Dear Donald Miller, You set me up.

This weekend I lied to our congregation.  It wasn’t on purpose.  I was telling the part of your story I knew.  And well, I only told them the part I knew and I was missing what Paul Harvey used to call, “…the rest of the story.”  I told them that in your reluctant search for your father you discovered that he was dead.  I shared with them that by starting the search you began to live a better story.  So this weekend you illustrated one of the contrarian impulses that may come to us when we start living the Gospel by the Spirit of God: to include the mess-ups in a new family story.

Its Advent, and we launched our series with Matthew 1:1-18.  Yes, its the list of names,   the genealogy of Jesus, and I read every name.  His family tree includes the stories of wonderfully messy characters.  Abraham, David, Bathsheba, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and a slew of wicked kings.  Jesus’ family list of the “bad” among the “good” shocks our desire to hide what we believe to be our shame.  From Matthew’s perspective the genealogy of Jesus is the genesis of a new family and a new kingdom shaped by grace (Matthew 1:1).

The Gospel compels us to do something different, something contrary to our impulse to hide.  Instead of hiding the past, we redeem the past by God’s grace.  God is faithful.  Now we know He is working through the messes of sinful people to accomplish His plan and purposes.  While life in its current and painful construction creates a deep longing for family and for noble leaders our disappointment with reality may compel us to hide from truth and ignore the reality of our fallen families. And that hiding only creates more pain.  But grace creates a new impulse:  the impulse to include the mess-ups of our lives in our story and in our family story.  Jesus did it, and He is the grace for it.  You know this and have profoundly illustrated it in your writing.

And so, I told your story as you have told it in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years… and as far as I had read in the previous week.  So I didn’t know that “rest of the story” until I finished reading your book last night.  Like a good story teller you set me up… and for that I’m really glad.

Now our contrarian Advent adventure continues… and I get to tell the rest of your story and the search for your father this Sunday as Origin gathers to explore the rest of the  Jesus-story in the Matthew 1:18-25.  Thank you!  I’m glad you set me up, because you  showed  me that sometimes God surprises us and the void in our heart gets filled up by grace.  There can be a surprising “rest of the story.”

Merry Christmas Donald, and by His grace may we all live a better story.





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