A Confusing Story

“Will you leave people trying to unravel your life to determine who you really were, and what you were really all about? Make no mistake about it.  You have a life story.  Just as your father and grandfather before you” (Guard Your Heart, Rosberg, p. 38).

So many people end up leaving behind a confusing or contradictory life story. One man, in particular, who has left us a little baffled is King Solomon. Here is an individual who started out so strong in life, who was so humble and obedient to God that he was given tremendous and abundant blessings (1 Kings 3:9-13), yet seems to have stumbled near the end of the race. “For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4). His life story was so inconsistent, in fact, that he was used by successive generations as a warning against unfaithfulness. “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin” (Nehemiah 13:26). In this wise king’s affairs we find the depths of foolishness. In his splendorous living, we find waste and opulence. His blessings became his curse. We are left perplexed by him, not comforted, just as with many other Bible characters who seem destined to defeat themselves with contradictory life stories. Adam, Gideon, Samson, Saul, Uzziah,  and many others often leave us in doubt about their overall success as men of God.

The problem with this kind of life story is that it can be very destructive to people around us. Such stories cause some people to become discouraged, thinking, “Well, if they could not remain faithful, what hope or chance do I have?” Especially when we hear about preachers, elders, deacons, or their families who fall away, these contradictory stories may cause stumbling. For example, Paul seemed highly discouraged by the apparent spiritual failure of a man named Demas (Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:10). In hindsight, we may have to wonder about our own life stories:

“Did I stand up for sound doctrine all my life, right until the last few years when I began deviating further and further from my ideals?”

“Was I a faithful spouse through thick and thin, during the toughest years when we had no money and several small children, but gave in to temptation when the trials passed?”

“Did I go to church all those years, put on a good show, participate in every way, and then go off the deep end with no rhyme or reason?”

“Was I given all the spiritual opportunities in the world, like a great preacher, great congregation, great spouse, yet misused them?”

Hidden Life Stories

One writer noted, “Identify any current aspect of your life which is ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ and which you would regret others finding out about after your death.  What must you do about it immediately in order to be living honorably, openly, and sincerely?  Commit now to doing what you know you must do” (Rosberg p. 42).