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By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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May 25 in Musings
Once upon a time. That’s the classic way to begin a story, at least the fairy tale type. Once upon a time...something happened.  Lately I’ve been thinking about the idea that every one of us is living out a story. Our lives have beginnings, they have characters and plots and surprises and twists and turns and, of course, endings. It is true for every single one of us. 
One of my favorite things about being a pastor is that I get to hear the stories of people’s lives. When I sit down with a person I don’t know well, I often start with “Tell me who you are! Where did you come from, what has happened in your life?”  The answers are always fascinating. Like snowflakes, there are literally no two stories that are the same.
There’s a certain dichotomy involved in looking at life as a story. On the one hand, because of the great freedom God has given human beings, we have the power to choose or change some parts of our story. We can travel or lose weight or go back to school or change jobs or take up hiking or become better listeners. All of those things lie within our power and can change the story of our lives.
But there are other things we do not choose. We did not choose where we grew up or who was in our family. We certainly do not choose to live amidst difficulties like illness or a serious car accident or a devastating loss or a parent requiring care. We don’t choose those things, and yet they are part of our unique story.
This week I visited with a friend who recently was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and will probably die in the next weeks or months.  That is news he obviously did not want to hear, but it is the story he is living.  Another friend has health issues which are not life threatening, but chronic and serious. Her story will include how she deals with that for the rest of her life. The illness will not define her, but how she lives out her story will.
Thank goodness our stories are not lived in isolation. Our lives in the community of faith are hooked together, and they are connected to the bigger story God is writing. Donald Miller wrote a book back in 2009 called “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.”  In it, he writes “If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, enjoy your place in my story.”   Whenever we forget that our story fits into this much larger one, we remember “For God so loved the world...”  Once upon a time. And still.
See you soon,  
       Pastor Dan

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