During my girlhood days, in between sessions of baseball card trading and backyard productions of Annie, I was hard at work writing a fantasy novel. It featured a terrifying antagonist who would be defeated by The Greatest Hero Of All Time. And as I sat at the computer, typing away my magnum opus, I kept a book cracked open by my side for inspiration: the book of Revelation.
Revelation has always captivated me and my thirst for adventure, and this January 2016 was no exception. As Zach Van Dyke began his sermon series on The Story of God, I couldn’t wait to dig back into my favorite book of the Bible. But this time, instead of inspiring a fantasy world, John’s letter to the seven churches rocked my world. (Plot twist.)
Week after week, my pen has been furiously scribbling notes into my notebook during service. My pages are filled with ah-ha moments. Question marks. Cross-outs. Fervent prayers. My musings have even spilled over into the extra-wide margins of my Journaling Bible where I spend a few hours each week in art worship, meditating on a passage of Scripture using paint and stamps and stickers. It’s the time when my mind is the most quiet and when I hear God’s voice the loudest.
So, what has God been saying to me?
Well, that depends. How much time do you have? (Smile.) Truly, as I flip through the pages of my notebook and Journaling Bible, it’s clear to see that God has been doing a number on my heart this past month. But there are two sobering discoveries in particular that have smacked me upside the head:
Never have I been more aware of my own brokenness.
Never have I been more assured of God’s inexhaustible love for us. Or in the words of Sally Lloyd Jones, His “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”
I continue to return to Revelation 1:17, the verse Zach preached on in his first sermon in this series. Jesus says to John, “Fear not, I am the first and the last…” If I’m honest, I often live my life as though my story starts and ends with me. Yup. I’m a people-pleaser and recovering perfectionist all right. But I take great hope in that passage because it tugs my wandering heart back to the truth: that my story starts and ends with God, the Creator of the Universe, the Savior of my soul. He’s not my helper, He’s my everything. What a relief!
I yearn for that truth to take root deeply in my heart. And this month, I’ve been convicted of God’s charge on the church in Sardis to “wake up” and “repent!” Not just once in awhile, but continually—like every single day, like several times throughout the day—so that the love of Jesus outshines my sins and failures.
As Zach shared, “If God is my happily ever after, and in the end, all I get is Him, what more could I ask for? It is enough.”
Chills, right? That’s better than any epic tale a Lewis or Tolkien or L’Engle or young Lauren could dream up. Because it’s capital-T True. It’s what we were made for. It’s the artfully designed story of God.
And that, my friends, is good news.
Lauren Lanker is a Summit partner who serves as Waterford’s BCL Coordinator and co-director of Summit’s The Prodigal Musical and now The Road to Zamboria. She also blogs about creative risk-taking over at The Thinking Closet.