Sunday, August 2, 2015

EPIC: Week 6, Epilogue

Image result for i love to tell the story hymn
The final chapter of God’s Story, Your Story by Max Lucado is titled “You Will Finally Graduate.”  Throughout my career as an educator, I’ve attended many graduations, so this is a metaphor that resonates with me.  There were my own graduations—8th grade, high school, college, and graduate degrees.  There were the 14 years of annual graduation ceremonies at Carlisle High School for students I had taught.  Then came the 14 years of graduations at Northern Illinois University (3 ceremonies each year) watching students wearing powder blue cowls accepting their master’s and doctoral degrees.  And at each and every one, some speaker or another would tell the audience to note that their programs referred to the ceremony as “commencement”—a beginning.   Emphasizing this point, many graduates received a copy of Dr. Suess’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! among  their graduation gifts.  Max Lucado makes a similar point—the end of our life on earth marks the commencement of eternal life in heaven—that we will graduate.  Yet for all the students in all my classes over the years, not all graduated; some were drop-outs, some didn’t complete all their coursework, and some were ABD (all but dissertation)—they didn’t complete the requirements for graduation.

What are the requirements for God’s “graduation”?  It’s not about putting in “seat time” or earning “credits.”  As Paul points out, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2: 8-9).  Yet James tells us that faith requires a response in how we live our lives: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).   Jesus defines the action that accompanies faith by quoting Deuteronomy  6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22: 36-40).  What does the Lord require of you?  “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Walking humbly with God; knowing His story and making His story our own, reflecting the power of God’s story in the lives of individual lives within the body of Christ.  Sharing His story (and ours) with others reveals the transforming power of our Savior.  Such is the purpose of, a web site that carries individual stories of Christian belief and where you can share your “His story is my story”  to inspire others to find their role in God’s epic story so that they can know and join in the grand epic and “graduate” with us.


This is a blog post I wrote on my personal blog on May 21st of this year, right after Libby graduated from Miami University...

Alpha and Omega

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." - Isaiah 43:18-19
"I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." - Revelation 22: 13
     It's funny that May, a season of new life and an abundance of spring growth, should be punctuated by graduations, which seem like endings.   Tearful goodbyes, reflective speeches, scrapbooks full of memories, and wistful songs permeate the occasion.  High schools and beloved universities become alma maters, and students become alumni.  Fight songs are played one last time while best friends sway and sing,  already missing each other.  
     My husband and I sat in the stands (in the rain) of Yager Stadium at Miami University last weekend, watching our daughter and friends end their four years together, hardly believing that this era was closing.  How could the end come this fast?  It seemed like yesterday that we were moving her and Hannah into Tappan Hall, and a couple of the girls in her corridor came to her room bearing bags of "puppy chow" to share.  One of them, Katie, said her mom told her it would be a good way to make friends.  Well, right she was!  Those girls, and four others, became Libby and Hannah's best friends, guardian angels, and lifesavers at Miami.  They ended up living together again in Scott Hall the following year, and continued to live together in an apartment on Sycamore Street for their junior and senior years.  How could it be that all that was over?
      But then, at the apartment after the ceremony, one of the girls said she heard someone say that graduation wasn't the end of those friendships, it was just the beginning, and I started thinking about that.  Well, of course!  God has designed everything in our lives to be new beginnings.  Jesus made sure of that.  When everyone at the cross thought that an ending had occurred, Jesus knew it was just the beginning of something greater.  Gold DOES stay.  While graduations mean things are changing (and that can be hard), they don't mean the end.  They mark a beginning.   God has already started working in all those kids' lives to bring about a future of great things.  Those friendships will strengthen and grow and will continue to thrive.  We already know they will all gather again for two weddings in June (wonderful celebrations of beginnings), and they are planning to continue the tradition of Friends' Thanksgiving (a gathering my friends and I started in college and continue to this day - the Miami kids joined us for the last three years).  I'm sure they will plan many reunions. They may be going their separate ways soon, but they will continue to add new dimensions to their friendships because of their future experiences.  Because of God's promises, the circle is unbroken and our endings are beginnings.  What a wonderful assurance!

I love this quote because many times we DO get caught up in endings, but God is already creating a new beginning:

"And because it's all that we can see, the ending becomes an end in itself when directly ahead of us new beginnings are being forged and fresh byways are being laid out from the very ending we're caught up in." - Craig D. Lounsbrough

    My year was full of endings and beginnings: Katie leaving home to start college at OSU, Libby's college graduation, wedding, and move to Columbus, and putting our house on the market to downsize into a condominium in Landen.  Whew!  They were all happy things, though, so I can celebrate them all. 

   The bigger challenge is when endings and beginnings are more difficult: a divorce, loss of a job, a wayward child, a betrayal,  an illness or death.  God, though, has his children in the palm of his hands, and as He turns the pages of His Story with those hands, we are with Him.  We are part of the Story and all it has to tell.  Our challenge is to tell that Story to others.  To give those who have not heard the story or who have not accepted it yet a new beginning.  A better plot.  Go tell it on the mountain!

Epilogue Discussion Questions

1. Summarize your thoughts on what John Eldredge describes as the Three Eternal Truths:

 A. Things are not what they seem.
 B. We are at war.
 C. You have a crucial role to play.

2. As an actor in an epic story, to play your part well, you must know your role.  

* What, as a young boy or girl, did you once dream or hope your role would be?
* Consider the characters you love in Scripture—what is it about them and their role in the epic story that you would love to believe is true of you?

3. After reading  Finding Your Role, write a prayer, asking God to give clarity to your life purpose and calling.

Something to Ponder

Now that you’re aware of the power of a person’s story, begin to ask those closest to you to share their story with you.  Take time just to listen and ask questions, to understand their story.

Thank you, everyone, for participating in the first ever online class at LPC!  We've enjoyed reading your comments, encouragements, insights, and stories.  We'd love to gather again for a face-to-face meeting on Sunday, August 9th, at 12:30 p.m. in Room 305.  If you can't join us, consider writing us an e-mail about anything you'd like to share.  We'd love to hear any feedback about what you got out of the study, your online experience, or anything else!