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The Unseen Story

Adrian Patenaude

I've heard that stories are so entertaining to us mortals because they create a "best parts version" of human life. All the mundane, day-to-day stuff is cut out while the exciting bits are highlighted and arranged into a meaningful narrative. It's a reflection of our desire for life to matter, our hope that we made a difference – or at the very least, that we lived at all.  Stories show us the big picture and help us celebrate the journey of our existence. Then you close the book or the credits roll – and you go load the dishwasher. You start writing your annoying research paper or you hit snooze on the alarm that's been nagging you to get up for work. You dutifully accomplish the task of daily living. You file your taxes. Meanwhile, the myth of meaning fades from your conscience.

But later, inevitably, the desire surfaces again and you long for some sign that you have a story worth telling. Yet compared to the stories in books and movies, your life is a wasteland of wasted moments... and boring as all get out.

I'm right there with you.

I want my story to begin, my destiny to arrive. I want life to throw its best at me so I can start living the adventure. I don't mind the challenges – just don't make me wait here, silently, patiently.

I want to make every moment matter, like Jesus did.

Then I read this side comment in the story of Jesus: "Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry." (Luke 3:23)

Um, what was Jesus doing the first 30 years of his life?

The unseen story here is that before his three short years of ministry, Jesus was a carpenter. For the majority of his life, he did the unremarkable work of a manual laborer. For thirty silent, between-the-lines years.

But who's to say those years didn't matter? They didn't make it to the final draft of the story, but that season of hiddenness was probably preparing him for later ministry. Jesus humbled himself to the cross, yes. But first he humbled himself to the subtle, daily sacrifice of working a job. Perhaps those 30 years of practice provided the foundation that made his years of ministry so powerful. Either way, he submitted.

The unseen story certainly isn't glamorous.

But if Jesus made every moment matter, so can I.

What is your unseen story?