He made the phrase “The Rest of the Story” famous. In his heyday, Paul Harvey was reaching more than 24 million listeners a week. His program was on 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations and appeared in 300 newspapers. People loved listening to him, especially when he said, “… and now you know … the rest of the story.”
Mention the name Jonah and most people think how he ran from the Lord. How he boarded a ship bound for a destination, headed in the opposite direction God had told him to go. How he got on that ship and, in the midst of a horrendous storm, pled with 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 instrumental in helping bring about a citywide revival in Nineveh that included the king!
When most people think of Peter, they think of a big fisherman with a big mouth, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, even swearing on occasion. People remember him denying the Lord to a young maiden by a fire and a rooster crowing.
But there’s more to the story. Peter repented. God forgave him and he became one of the most powerful prophets God ever had. He preached one of the most life-changing sermons ever preached on the day of Pentecost and helped start the very first church.
Bring up the name David, people immediately think of Israel’s greatest king. They think of a giant named Goliath and some giant mistakes David made. Like committing adultery with Bathsheba, having her husband killed and trying to cover it up, until he was confronted by Nathan – the prophet.
But there’s more to the story. David repented and God forgave. In fact, God allowed him to write the majority of the Psalms, the Bible’s longest book. In the longest chapter of the Psalms, chapter 119, we get a glimpse of one of the most godly men who ever lived. God’s own testimony, recorded in 1 Kings 3:14, makes it clear David was a changed man.
How about the name John Mark? Remember him? Those who do, remember him as the young man who turned back from the missionary journey in Pamphylia. He was the source of a dispute between Paul and Barnabas that became so intense they parted ways.
But there’s more to the story. Although Paul wanted nothing more to do with him when he deserted their mission work in Pamphylia, in his final days, Paul specifically asked for John Mark to come 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? When people think of her they usually think of the well where she was sitting and how Jesus asked her for a drink. They remember the fact 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 repented, gave her life to the Lord and was responsible for a massive revival in her town.
I remember a friend back in high school, in Oklahoma, who was a vulgar-mouthed pagan. He used to make fun of people who claimed to be Christians. He was a tough guy, getting into fights and possessing a reputation no one ever envied. He never had even the slightest interest in God or the church.
But there’s more to the story. Several years ago, I received a copy of a booklet, with updates on students who were in our senior class. It said he was married and one of his goals was to be the most dedicated Christian husband and father he could possibly be. He’d obviously repented and given his life to God.
I love THE REST OF THE STORY. Don’t you? I love the fact God doesn’t leave us in our sins, or in our shame, even when some of our friends and even family members do.
The fact is people can and do change. And many times, even though you and I may not know it, THE REST OF THE STORY is the best part. There’s hope for everyone. Whether your name is Jonah, Peter, David, John Mark, an unnamed Samaritan woman, my friend from high school, or even you! There’s hope.
John put it this way, “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 Christ, if we’ll just let Him.
You can begin to rewrite THE REST OF THE STORY of your own life today, by simply allowing God to do what He does best.
© 2016. 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.