As an author, publisher and writing coach, books are constantly on my mind. Last night I finished editing a manuscript which will soon become a book, a memoir. The writer will “hold her life in her hands” in print. She wrote an important legacy which her grown children, grandchildren, great-grands and onward will cherish. Several more such life-stories are waiting their turn in the wings for my help in editing so the dreams of other writers can be fulfilled.
I look at my life too as a book with chapters. Since I've written many life-chapters already, I look back now that I'm living my summit chapter and feel as if I were a different person in each of those chapters. In a sense, as I matured I assumed various roles in the individual chapters (seasons) of my life. I'm still the same protagonist, the unchanging leading character throughout my non-fiction life-book. But without question, I'm satisfied to acknowledge God as the Author.
We’re always told not to read the last chapter of a book to see how it turned out; let's keep up the suspense and wait to be surprised. The Mother of Jesus was unique, however, because God gave her a prophetic peek through old Simeon at the Presentation of baby Jesus in the temple. He revealed one of the later chapters of her life that would pierce her heart. I'm not privy to such a revelation; perhaps it is best that all of us are spared that glimpse. Either we would be too eager to reach the happy ending of our life-story—or drag our feet, if we knew in advance about some trauma or trial that is to come.
I”m a bookworm too; I inhale books, so to speak. As a writer, I think in chapters. I love to read all kinds of books, especially biographies and dramatic New York Times bestsellers, if they are clean. If I have any addiction, it is that I overindulge when I read an exciting book—once started, I gorge myself. I'm intemperate; I swallow the book whole, gobble it up almost at one sitting, if it's a real page-turner. I feel compelled to read it straight through to the finish. Let the world go by; nothing else will get done. And I always want another good book ready to caboose on this one, when I finish the last page of the current one.
Our lives are like the chapters in a biography. In the first few pages we have the front matter, the copyright page—the “birth certificate”—then the foretaste that launches our story—the Acknowledgments, Foreword, Introduction, maybe a Preface. God has determined the venue for our lives, chosen our DNA and the circumstances where our life-drama will take place under His providence. He chose the plot and the characters who will interact with us in life but allowed ample choice through our free will. It’s bound to be a real page-turner!
Each of my life-chapters is separate and chronologically progressive. No single chapter is the whole book; the plot and subplots keep unfolding, so I shouldn't get bent out of shape at how things seem to be turning out in a particular chapter. God is at work developing the whole exciting adventure story of my life. I shouldn't despair half way through. I must hang in there—everything will work out, if I belong to Him. The kids, whose diapers I changed in one chapter, will walk down the aisle in cap and gown and later in wedding apparel. The stuff I worry about which I don’t think I can possibly live through, may not even be there when I'm living in the next chapter.
God is good, so I can anticipate a generous basket full of serendipity times and events and adventures that will contribute to the fulfilling of God's purposes for my life. And a ton of ordinary days and seeming non-events. I'll find out that the trivials and humdrum routines are the building blocks to develop holiness. The Mother of Jesus and his foster father Joseph surely must have experienced many joyful but ordinary, mundane, homespun times with Jesus as He was growing up. Not everything they said and did would have been quotable, earth-shaking, and worthy of holy writ, otherwise the gospels would have included those in Jesus' biography.
Since my life is made up of so many commonplace daily doings, I'm determined to enjoy each chapter as the pages turn and treasure the beloved characters who are living it with me. In my life-book some characters will come and others will go. I must keep offering to God all things joyful and painful and accept His well-plotted plan for my life-story. It's a given that I should live fully in the present chapter until God provides a segue and starts to write the first line of the next chapter.
There are times in my life when I thought surely I reached the last chapter, and God must be getting ready to close my book. I can't second-guess God! When I approached my eightieth year, I thought I'd written the final chapter in my literally about-to-be-published autobiography. What more could God possibly plan for me to experience in life? What further ways to serve Him during what people regard as our declining years?
That was 14 years ago! Little did I know that not one but several more incredible life-chapters (and a dozen plus books) were still ahead. Instead of being finished, I was on the verge of more paradigm changes in my life.
I'm always eager for God’s breathtaking, fantastic surprises in each next chapter! Aren't you? Ultimately, after God concludes His last chapter of my earthly life-story, I look forward to an ample Epilogue, a fitting climax—Eternity in the Presence of the Blessed Trinity!
As they say, “The best is yet to come!”
So let's celebrate each chapter as a loving gift from God!
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