So, how did you end up at Yale for graduate school?” Whenever
someone asks me this question, I have to decide what
sort of story I will tell.
There’s the story that says, “Well, I applied broadly and
went to the best program that would have me.” That’s the story
I usually prefer in polite company. Then there’s the other story.
The one that goes like this:
Well, first I applied only to Yale and didn’t get in. I was
crushed and wasn’t sure I could go through the emotional
roller coaster of applying again the next year. While I was
trying to decide, a young man who knew nothing about me
prayed for me and told me that God wanted to grant me
favor where I hadn’t previously found favor. He went on to
tell me things only God knew about my hopes and dreams.
I felt completely known and loved by God; it was a pivotal
moment in my life.
So I applied again, confident of God’s presence with me and
received admission to the same program that had rejected me
the previous year.
Those are two different stories. Neither is false. They
recount the same event, but they tell different stories. I’ve discovered
that it matters very much which story I tell. It matters
whether my story is one of natural cause and effect and strategic
decisions on the one hand, or one of divine direction and provision
on the other. It matters because my past doesn’t shape my
future nearly as much as does the story I tell myself about my
past. The events of the past are over and gone. I carry the story
The psalmist promises to tell a story with God at the center.
What story will we tell?
God, give me the courage to testify to your goodness. Amen.
What is the Easter message, and what are we to do with it? Two dimensions of the responses to God’s act of raising Jesus stand out. First, repeatedly the texts speak of public worship. Second, the texts speak of changed lives. In 1 Peter 1 the Resurrection effects a new birth marked by obedience to the truth and mutual love. The two responses—public worship and transformed lives—are not separate from each other in the texts. One leads to the other and back again.
• Read Acts 2:14a, 36-41. What of Peter’s words that follow speak to the heart of the good news: “God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified”?
• Read Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19. The psalmist declares that he will pay his vows to the Lord “in the presence of all [God’s] people.” As the author notes, what story will you tell about God’s work in your life?
• Read 1 Peter 1:17-23. When have you witnessed God’s guid- ing hand at work in your life, not only in pleasant times but also in disappointment and darkness?
• Read Luke 24:13-35. When have you participated in a Bible study that offered such illuminating results? When have you experienced the inbreaking of God’s life at the table of Jesus Christ?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.