Rapper Lil Wayne had some time on his hands when he was in prison a while ago. Rolling Stone magazine asked him what he found to occupy himself while locked up. Here’s what he said:
“I also read the Bible for the first time. It was deep! I liked the parts where some character was once this, but he ended up being that. Like he’d be dissing Jesus, and then he ends up being a saint. That was cool.”
I think Lil Wayne pretty much nails it. The Bible does indeed have depth. And those willing to probe beyond surface level observations will find an encounter with the same Jesus who helps characters like us change from “this” to “that.”
At Mountain we’ve turned the last page of The STORY, a chronological summary of the scriptures. It’s been quite a ride! I don’t know how long Lil Wayne was in the pen but we’ve been working our way through this book since September. And like Lil Wayne might do, we’re (w)rapping it up.
This past weekend I told some great stories people shared with me. Here are a couple of sound bites:
Jen said, “I love that we did The Story together as a family. We’d come home from church and talk about what we were learning. We were all talking about the same thing and it was awesome. I always like anything that draws our family together, but LOVED the fact that we were drawn together for several months around the Lord.”
Randy said the story was amazing. “I grew up with some religious education, but it didn’t really stick that much or make much difference to me in a personal way. I learned more about God and the Bible in the first three weeks of the Story than I learned in the previous 34 years of my life. Now the Bible is not just a nice accessory under my arm. It’s more than a decoration to make me look like a Christian. It’s a story that is real to me and makes sense and I can use it to guide my own story.”
A young woman told me, “I had been playing at religion. God wasn’t really real, and my life was a mess. Through The Story it’s like a fire has been lit in me. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times the words we read and the words of Mountain’s messages spoke directly to me. I’m so different. My family is different. I’m on a new path. Thank you!”
A young professional said, “I went out on a limb and put a memo on the board of the break room that said “Anybody want to read The Story with me, put your name down and we’ll do it.” Then he went home and freaked out and prayed. But four people signed up and he says, “We did it – all of them made it all the way through, and 2 of them had NEVER read ANY of the BIBLE before.”
One man said his mother was not a believer, and lived in another state. But she agreed to read the Story with him, listen to the messages online, and then they spoke and did “small group” on the phone each week. That woman visited Mountain a few weeks back and said she finally understands the Bible, and now she’s talking to God every day and coming so much closer to him.
The concept of Upper story lower story was a concept really helpful to a lot of people. Lower story is what is happening in our lives, every day. It’s our circumstances, good and bad, the stuff that makes up the story of our own lives – what we can SEE — that’s our lower story.
The Upper Story is what God is up to. You can’t always see it at the time, but you learn to trust it and know that God really is up to something – whether you’re in the wilderness like Moses, hanging on a cross like Jesus, or shipwrecked like Paul – the circumstances of your lower story may seem terrible, but when you surrender your life to God, you realize it’s all part of God’s upper story and God is at work.
One of our friends at Mountain was diagnosed with cancer toward the end of our time in The Story. I asked her how she was doing. “God’s timing is perfect,” she offered. “ I see now this cancer is part of my lower story. But I know God has his upper story going on – so whatever happens to me in my lower story, I’m just going to trust God and know that he is in control.”
These are just a tiny handful of the stories of people who, through our time in The Story, they have discovered Lil Wayne was right: if you get deeply into God’s Story, you will be changed from “this” to “that.”
To take it one step further, the truth is, when you realize you’re still living like “this” – and God is calling you to some other “that” – may I suggest we take a verse out of Lil Wayne’s rap-sheet: get into the Word, and let it get into you. That’s where the real change happens.