There was this girl…she was very young, but she’d been on adventures.
The daughter of a king, she had risked her life to protect the enemy of her people. She was abducted for ransom, but deemed not worth saving by her royal father. Eventually she married into the enemy’s camp and sailed with her husband to another country, where she lived in a completely foreign culture and died three years later.
Her name was Rebecca Rolfe, but that’s not the name she’s known for. She’s known for the name she had earlier, when she did that amazing thing she is celebrated for – saving the life of John Smith. Her name then, of course, was Pocahontas.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.
– 1 Corinthians 1:26-27
There was this other girl…she was the daughter of a political activist who was assassinated when she was still a child.
She was born in the early 1900’s in a small eastern European country that had its own identity crisis to such an extent that she technically had several nationalities by the time she was an adult. She moved away, eventually to become a legal citizen of the country she served, lived, and died in. Her name at birth was Agnes Bojaxhiu, but the name everyone revered at her death was Mother Teresa.
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
– 1 Corinthians 1:28-31
There was a man named Paul, formerly Saul, transformed from persecutor to apostle. His story wreaks fear in the enemy who would like to see people chained to their past.
I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
– 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Our history does not dictate our future. He’s not done with us, and He’s not done with those we’ve been praying for, either — the hurting child, the struggling teen, the difficult co-worker, the angry relative, the grieving friend, the immoral business, the dishonest politician.
(I’ve heard He even saves people who voted for Clinton in the nineties – though Vince is quick to remind me that love keeps no record of wrongs)
Who we will be at the end of our story is still being shaped by our willingness to obey and follow Him. Our future is still being written. What will we be known for?
They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
– Revelation 22:4-5, ESV
God, I’m praying for freedom for anyone feeling tied to their past. You create all things new, You leave no stone unturned, You leave no person untouched. Help them to know that You’ve called them to greatness, and give them a vision of the good future You’re calling them into.
One more. Well, two more.
There was this man named Zaphenath-paneah – weird, I know. He was sold into slavery as a boy and spent years in and out of prison, eventually coming into great favor with the king. He had an idea to save the nation from famine and after thirteen years of forced labor, he became the second most powerful man in the land.
There was this other man, Jacob – he went from being a deceitful mama’s boy to the father of twelve tribes, and God renamed him Israel. Two years into the famine, his family was starving and they sought food in Egypt, where he found both refuge for his family…and also his much beloved son, Zaphenath-paneah — more commonly known as Joseph, thought to be dead for about fifteen years. The family was reunited, and when Jacob died seventeen years later, his body was actually embalmed according to the customs of Egypt. So was Joseph’s, about eighty years after that.
Neither of these men could have known what the ending of their stories would be when God spoke to them in the beginning of their journeys.
And at the end of our story, we will look back and notice the same thing.