Participating in My Story

I’ve mentioned before that I am part of a “Training Circle” with a group of 6 other men from my church. We meet once a month to sharpen and share our lives with each other.

Along with the regular things we do each month (read a book, memorize scripture, relational assignment with our spouse), the most memorable thing we do each month is share our stories.

As we rotate each month, by the end of the year each man will have gotten 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to share his story with the group specifically given to give the others access into his life.

Each man’s story has been unique. Each has been powerful.

It is my turn this month.

Photo credit: Colin Harris (Creative Commons)

I’ll be honest: I struggle with believing that I have a “good story”.

I grew up in a loving and supportive home. My parents have been happily married for over 30 years. A legacy of faith has been passed down for generations as my grandparents actively serve God and pray for us grandchildren. My siblings love Jesus and one is even in the ministry. I’ve been a part of youth groups, served in the church, participated in missions, and have been met by God many times in my short life.

God blessed me with a phenomenal campus ministry in college where I met my wife. We got married right out of school, have three beautiful daughters, and live a comfortable life in north Atlanta.

Really, I’m grateful.

But…

How can this seemingly “good” life be used to speak into someone else’s life? Hollywood would never green light my life into a major motion picture. It’s so bland. So boring.

That’s when it hit me. Well, that’s when God hit me (over the head).

Dustin, you are participating in My story. Your life story and experiences all point to my goodness.

While I don’t have any of the ‘extremes’ that have happened in my life, I am still an imperfect being. Like everyone else, I still need a Savior to rescue me. No matter how hard I try, I will always fail to meet God’s standard on my own. All the things I put before God will always fall short.

My pride.
My self-preservation.
My lustful eyes.
My greed.
My internal anger.

And remember those confessions I mentioned the other week? There still here and I’m still processing them. Confessing and laying them before God is hard, but necessary.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Today, I am grateful that our God is in the business of rescue. No matter how big or how small, He will reach down, meet us where we’re at, and pick us up and graft us into His Story.

::

Describe a time when God told/showed you “You are participating in My story.”

56 Comments

  • Michael

    June 24, 2011

    Nearly everyday man. I get the privilege of seeing Him move in people’s lives every day.

    Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      June 24, 2011

      I see His story in the lives of those I call as Family.

      As for me, *shrugs*, what can I really say? My history as a son and father is still being written, to one day be passed onto my daughters as legacy.

      Intentional legacy, I might add! :)

      Your story, Dustin, is not boring. If it was, I would have stopped reading it months ago.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 25, 2011

        thanks, donald. btw, i like that: intentional legacy. :)

        Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      so cool, friend.

      Reply
  • Arny

    June 24, 2011

    I’ve had a life simlar like your Dustin…

    I get it…i grew up in church…never drank, never got high, never smoked….but God has shown me that everone on this planet has an addiction….if it’s not To Christ…

    He has shown me that there is NO perfect “life” appearing on the outside of someone….they have “secrets” that no one will know about till the day of Judgement reveals it…

    that’s the truth…

    We all struggle with sin….(hidden sin) we all fight the spiritual battle…a rage in war…but If God is For us…who could be against us! Even sin has been Defeated!!!!

    Rejoice Dustin…we are forgiven sinners….the best kind…lol…

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Indeed! That “appearance” has been one that I’ve had to continually surrender to our Father. Thanks for sharing, Arny.

      Reply
  • mark

    June 24, 2011

    I think you are so blessed to have lived a life guided by the Lord and the prayers of the righteous. I really wish that my story was a lot more “bland”! I know in Christian circles it seems that the “badder” you were pre-Jesus, the more accolades you get…but there is a tragic downside to all this would-be hoopla. When I accepted Jesus (and what a glorious day that was!) Satan set his sights on the weak and unbelievers in my family. In three months I witnessed so much spiritual, and physical havoc, that for a brief period, I thought that my accepting Jesus may have been a mistake. If I told you all the things I experienced during that time, you probably would think that I should have been locked up! And in all reality it was a miracle I wasn’t locked up…or worse, dead.

    Just like David in the Bible- my sins may have been forgiven, however, these sins had severe repercussions and fallout. For in that short period of time- I lost almost everything I held dear. However, what I learned over the years is that God is in the restoration business and HE will restore all the years and things that the locust have eaten. Praise be to HIS Name!

    In closing, I want you to rejoice in your testimony for it bears witness to God’s protection and guidance over the righteous in HIS Name. And as you grow stronger in God’s Will for your life you will see that testimony grow exponentially in the lives, and testimony of your own children, and their children’s children. This is the greatest gift of all! You are part of a legacy. Rejoice in this my brother!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      wow, what a comment. Thanks mark for taking the time to type out your thoughts. i really appreciate it. thanks for sharing part of your story – i want to remember that, no matter the circumstances or whoever the person, God’s name will be glorified. thanks for encouraging me to ‘rejoice in my testimony’ – needed reminder. :)

      Reply
  • Loren Pinilis

    June 24, 2011

    A lot of times we don’t realize we’re participating in his story until we have a chance to look back. It’s only then that we can see how our actions have played out and led to fruit for the kingdom. In the moment, we just have to be faithful and keep plowing ahead.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Be faithful and keep truckin’! – thanks Loren! :)

      Reply
  • Moe

    June 24, 2011

    Dude, I triple fist pumped into the air so hard that I almost farted!

    Good life, comfortable living, good income and a loving heart will not get anyone into relationship with God. This is not a works-based end of life review, this is eternity given (say that word again) given (come on, one more time) given, to us sinners. We ALL have fallen short, always have, always will. Our best efforts are as dirty rags to God.

    On that note, I would love to hear more about your lustful eyes story. :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Are you sure you didn’t squeeze a little bullet out?

      >> “Our best efforts are as dirty rags to God.” – yes, oh yes.

      And, maybe on 7/8… or on a skype call…. or heytell…. wow, we might be a little too connected. :)

      Reply
  • Jim F

    June 24, 2011

    I remember getting ready to do one of the first Mission trips to do evangelism and the group that I was going with wanted a written copy of my testimony. I thought “what do I have to share that will make a difference in someone else’s life?” I wrote it out and shared it and people were drawn to God through it and God gently whispered in my ear at that point “Your story is about Me” and I got the point.

    Good thoughts Dustin.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      great example, thanks for sharing Jim. I had a similar experience in high school when i went on a trip to venezuela. i had to write out my testimony in spanish (and memorize it to a degree because i wasn’t that good :))…. it was pretty cool to see how it spoke to people at the time.

      Reply
  • Michelle

    June 24, 2011

    Whenever anyone wants to hear my testimony (mostly at church) I cringe. On the outside, I appear as you do Dustin. But on the inside, I feel so much like God has a lot of work to do. That’s what keeps me humble though. I’m not perfect and I will not be perfect until I meet my maker and I am seen for what I am. I once read in a book, the best we can give to God is our refrigerator art. I think the author was being too kind when he said that. You know how our kids make pictures and they are super proud of themselves for it, but really you don’t even know what it is, but you accept it anyway. That’s all we can give. It will never be anything better, but God loves us anyway. I guess we need to stop trying to think we are Rembrandt and remember what we really are without Christ redeeming us. Your testimony is more powerful than you know. Unlike you, I did not have the family legacy. That must be pretty awesome to have grandparents and siblings and parents that you can talk about God with. I envy you in that because my family has never walked with the Lord and my Mom was the one that did and now she isn’t here. Even when she was alive, we didn’t agree totally on theologies. But atleast I had something, you know? So I’m thankful that God is so full of grace as to give you a family legacy of Christ loving people. That’s amazing.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      thanks for sharing michelle – even though your mom isn’t with you right now, remembering her life and the impact that her faith had on you is something to hold on to. and, like me (and a lot of us here) we can look to demonstrate our faith to our kids. I think i forget sometimes that my story/testimony will speak into my own childrens’ lives as well. something else to think about, i guess. :)

      also, i think that illustration (about the fridge art) was in The Ragamuffin Gospel – when i read it last month, i believe that was it. :)

      Reply
  • Cindy Holman

    June 24, 2011

    Um – EVERYDAY! I know that I have a story and a testimony for hurting marriages and those that have had a betrayal from a trusted friend – or tempted to find encouragement from someone other than their spouse – I know – I’ve been there and have some wisdom and perspective of these issues that is unique to me. God has brought me through some HUGE hurts to better understand His plan and purpose for me – I don’t much like how it happened – but in spite of that – God is still speaking and creating my story.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      thanks for sharing cindy – you’re right. uniquely God can use each of us to speak into others’ lives. thanks for sharing that!

      Reply
  • Ryan Tate

    June 24, 2011

    This is my passion Dustin! Twice, I’ve gone through a discipleship training called “the Story-Formed Life” (SFL). And currently I am helping to lead that training with a new group of folks in our community. This truth is the first and most important truth we hit in SFL! This is not our story. God is the author of the story. We have to reailze this and get our paradigms changed in order to take our place within the context of His story. This training has been monumental for me, my family, and countless people in our community.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      really cool Ryan. i’m not familiar with SFL – is that a program that you’ve developed?

      Reply
  • Justin

    June 24, 2011

    This is excellent man….God is building you, even through what may appear boring to you.

    He whispers to me often, reminds me that something bigger is going on here – even in the routine, day to day stuff.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      God is big, for sure. Want/need to remember that God’s plan for my life is Big as well. Bro man, thanks!

      Reply
  • John

    June 24, 2011

    I am reminded constantly that my life is a part of His story. At church among the kids ministry, at my job with the teens – I have opportunities to share my story and point it all to God. And my story isn’t that scandalous either. But God still uses it.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Sweet. Thanks, John. –> God still uses it!

      Reply
  • Tony Alicea

    June 24, 2011

    Bro, that’s an awesome story. A story of God’s faithfulness. Sometimes the seemingly bland stories are the ones that can be the most life-changing. The thing is, people that have the crazy stories need to hear your story to believe that it’s possible. A lot of them hear that God is good and rewards those who diligently seek him but it isn’t until they see someone live it, that they can have hope for themselves.

    “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Rev 12:11 – forgot about that verse. Thanks Tony. I appreciate your encouragement.

      Reply
  • Jon

    June 24, 2011

    So…remember it’s not about the content. Bro, you have an amazing story..thanks for sharing it.

    Honestly, I had that “light-bulb” moment with God when I decided to share my story with other brothers in our small group. It was something that I had kept to myself and a very limited few for the longest time. But after I shared, I remember one of the guys coming up to me and saying that they really appreciated me sharing. That’s when I realized that this is so much bigger than me.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      awesome. like you mentioned, being vulnerable with others is step 1. thanks man!

      Reply
  • Julesmarie

    June 24, 2011

    Probably because for some people’s broken stories the only thing (people) that helps them are someone (examples) of steadiness…. You don’t lord your steadiness as a result of perfection or self righteousness – which is a beautiful blessing to those who will/do need your steadiness! Love you and your fam!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      cool perspective. thanks jules!

      Reply
  • I am His beloved

    June 24, 2011

    I love all the fist pumping and “Bro” references here! Masculine bonding makes me smile.(=
    Love your testimony and truth that all of us are in need of a Savior and saving. Spot on.
    More than that- something else struck me right through the heart- in fact, to tears and to action today. (For real)
    God moved hubby and I to the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. For two years we have not been able to find a strong church or any dynamic gracefilled small groups. The isolation is unbearable. What you described with you small group is exactly what I am searching for and what I need to keep going.

    We are in a remote farming town and there is just nothing out here, I’ve made the calls. Call me crazy but this may sound pathetic but I put in a craiglist post today after I read your post, to try to start or be part of a gracefilled, women’s Bible study. We shall see what happens…thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      June 24, 2011

      IAHB,

      Don’t let Moe fool you…he doesn’t need to fist-pump to fart.

      E-brothers–#yar!

      Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Julie, that is not crazy at all. Here’s proof: all in the span of 6 months (I’d say) there are people here on this blog community (not just this one, but others as well) that have gotten together, help each other accountable, prayed, Skyped, called, text’d, met up…. All through the internet? That’s crazy, right? Keep doing what you’re doing – God will bless you, no doubt.

      Reply
  • Jason Vana

    June 24, 2011

    I can’t begin to tell you how many college students have told me over the years that they just don’t have a good story, because they grew up following God their whole lives. They didn’t have to deal with addictions or running crazy or anything like that, and so their testimony feels…boring.

    But I personally believe that’s a more exciting testimony than someone who was crazy messed up and came to Christ. It’s harder to live for Christ than it is to come to Him.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Yup that was me in college. :) thanks for sharing and investing in young people’s lives, Jason.

      Reply
  • Duane Scott

    June 24, 2011

    I love that I too, get to be a part of His story.

    And maybe some day, He’ll write a chapter where you and I meet :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Oh, my friend, it WILL happen!

      Reply
  • Jason

    June 24, 2011

    My thing is wondering when the story He’s writing in me is going to move from big plot revisions to actually being told to others in a bigger way. :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Yeah those revisions can get tricky. :) Thanks Jason.

      Reply
  • seekingpastor

    June 24, 2011

    My story is bland like yours. I’ve not had much upheaval except for a period of depression. But I’ve never thought of it the way you have. I can still speak to people in bad situations that I have never endured because I can speak to them about the grandeur of God which is what everyone needs to hear.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Thing is, the grandeur of God never gets old, overtold, or boring. :)

      Reply
  • Jay Cookingham

    June 24, 2011

    I’m glad the Father has written me into the grandest story of them all! Great post bro’

    Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    June 24, 2011

    Years ago I was sitting in my room when a friend called me. He had some questions about God and although I didn’t totally know the answers, I tried to help him out. Later that day another friend called wanting to hang out. I wasn’t able to hang out with her and she seemed pretty bummed.

    It was after that phone call when something suddenly struck me, “People like me.”

    It was kind of a weird realiziation. Even today I fight the idea that no one likes me. I see my sin, my evil, and my own “confessions” and I see the way I’ve treated people in the past and who I am and I don’t understand why people like me.

    And yet they do. Lots of them. They want to spend time with me, tell me their stories, interact with mine, and experience the world with me. I don’t know where this started or how it happened. All I know is that God has been with me through all these times. He has always given me the right words to say, the shoulder to cry one, and the resources to make a difference in lives desperate for help.

    “People like me” means God is using me for part of His story, it’s the only reason that makes sense.

    It’s the only reason worth being liked.

    That’s my story, Dustin. Thank you for asking me to remember it. Now I need to pray awhile.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Thanks for sharing Alex – I think it’s cool that you realized that no matter what you were/are feeling, those things point to a greater Good (God is doing special things in our lives whether we see it or not). Really, thanks Alex.

      Reply
  • Danyen

    June 24, 2011

    Hmmm… I had one of those childhoods that could easily, and did, lead to me asking God why He could allow me to suffer x? Why did God not rescue me?

    Really, I had righteous reasons to be angry, but no right reason to target God with that anger. It took me years of wandering anger to realize that God had never hurt me. He had never caused the hurt.

    I still wanted to be angry with God for allowing the suffering. Then I began to realize that, while God had never hurt me, I had lived a life of hurting him and my fellow man.

    God never actually wronged me. I blamed God for the wrong others did. In turn I wronged God.

    I realized this, changed my attitude towards God, and my life began to change. I need to realize that, while I had been begging God to rescue me, I had at the same time been in active rebellion against Him.

    Thank God he is loving and patient, and willing to walk us through such things.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Oh how He is more loving and patient than we’ll ever know! Thanks for sharing your story, Danyen. I look forward to connecting more.

      Reply
  • Louie

    June 24, 2011

    Hey D. You know, I had the same type of testimony. Not a lot of “shock value”. But you know, God uses our lives to minister to families. But know, we are all sinners, in need of savior, regarless of the path we’ve been placed on or have taken.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      thanks Dad. thanks for always showing me (and living that out) that.

      Reply
  • Brandon

    June 25, 2011

    Thanks for the reminder today!

    Reply
  • Joseph

    June 25, 2011

    Yes, I know exactly how you feel Dustin. OVer the years I’ve heard testimonies that would open the flood gates in anyone’s eyes. They were so powerful you couldn’t help but cry. And it can make you jealous that you don’t have that. But like you, God had to show me that he has blessed me with a life that can help show others that you can live strong for God and not be of this world. I’m thankful that God has blessed me with such a great life. Our life’s point to his goodness! I like that! Good stuff.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      June 25, 2011

      Thanks Joseph … we’re similar in a lot of ways it seems. :) I appreciate your encouragement!

      Reply
  • farouk

    June 26, 2011

    Great way of thinking Dustin
    with such a positivity i think you can get over any problem you face
    keep it up :)

    Reply

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