Mention the name JONAH and most people think of how he ran from the Lord. How he boarded a ship bound for a destination diametrically opposed to where God had told him to go. How he got on that ship and in the midst of a spectacular storm begged his shipmates to throw him overboard because HE WAS THE REASON FOR THE STORM.
BUT THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY ... Jonah repented. God gave him a second chance, and he was responsible for a remarkable revival that consumed a city and included a king!
When most people think of PETER they think of a rough, weather-beaten fisherman with salty language and sunburned skin, who had an uncanny ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Even swearing on occasion. People remember how a big, old, tough fisherman flopped like a fish in the presence of a young maiden as he tried to warm himself by the fire and she tried to pin him down as one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter turned into a coward by the fire, while a rooster nearby crowed and crowed and crowed.
BUT THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY ... Peter repented and God relented. Forgiving Peter and giving him the privilege of preaching one of the most powerful sermons ever preached on the Day of Pentecost as the Church was launched.
Bring up the name DAVID and watch what happens. People immediately think of Israel’s greatest king. But they also remember Israel’s most notorious sinner. Sure, they think of a giant named Goliath and a sling and some stones. But who can forget that rooftop bathtub and a beautiful young woman ironically named Bathsheba? They also remember how David had her all to himself until her husband came home and the chickens came home to roost. An unplanned pregnancy. An unintended complication. A failed attempt at an alibi and a fatal attempt to get rid of his most faithful guy, Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. Who can forget Nathan’s finger and forceful pronouncement, “You are the man”?
BUT THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY ... David confessed and God addressed his sin with grace and mercy and forgiveness. In fact, God guided his hand to write the majority of the Psalms, the longest and maybe strongest book in the Bible. In Psalm 119, the longest chapter, we get a glimpse of one of the most godly men who ever lived. God’s own testimony about David in 1 Kings 3:14 makes it clear David was a changed man.
How about JOHN MARK? Paul wanted nothing more to do with John Mark when he deserted the mission work in Pamphylia. A dispute broke out between Paul and his dear friend Barnabas. The source was none other than the deserter, John Mark. The resulting division took John Mark out of the picture and tore Paul and Barnabas apart.
BUT THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY ... Although Paul wanted nothing to do with him, when Paul came to the end of his life and ministry, he didn’t want to finish without John Mark at his side. His exact words were, “Bring John Mark because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). Obviously, there’d been a change in John Mark’s life and in Paul’s attitude toward him.
What about THE SAMARITAN WOMAN in John 4? The woman at the well? People remember where she was sitting when Jesus asked her for a drink. They remember what she must have been thinking and how she must have been shrinking when Jesus pointed out she’d been married five times and was currently living with a man who was NOT her husband.
BUT THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY ... She gave up and gave in, confessing her sin and giving her life to the One Who had LIVING WATER. Now she would never thirst again. She went back to her city, facing her shame and sharing the Name of Jesus and what He’d done for her. The whole town followed her out into the fields to find Jesus for themselves, and she was responsible for so many being saved.
I love it when there’s MORE to the STORY, don’t you? The fact is people can and do change. Many times you and I don’t know about it or get to see it. But there’s more to the story and someone who used to live in sin now lives serving the Savior. Or someone who used to waste their life in selfish, sinful pursuits, makes every moment count for Christ now, in self-sacrificing service. It happens all the time, all over the world, where people aren’t content with the current content of their story. They turn their lives over to God, and He turns the page and writes a new chapter.
When JESUS gets involved in our lives, there’s ALWAYS MORE to the STORY! It doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Our unchanging God will change us into the image of His Son, Jesus, if we’ll just give Him the pen and permission to re-write our story.
This fall, fall in love with Jesus all over again and watch what God does. He’ll write a new chapter in your life.
... And it’ll be the best one yet!
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.