The Wondrous Stories We Live
By: Tom Norvell

Vol. 17 No. 14 | April 6, 2015

As I wait for the light to change I saw the man selling papers. I see him in the same location on a regular basis. He always smiles a friendly smile. He always waves a friendly wave. He walks along the line of cars then turns around and comes back to his original station. What was his life like before he came to sell papers on the street? Where is his family? Do they know he is on the street? Do they care? I wonder about his story.

She comes into the sanctuary just as we are beginning each week. She sits in the very back, near an exit. She seems to know most of the songs we sing and appears to enjoy the time in the assembly. But as we are singing the invitation song she quietly slips out unnoticed. I wonder about her story.

If I were to describe him I would use words like rugged, strong, hard, and calloused. None of those would refer to his physical appearance, but his demeanor. My impression is that if I were to ask him about his life he would say something like, “Oh, I’ve been around.” That would be it. His answer would be saying, “I doubt you really want to know my story.” But, I do. I wonder about his story.

He comes to church with his parents. He sits with them and stays pretty close to them before and after. Occasionally one of the other children will approach him and invite him to play with them. He always declines and stays close to his mother. He does not really appear to be afraid, but he is not confident enough to venture away. I later learn that he is adopted. I was already wondering about his story, now I wonder about it even more.

Her parents' marriage crumbled when she was very young. Most of her life has been spent going from one parent to the other. Two sets of grandparents. Two different homes. Juggling the holidays and summer vacations. Always trying to be the good girl that never caused trouble. Now, in her late teens, she tries to find her way through the world and tries to discover who she is. When we have talked she has a look in her eyes that says she wonders where this life she has lived is going to lead and she wonders who she will be when her story comes to an end. I, too, wonder about her story and where her life will take her.

She is just a child. She is sweet. She is innocent. She is loved and nurtured and protected and nourished by the best parents anyone one could ever ask for. She has a vivid imagination and an abundance of energy. I watch her and I marvel at the story God is weaving with her, for her, and through her.

He was in his early twenties when I met him. He was troubled. He was angry. He acted tough and wanted everyone to think he was tough. Getting beyond the walls of his heart required something I did not have. We spent some time together and I did what I could, then he disappeared. I often wonder about where he is, how he is, and if he is. I wonder if he has ever been able to make sense of his story.

As I wonder about these people, I am in awe that God has allowed me to have a glimpse into their lives. For some I have played a minor role in their story. For others I have had a greater influence, just as they have influence me. They have all touched me, and challenged me, and blessed me, and opened the eyes of my heart to remind me there is more — much more — to this life than I can see. They have all reminded me that there is more — much more — to this life than me.

We all have a story. Although we may sometimes wonder about where our story is leading, or how it is being written, and why it has not taken on a different theme, we do not need to wonder about one thing: He has always been involved, graciously shaping us into the image of His Son.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29, NIV)


© Copyright 2015 Tom Norvell. All rights reserved.