Thursday, January 30, 2014

Upper and Lower Stories

       I mentioned several posts ago that my church would be doing a study on "The Story". This book takes the bible and places it in a historical/chronological order in order to tell God's story. It takes the key points and characters and and outlines it from Creation to Revelation in a narrative form. What is God's story? It is basically the plan he had to have a relationship with his creation. We were created to commune with God. He is our Lord and master but he wanted to be able to have a relationship with us and to dwell among us. That in itself is amazing. That is how everything began and yet we managed to mess it up.

       We are only heading into Week 5 of the study and I have learned an interesting concept which is what this post is about. You see in the story there are actually two stories. The Upper Story and The Lower Story. The upper story is God's story and plan. The lower story is actually our story. In the beginning these two stories would actually be one story running together in Eden. However as I said we messed it up and the two stories diverged. However they are still intertwined until the very end where they will join together as one.

      Let me give you an example of this through the life of Joseph. In his story he is abused by his brothers, sold as a slave to gypsies traveling to Egypt, becomes a servant to Potiphar, falsely accused and thrown into jail, interprets dreams for the Pharaoh and becomes second in command and finally creates a conservation plan that saves both Egypt and Israel. Interesting story filled with ups and downs. I am sure many times Joseph was wondering what was going on and where his life was leading him. In God's story He has a plan. He is going to make Israel into a great nation. Israel would be his chosen people and a would redeem the world. They would be an example and the path to salvation. This is the overall Upper Story-God's plan to bring us back to Him. The Israelites would need to survive a famine in order for this part of the story to continue. God put everything in motion through the Lower Story to keep things intact for the Upper Story. Do you see what he did there? The Upper story is written all the way through to the end. The Lower story interacts and intertwines with in to bring it to conclusion.

     How does this relate to us? It is important to remember that each and everyone of us has a story that is being written and that it relates to God's story. We may feel lost, afraid, unwanted, unloved and not worthy. However that is not true. God loves us and is using us to bring His story to fruition. This is something that I am trying to remember now on a daily basis. "How does my lower story relate to His Upper Story?" I may not understand it fully but as I meditate on it I can begin to bring my story more into line with His. Each day I need to pray that I am growing closer to what He wants with my life so that as I finish I can end being blessed and knowing that I have done what He wanted. That my story has contributed to His in the way He wanted. <><

Wednesday, January 15, 2014



I have learned through my work with Compassion as well as my mission trips that relationships are truly our "Kingdom work". This is what we are called to do and for what we are created to do. From the very beginning God created man to have a relationship with Him. Eve was created to have a relationship with Adam. It continues onward. Before I became a Christian I knew there was something missing inside of me that needed filling. That was my relationship with God. In fact being a Christian is not about following rules and being good. Rather it about having a relationship with our God and growing from there. All the rest begins to follow as we grow deeper in our relationship with our creator.
     Karen and I work diligently when speaking to potential sponsors (through Compassion) to explain that it is not the dollars but the relationship that is important to the child. As the child is sponsored and begins to attend a project they begin to grow in a relationship with caring adults as well as learning about God. Sponsors who write further that relationship and in fact create an entire new relationship where a child is valued and cared for by someone they do not even know. The program works as I have seen children blessed by those letters. On the other hand sponsors who do not write hinder the relationship and often leave children wondering why they are not being written too. For a child in poverty a letter and a relationship is a treasure thing.

    This post comes as a result of my recent trip to Romania through Remember the Children. One of the gifts I received on this trip was being blessed through forming relationships. I came back with a renewed sense of how important relationships are.  My work with Compassion and which I constantly speak of is being "relational". I can speak well of it but this trip brought it home to me. Seeing children climb into the laps of team members, seeing the gypsies dancing with us, seeing an elderly orphan cry in happiness at being baptized and seeing strong family units that are put together through God brought it all home. A smile or silly face can bring sunshine to a dreary day. A hug and a smile can bring light to a child's eye. Sitting down with an elderly orphan and just listening (even with a language barrier) can be life changing. Handing out those Christmas boxes to children began a relationship with them and the local church that proved they were loved and cared for.

      Just remember that it is our calling to be relational to everyone we encounter. Just taking a minute to "step into" another's  life and letting them know we care and are there for them can be life changing. <><