal life.” He was a particular person, for a particular purpose, headed toward a particular goal. Just as you know good will always triumph, Paul was secure in the end of this story as well. His confidence didn’t come from faith in his own ability, but in God’s promise and person: God made a promise, before time, and he cannot lie.
Where is your story headed? Do you understand who you are in light of the cross? Do you understand your purpose in this world? Do you know where you are going and where your story will end? If not, it’s time to start seeing the bigger picture and find your place in the story God is telling. – Jacob Rutledge