Robert McKee put down his coffee cup and leaned onto the podium. He was addressing his screenwriting class, of which author Donald Miller was a participant. McKee, the guru of all Hollywood screenwriters, was explaining the way the characters in a story change.
“You have to go there. You have to take your character to a place where he just can’t take it anymore…Writing a story isn’t about making your fantasies come true. The whole point of the story is the character arc. You didn’t think joy could change a person, did you? Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over. But it’s conflict that changes a person.”
His voice was like thunder now. “You put your characters through hell. You put them through hell. That’s the only way we change.”
All of us face crises that that either cause us to change or become even more steadfast in our ways. Please join us in today’s daily Bible conversation as we learn from one man who changed—and how you can change, too.
*Excerpt from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller (2009, Thomas Nelson), 180.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13. King Sennacherib of Assyria arrogantly claimed that his god was bigger than Judah’s God. Big mistake. Assyria’s military disaster and Sennacherib’s murder are recorded in secular history.
The water supply mentioned in 32:3 was later called Hezekiah’s tunnel—evidence of the tunnel exists to this day.
Although King Hezekiah struggled with pride at one point during his reign, he humbled himself and repented. After David and Solomon, Hezekiah ranks as Israel’s third greatest king.
Romans 15:23-16:9. Chapter 16 is a window into the role of women in the early church:
- Phoebe (verse 1) is described as a “servant” of the church in Cenchrea. The word “servant” can also be translated “deaconess.” In fact, Greek nuances of the word leave a high probability that she served in a role of church leadership.
- Priscilla (verse 3) is listed before her husband Aquila. In the culture at that time, the more prominent person is listed first. Interestingly enough, in the seven references to them in the New Testament, Priscilla is mentioned first six of those times! This gives us an indication that Priscilla was sat least an equal member this husband and wife ministry team.
- Junia (verse 7) was listed alongside Andronicus as “outstanding among the apostles.” A great deal of debate has ensued regarding Junia, because this implies that Junia was an apostle.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Change—true change—never comes easily for any of us. And anyone who says it’s easy is lying.
Manasseh was as evil as his father Hezekiah was good. He reversed Judah’s godly spiritual climate to the point that God brought judgment on Manasseh. So God sent the King of Assyria to conquer Judah and take Manasseh prisoner. In a sign of utter humiliation, the king ordered that a hook be placed in Manasseh’s nose.
But Manasseh’s heart wasn’t completely hardened against God. We read,
In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers (2 Chronicles 32:12).
Manasseh repented and renewed the spiritual reforms of his father and Judah was delivered from the Assyrians.
Why do we so often wait until the point of desperation before we repent?
I wonder what our lives would be like if we viewed every painful or frustrating experience as an opportunity to lean into Jesus.
Paul wrote, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” If God has begun a good work in us, and that good work involves change, and we only truly change as a result of pain, frustration, hell—then pain and frustration aren’t the enemy.
Now pain and frustration almost always change us, either for better or worse. In Manasseh’s case, he could have become embittered by the pain and humiliation he endured. But instead he allowed it to direct him to God.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- How has God used pain and frustration to change you?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.