Have you ever watched the Oprah Winfrey Network television program “Where Are They Now?” If you haven’t, you are missing a great show. Oprah goes back in time to old interviews that she has done over the years and checks out what those people are doing now. There have been some great ones recently. For instance, I got to see how the Brady Bunch is doing now, how Lysa TerKeurst’s adopted boys are doing, what Jon and Kate plus eight are up to. There are just so many different interviews over the years, and it will take Oprah decades to get through all of those people!
This started me thinking (because television watching almost always gets my brain a-thinkin’), what happened to all those people in the bible that we hear about one time, then “poof” they are gone.
Who am I talking about you say?
Zacchaeus – Luke 19:1-10 – the small corrupt tax collector who climbed a Sycamore Tree to get a look at Jesus. Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home and the crowd was shocked. Zacchaeus gives half of his wealth to the poor and to all those he has cheated he gives back 4 times what he took from them. He basically bankrupts himself making restitution.
Mary and Martha – Luke 10:38-42 – Mary and Martha are the two sisters of Lazarus who are exact opposites of each other. Martha is the one who prepares the meal for Jesus, works constantly to make sure everything is perfect. Mary listens to Jesus. She just sits and takes it all in. While Martha is tending to all the work that needs to be done, Mary soaks up Jesus’ message in her heart. Martha becomes upset and Jesus rebukes her. We hear from these two one more time with Lazarus is resurrected from the dead, but then nothing more.
Rahab – Joshua 2, 6:22-23 – This brave prostitute harbored Israelites. She lived in Jericho near the wall. She courageously approaches the Israelites and tells them that God wants her to help them. Her bravery was rewarded and her family was spared. She has a direct lineage to David and Jesus – not many women can claim that.
Job – (Book of Job) – Oprah would be all over this story line. The man loses everything: his land, his children, his livestock, and his health. He conquers all of his struggles with his tremendous faith. After this he goes on to have more children, more land and more animals. Can’t you just see Oprah checking out how Job conquered all that and if he still trusts God?
Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37 – Alright so this is a parable, but I still would love to know what happen next. A Jewish man is robbed and left for dead (that just by itself is a news worthy story). The priest and the Levite just leave the man on the road. The Samaritan (who was despised back then) stops and takes care of the man. He bandages his wounds, he puts the man on a donkey, he takes him to an inn, and the Samaritan pays the bill. What happened to these two guys – the Samaritan and the Jewish man? You cannot tell me that you aren’t dying to know this? Did the priest and the Levite ever feel badly for leaving this man for dead?
Lydia – Acts 16:11-40 – Lydia was a wealthy business woman who continually helped Paul during his ministry. She definitely had a strong spirituality that seems to open her heart to God’s Will. She was the first convert to Christianity in Europe. After Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they went to the home of Lydia where they were surrounded by believers who encouraged them to get back to their ministry. Lydia was a pretty strong woman, and she seems live a savvy business woman which couldn’t have been common back then.
You see what I am saying? There are some rich stories in the bible that just kind of leave you hangin’. Wouldn’t you love the down and dirty on what is going on in their lives just a few years later?
Unfortunately, the bible doesn’t give us that which leads me to believe that God doesn’t want us to know that part of the story. Not because they become horrible people, but because that part of their life is private. God doesn’t always give us the “Where Are They Now?” story. He doesn’t need to.
Sure it would be great to know all the details of the rest of their life, but isn’t that what faith is all about? Maybe we are supposed to find a great plan for our own lives in the little details that the bible chooses to share with us. Maybe God wants us to take the story one step further in our own life, not just mimic the life we read about in the bible.
For instance, Lydia is a great example of a working woman. She holds her spirituality above all – she must have or Paul wouldn’t have come to her house for inspiration. When I am down and depressed from the exhaustion of ministry, I go to my peeps that lift me up. I go to my friend who inspires me to keep on pushing.
Job is a beautiful example of what faith looks like. God reminds us in the book of Job that following God does not hand us the perfect life. We must be strong even in the bad times – and there will be bad times.
The Good Samaritan reminds us that we should help everyone – not just our Christian brothers and sisters. We need to care and tend to all as Jesus would have done. What I love about this story is the Good Samaritan doesn’t just give the man a little assistance. He goes over and above for this man he doesn’t even know – and a man who probably has shunned him for being a Samaritan. Over the top faith is what the Samaritan shows us.
The bible gives us these little snippets of life from people so we can see that God can do anything through anyone. We can see the beauty of opening our hearts and minds to God’s Will. We can find encouragement from everyday ordinary people in the bible who did such great things for God that they found themselves amongst some of God’s greatest prophets.
There life journey after the story in the bible doesn’t matter, but the story does. The story is what we are supposed to reflect on, not the what happened next. So I am sorry to say that the Oprah “Where Are They Now?” bible version won’t be published anytime soon. God just want us to use these beautiful witnesses and allow them to change our very soul to remember Him each and every day.