Messy Pages Make Beautiful Masterpieces

Sharon Jaynes
Sharon Jaynes | Proverbs 31 Ministries

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’”

John 4:39 (NIV)
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Everyone loves a good story. But not everyone likes their own story.

I wouldn’t have written my childhood story the way it now appears on the page.

Instead, I would have had a daddy who loved me, a momma who cherished me, and a big brother who was my best friend. We would have spent holidays eating turkey, weekends playing board games, and quiet moments before bed saying good-night prayers. But that’s not the story I got.

In adulthood, I would have had a passel of children, a calendar overbooked with after-school activities, and walls full of picture-framed little ones all grown up. But that’s not the story I got.

And to be honest, sometimes I struggle with wanting a different story.

I think we’ve all looked at our lives and wanted to rip a few pages from the narrative. But it’s difficult to understand a story if there are missing chapters. Each chapter helps explain why characters are the way they are — why you and I are the way we are. We can’t tear out a page or skip a chapter and still make sense of our story. But we can learn to embrace our story and trust God to keep writing our story into His.

The Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well didn’t like her story at all. Rather than gathering water in the cool of the morning or evening, she went in the heat of the day to avoid the other women who met at the well. Why? She likely felt thrown away by her five previous husbands, and ashamed that she wasn’t married to the man she was currently living with. (John 4:18) She may have even been the talk of the town. Hers was not a good story.

But Jesus came to change all that. It started with His question to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7, NIV). And it ended with an astounding revelation, which Jesus had not spoken to another soul: “I, the one speaking to you—I am he [the Messiah]” (John 4:26, NIV). She dropped her water pot on the ground and ran into town to tell everyone about this new chapter in her story.

When we drop our “water pots” filled with anger, shame, condemnation, regret and bitterness, the Living Water cuts a trail in the dust and sends us on a new course for life.

What’s your story? Whatever it is, I’m guessing there are pages you wish you could rip out of the narrative. I’ve never met a soul who didn’t. But what I want to tell you is that the whole of it matters. Every crossed-out word. Every worn-thin erasure. Every ripped-out page. You can have a better story, even with marred pages included. You can change the ending of your story, just like the Samaritan woman, even if it feels like you’re trapped in a chapter that has come to a dead stop.

We can grasp redemption from the jaws of brokenness and allow God to use our brokenness for good.

That’s what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at the well. And then she shared her story for others’ good and God’s glory. By running to town rather than hiding, by telling of her encounter with Jesus, she led many to believe. John wrote: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him [Jesus] because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did’” (John 4:39).

It may be hard to believe that it’s possible for God to use your pain for a purpose if you’re still living through a bad story. But don’t give up hope.

I have experienced it and witnessed it in the lives of others: God takes the hard things and uses them to showcase His mercy, grace and forgiveness to create a new beginning. Yes, our worst chapters can become God’s best miracles. Our pain can become a portal of God’s grace. Our ravaged pages can become God’s redemptive masterpiece.

Heavenly Father, I trust that Your pen never slips when it comes to writing my story. Help me to give You the messy pages and the broken stages and not to cling to them with an unrelenting hand. I trust You to make beauty from ashes in my life. Give me the courage to tell others about what You have done in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

FOR DEEPER STUDY

At some point today or this week, go back and read John 4. Note the transformation of the woman from the beginning to the end of the story. What do you think made the difference? How has meeting Jesus changed you?

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