TITLE: FOUR STORIES: Part 2


INTRODUCTION

Please read the first part of this devotional “FOUR STORIES: Part 1” posted to this site on September 30, 2009 before reading Part 2.

Bruce sensed the uneasiness in the room. He felt somewhat embarrassed and ashamed at the excitement he had been experiencing just a moment ago in anticipation of ‘confronting’ each of them with what he had classified in his mind as mistakes in their stories. He slowly stood up and said, “Each of you loved Diane as much as I did. We may have all loved her differently, but we all loved her very much.”

“So what do you mean by ‘subtle difference’?” Ruth asked.

Bruce cleared his throat. He decided he should come clean. “I know what I have been thinking for the last couple of weeks. But being with you here today, seeing the love we all share for Diane, I am not really sure what I meant. I think the best thing I can do is to try to explain myself.”

“It’s OK dad. Just tell us what is on your mind.” Travis added.

Bruce sat back down with his notes in front of him and started to explain himself. “I can’t tell you how much each of these stories has meant to me. I learned things I never knew about Diane. I can honestly say I know her better now than I did the day she died. Each of you, from your own perspective, revealed aspects and events from Diane’s life that helped me to get a more complete picture of who she really was.

But as I read and reread the stories, I started to notice some differences in the accounts of events that overlapped in two or more stories. There were three major things I noticed in parallel accounts of the same event. First, when Diane or others were quoted, the wording did not exactly match. Second, there were times the order of events were different. And third, some accounts contained details or events that were completely missing from the other accounts.”

Annie spoke up at this point. “Bruce, I understand what you are saying. But really, the fact that some of us noticed different details or included more or less of what happened, is that really a discrepancy?”

Bruce smiled. “You are exactly right Annie. The fact that items were included or excluded from some accounts is just a matter of prioritization, relevance and perspective. I resolved that one pretty quickly.”

“Then what about the other two issues dad?” Travis asked.

“Well, I think the best thing I can do is give an example.” Bruce opened his binder to a page he had marked in his story. “There are many examples of events that show up in some stories, but not in others. The day Diane and I got married, Annie, Ruth and I were all there. Ruth and I both included references to that day. Annie did not.” Bruce turned to Travis, “And of course, Travis didn’t mention that day because it happened before he was born. But the best example of the three items I mentioned before is from last Thanksgiving.” Bruce looked down at the tear stained page in front of him. “Every one of us wrote about that day. As a matter of fact, that was the last time we were all together before the funeral.”

A sudden knock on the conference room door startled all four of them. Sara, Bruce’s assistant, stuck her head in the door, “Sorry to interrupt. Lunch is here.”

“Thanks, Sara.” Bruce said in a low voice. “Is anyone ready to eat?” Everyone shook their heads no. “Please just leave it on the hall table. And thanks for coming in on Saturday. You can go ahead and leave. I’ll see you on Monday.”

Bruce refocused on the words in front of him. He picked up his binder and started reading. “As the pumpkin pie was being served, Diane stood up and shared what was on her mind. ‘I have traveled over much of this world. I have had the opportunity to see and do many wonderful things. But the happiest and most meaningful moments of my life have been spent with you, my family and friends.’ It seemed the entire house grew quiet when she spoke. Then suddenly, Dee (Annie’s five year old granddaughter) spilled a half-full (or in this case, a half-empty) glass of milk as she reached for a cookie. Everyone burst into laughter.”

Annie quickly started turning pages. “Wait a minute. I wrote about that too. But I know that Dee spilled the milk just before Diane said that.” She found the page she was looking for. Annie started reading her account, “As I reached across the table to hand Dee a chocolate chip cookie, she accidently knocked over her glass of milk. Dee was on the verge of tears; but thankfully everyone at the table started laughing. And although Diane made her living making speeches, she rarely did so in her home. But she wasn’t one to let an opportune moment pass by either. My beautiful sister stood up quietly and raised her glass, ‘I’ve traveled for most of my life. I’ve traveled to many different countries. And on these travels, I’ve had many wonderful adventures. But truly, the happiest and most meaningful occasions in my life have been spent with you, my dear family and friends.’ That is different.” Annie said.

“No it’s not.” Travis said. “You both said exactly the same thing. You just used slightly different words. I didn’t even mention mom’s ‘speech’. I was sitting next to Dee. I was tickling her just before she spilled the milk. I was sitting there feeling guilty.” Travis opened his binder. “Here it is.” Travis started reading, “As cute as she was, I always enjoyed messing with Dee. I was tickling her when she suddenly reached across the table and knocked over her milk. I felt my face turn red. Mom was standing across the table from me. She was saying something I didn’t really hear, but she saw just what happened. She looked at me and smiled. Then everyone started laughing. My embarrassment was turned into laughter and happiness as mom walked around the table to hug both me and Dee. Mom always had a way of making things better.”

Ruth had sat there quietly and listened to everything that was said. “Don’t you all realize the beautiful portrait you just painted of the woman we love? You all shared your perspective on the same event. Bruce, you saw her as your wife. Annie, you were looking at her from the perspective of a proud older sister. And Travis, you missed the speech, but received a loving smile from the mother you adore. I was there. I don’t even have to read my story. You each captured it brilliantly. I may have had a word or two different. Who cares? I am not really sure at this point when Dee spilled the milk. Again, who cares? We all saw and experienced the same thing. A beautiful woman that loved each of us that shared what was on her heart.”

They all sat there silently for what seemed like a very long time. Each was reflecting on the significance of how Diane had shared her love for her family and friends in that moment. It wasn’t the words she used; it was the meaning of what she said that was beautiful and true.


SCRIPTURE

Focus Verse: Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but is shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Additional Verses: Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 1:17-19


DISCUSSION

Isaiah 55:11 makes clear to us that God’s Word will accomplish what God intends. And God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). So, how do you effectively present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to over six billion hearts? How do you touch the hearts of men and women, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free people?

God has shown us. He told the absolute truth in each of the four Gospels. But he used different wording, perspectives, etc. to accomplish his purpose. Galatians 3:28 tells us that regardless of who we are or where we come from, if we believe, we are one in Jesus Christ. The wisdom of men would tell us that slightly different words or perspectives would equate to inconsistencies. Yet God’s Word tells us that he shall destroy the wisdom of the wise and that to us that are saved, the preaching of the cross is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:17-19).

Additionally, just as Bruce learned much more about his wife by reading the other three stories, we learn more about Christ by reading the four Gospels. There is a clear, consistent truth that runs through each of the Gospels (Jesus Christ, God in the form of man, came to earth and lived a sinless life, died for our sins, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is the only way to salvation). Thank God for the four Gospels and the beautiful portrait of Christ and His love they paint for us.

By the grace of God and the truth of the Gospels we know what matters is not the exact wording, but the absolute truth of the consistent message taught in the four Gospels (and the entire Bible). I believe it is legalistic (treating the doctrines or preferences of man as the commandments of God) to get hung up on the exact wording God uses to spread His message. It is the intent and the absolute truth of God’s Word that matters.


PRAYER

Father in Heaven, may I trust in Your Word and rest in Your Truth. As you draw me closer, I pray that I will abandon earthly wisdom and trust the Holy Spirit to lead me to an understanding of Your Message. You are my Lord. I am Your servant. I submit myself in obedience to Your Will. In the name of Jesus, Amen.