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For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life (Romans 3:20-22).
For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men (1 Corinthians 7:22-23).
There is a battle for sovereignty that will never cease until the Lord frees you from your body of death. Until then, you have to wrestle with who has ownership of your life. The “slave analogy” is a good one, though it’s a trigger word in our woke culture. Think with me about the implications of Christian slavery.
Lord God bought you with the price of His dear Son. You do not belong to you, but another (1 Corinthians 6:20). How does that grab you? Think like a slave, but instead of a cruel taskmaster, your owner is amazingly sacrificial and sovereign.
As Sovereign Lord, He is the writer of your story. Think, slave again. That’s right; your story is not your story. Somewhere back in time, you decided to give up the rights to your story by giving the “pen” over to God. You came to that place where you asked Him to become the scriptwriter of your life.
Sometimes we Christians can act like impatient parents. When the child gives us something that does not meet our standards, we snatch the paper from the kid and say, “Give me that! Let me show you how to do it!” But in this case, we try to grab the pen and paper from the Lord while telling Him how we want things to go for us.
You may see this co-authorship worldview on the bumper of a car. The bumper sticker says, “God is my Co-Pilot.” It’s cute and a bit hokey, but worse, it’s sloppy theology. The Lord does not work for Uber, where you get to tell Him where to take you.
Most assuredly, you cooperate with Him. You can even make your plans, but never think that your strategies are His (Proverbs 16:9). You make them as best you know how, but you trust Him to direct how things will go. He is the scriptwriter. Your story is not your story. Are you okay with that?
When you turn on the television to listen to the news about your life, what is happening with you today? How are you? What are your temptations, troubles, or trauma? Perhaps today is one of those encouraging, human interest stories. Good for you. But I imagine for many of the folks in our community, the news is bleak.
For those of you in the middle of a sad saga, it will serve your soul well to know that what the Lord is scripting for you has a story arc that takes you to a happy ending. All good stories follow similar plot lines, and though you may not feel like you’re living in a good story, you are, and here are the four stages of your story.
There is a “simplicity on the other side of complexity,” but it’s a simplicity that comes after a great struggle, a few defeats, and even casualties of war. This “second simplicity” is also different in that it comes with maturity, gratitude, rest, and humility, and you won’t experience it without a battle.
It is crucial to be careful when you think about your storyline. The author has not finished writing, and the temptation would be to grumble about where you are in His plot. As you squirm in the theater while watching yourself on the giant screen, you may succumb to the temptations of grumbling, complaining, cynicism, and negativity.
Your responsibility to your slave owner is not to complain about your conditions. If you know Him the right way, you understand that He will take care of you no matter what. But He’s not obligated to provide you with all the things that you believe you need to be happy.
No loving parent would give their children everything they wanted when they wanted it, and how they expected you to provide it. That parenting model is doomed to failure, and though the childish person will be happy that they got what they manipulated out of you, they will disrespect you later.
Parents have to accept this truism: “You can love me now and hate me later, or you can hate me now and love me later.” Many adult children have come back to their parents decades later to express gratitude for not falling before the child’s manipulations.
Let me be clear: your story is God’s story, and He is moving the script to a conclusion that will not only be satisfying to you but it will be glorifying for Him. I trust you understand this truth. You must know that God is working for your good. But sometimes, we can find ourselves in that deep ditch between, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”
The most transformative reminder that you could ever recall daily is one of the most ancient truths that you know. Ironically, you do not need new truth in your times of trouble. You need a well-worn, well-used, old truth. Specifically, you need the gospel. Do you remember that story?
Here is a snapshot of the gospel: It pleased God to crush His one and only Son (Isaiah 53:10). It sounds horrific to the natural mind, and it is (1 Corinthians 2:14). But there is something more in-depth and profound about the suffering of Jesus Christ; it is the plan for our redemption.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:3-6).
You were born into sin, totally depraved, not inherently good, and prone to do evil, which is always as self-centeredness as its core (Ephesians 4:18-19). You, like me, needed a divinely inspired rescue. Christ is your redemption. The author of your story loved you so much that He became a sacrificing Redeemer.
Whenever I complain in an ongoing way about the story that God is writing for my life, I am selfish, and I need to change my mind about how I think about Him and my circumstances. For some of you, what I’m saying feels too hard or perhaps ungracious. Maybe you believe that you need to change and want to get to the other side of your complexity, but you can’t get there today.
If you’re in that unchangeable, painful place and feel as though the burden upon your back is too significant, then do this. Merely acknowledge your anguish of soul to God. I’m not telling you to change by becoming something that you can’t, and I’m not criticizing you for being stuck. I am warning you about a complaining spirit. Before you can index forward in your heartbreak, you have to have a heart of hope.
God is writing a phenomenal story of grace in your life. It is a heavenly story, and the real good news is that you do not have to wait until heaven to enjoy what He is doing for you. Start simply: talk to God, but not about changing your circumstances or your oppressors, but to give you a heart attitude that roots out any strains of bitterness.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).