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People love stories. It’s the oldest form of teaching, stories through song and word, picture and action, told to every new generation. Meant to teach, to impart wisdom, and to remind every child that they too have a place in a larger story.

Our Holy Bible is a book of stories, our songs are stories, and how did Jesus teach? In story. What do math teachers love to do? Put their math in a story. If Jimmy has 4 watermelons and two cantaloupes and drops them from a 40 ft tall building, how many stripes are on Jimmy’s shirt? Stories make learning less painful. They engage us on a deeper level, and they invite us in to the journey. They help us remember.

There’s a few people who know this deeply, and even take advantage of it to make a living. The songwriter is always thinking in stories. The preacher? He mines the stories in his life for wisdom to share. Writers, moviemakers, artists – they’re always on the look out for the stories weaving through their lives so they can capture the magic in them and share it with others. But this way of seeing things isn’t just beneficial for the storytellers, it holds a profit for each of us. There’s a present in this perspective for you, waiting to be unwrapped and discovered.

What is the narrative of your life? What act are you in? How would you describe the part of the story you’re in? And what if you could zoom out for a minute, and take a look at the bigger picture? You might see that this chapter really isn’t as long as it feels. You might find that the pieces God is stringing together speaks a more beautiful truth than you could imagine from the page you’re stuck on now.

Good stories have 3 acts, and act 2 is the long, boring one. It’s the getting from point A to point B, from the problem to the victory. It’s where the hero struggles, where he falls and falls again, and where he has to navigate a lot of problems and obstacles to become the hero he is in act 3. And this is true in a lot of different parts of our lives – we spend most of life in the middle somewhere – between the problem and the victory. And we know for the most part who we want to be – the guy that gets the girl, the girl who’s incredible beauty finally is seen, the one who overcomes every obstacle to save the world. We get stuck in act 2 though, bogged down in the mire and muck of the middle. But here’s the secret – you can’t skip act 2. It makes for a lousy story, and frankly, the ending will never happen without the victory that is birthed through the pain of the middle. The magic is in act 2, when we learn to look past the long lonely middle of our stories and become who we need to be for act 3.

So whatever part of the story you’re in, remember a few things.

1. Look for the magic where you are – ask God to show you what He’s stirring up in you through your current circumstances. Stop fighting the season you’re in, and start partnering with God who sees the entire story.

2. Don’t compare stories – the middle of your story doesn’t look anywhere as good as the end of someone else’s. You have no idea what God is writing in their lives or what chapter they’re on, so stop comparing. It is absolutely possible to find the beauty in your story as well as the beauty in theirs.

3. This chapter ends – no matter how long it seems to be, know that it will end. God is always moving you along, calling you forward and farther than you’ve been. He’s not going to leave you in this part of the story.

4. Connect your story to God’s – it’s impossible to separate His story from yours. He hasn’t missed a moment, and He’s using your story to tell others about His love. Look for the ways that His voice echoes in your story, and pay attention. Fill your mind with His story and keep your eyes on His face.