i must go on boasting. though there is nothing to be gained by it, i will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. i know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body i do not know, God knows. [2 corinthians 12:1-2]
paul–for the first and only time–speaks of an experience that he had, probably at the time of his damascus road conversion, when he experienced Christ face-to-face.
what a strange thing.
he doesn’t tell us much more about it, but this incident could have been used throughout his ministry as a hammer, as a definitive proof that his words should bear more weight than his rivals. his “third heaven” experience would have been so weighty, that he could have gained fame and fortune, he could have avoided suffering.
and yet…even in this moment, paul does not even identify that this was his own experience, he diminishes his own part of the experience, and magnifies the sovereignty and knowledge of God.
as paul shows, stories are important. you and i are storytellers, and every day, we are telling a story, through our lives, our social media accounts, our words and our actions. is the story you are telling about you–or are these stories about the goodness of Christ and how he rescues weak and broken people to be on mission to help other weak and broken people? are you the hero of the story or the damsel in distress–or even more fittingly–the villain?
when i tell stories, they are often about me, my family, my experiences. they elevate me. i am the hero. but that shows no one the goodness and power of Christ to overcome me. when others see the facade of my false humility, my false piety, my false dedication, my false appearance of being a good husband and father, that does nothing to magnify the glory and majesty of Christ.
as you sit in the presence of God today, ask yourself–
- what stories am I telling?
- who is the hero of my story?
- what do i need to repent of in my storytelling?
- how can i better point to Christ as i tell my story? how can i put on display my weakness and the power of Christ as i tell my story?
if you have found that your stories are mainly about you, there is good news! God is gracious, and he is waiting to be gracious to you–oh! that he might rescue us from ourselves and our self-centeredness!
therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
for the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him. [isaiah 30:18]
let us boast only in this God!