Have you ever turned on the television and found yourself in the middle of a movie? You don't know the characters, setting, time period or plot. You try to pick up a story line to make sense of the various scenes, but you can't figure out what's going on.
Is this similar to how you see your life? You were born into the middle of a story. What is the plot? Who writes your life script? How does it end?
It's not supposed to turn out this way
Rachel and her husband live by a script they learned when they were young. They worked hard, saved for the future, and raised a family in a suburban home. But things aren't working out the way they expected. They didn't plan for health problems or an adult child facing the devastation of divorce.
Rachel worries about the economy and how the money is getting a little tight. She's distressed by a constant barrage of bad news on radio and television. Her husband seems withdrawn, and the spark has gone out of their marriage.
Even though Rachel isn't a churchgoing person, she is becoming concerned about the immorality in society and the increasing uncertainty of life. She asks her Christian friends if they think we are entering the apocalyptic last days foretold in Bible prophecy. Their answers don't seem to give any real hope. Her story wasn't supposed to work out this way.
Everyone has a story, of course. In many ways each story is different. Whether you are male or female determines various aspects of your life. Your family background, various talents, your shape and size, where you live—all these factors combine to make your life script unique.
But the overarching truth is that all of our individual stories are part of a greater story. Your life is a thread in a great tapestry that tells the story of us. This narrative began before you were born and extends into your future.
The beginning of your story
To understand how your life fits in this great human narrative, let's start at the beginning: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
American King James Version×).
Human beings are different from any other creation. We were created in the image of God. You probably haven't thought of yourself as being made in the image of God. So at this point you might be saying, "My life's a failure. How can I be in the image of God?" Or, "With all my problems and unhappiness it's a joke to say that I'm made in God's image."
What you need to realize is that you are a damaged image of God. The only way you can ever experience spiritual healing is to first understand where your life fits in the greater story, comprehend why you were born, and accept how you became damaged. Only then can you turn to God, who can make you whole again.
Let's look at five ways you were created in God's image:
1. You have the ability for self-conscious thought or reason. You know you exist, and you want to find meaning in your existence.
2. You have the ability to experience joy, empathy, grief, sorrow and other unique emotions.
3. You have imagination and creativity—the ability to think in abstract concepts and create art, architecture, literature, music, build machines, do mathematics and study science.
4. You have free will, which is the ability to make decisions.
5. You were created to interact and share life with God and with other human beings. You are designed to live in intimate relationships with others.
Repairing our damaged state
According to Genesis, the first human beings were totally dependent on God. They were happy. There was no strife or violence. But something caused them to change. They then became spiritually, emotionally and mentally damaged. They became fearful and learned anger, hatred, greed and sorrow.
Just like those first human beings, you were created for a divinely ordained purpose, but in your damaged state you are unfit for that purpose. The message of the whole Bible, reflected in the gospel of Jesus Christ is about how you can be restored to your God-designed purpose.
Let's look at the five ways you were made in the image of God and see how each of us is a marred image.
1. Reason. Every human attempt to solve the world's problems and create an equitable society has failed. Every government, every religion, every ideology has failed. Listen to what God said though the prophet Isaiah:
"Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:6-9 Isaiah 55:6-9  Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
American King James Version×).
At the core of every human being is a faulty reasoning process. You will never experience spiritual healing until you accept God's ways instead of following a flawed way of thinking that seems right and natural to you.
2. Emotions. Human beings are filled with all kinds of negative emotions that aren't aspects of God's nature—destructive anger, hatred, envy, strife, arrogance and jealousy. At the core of who you are is a faulty emotional process that can't be trusted.
The prophet Jeremiah was inspired to write: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings" (Jeremiah 17:9-10 Jeremiah 17:9-10  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
American King James Version×). Your emotions deceive you into self-destructive decisions.
3. Imagination and creativity. Human beings take the wonderful creative energies God gave us and all too often produce war, oppressive governments and arts that degrade civility. At the core of who you are is a faulty system of imagination and creativity. Until you face how damaged you really are you will continue to use your creativity to hurt yourself and those you love.
4. Free will. Human beings continue to make bad decisions in spite of the destructive consequences. At the core of every human being is a faulty system of decision-making based on wrong motivations and goals.
5. Relationships. Human beings are relationship-oriented beings, yet we continue patterns of behavior that destroy our ability to have close, intimate, meaningful relationships. At the core of every human being is a faulty concept of how relationships work—including our relationship with God, our marriages and interaction with children, parents, friends and coworkers.
We are all damaged people. All of our stories are similar to Rachel's story. She didn't think her story would be like it turned out. You would have never written cancer, poverty, a broken marriage or alcoholism into your life script.
How you can be healed
To really understand where you fit in the greater tapestry of human history, you must know the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This story is not a myth. It is the beginning of your story, my story, our story.
The first human beings had a wonderful relationship with their Creator and with each other. What happened to change their lives?
God told them not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was impressing on them the fact that as the Creator of life He knows how life works and establishes boundaries of behavior that are good for life. Living in accordance with these boundaries, or moral laws, produces happiness and peace.
Yet God allowed Satan to influence the children created in His image. Satan didn't sneak into the garden and surprise God. Free will is the ability to make decisions. And in coming to learn the difference between good and evil, Adam and Eve would have to choose between good and evil—and God would allow the choice to come right away.
Many people not only relegate Adam and Eve to mythology, but they also deny the reality of the fallen angel the Bible calls Satan. This is a dangerous thing to do. Satan is a real being. Whether you believe in his existence or not, he has played an important part in your life story. (See our Bible study aid booklet Is There Really a Devil?)
Satan told Eve, "God knows that in the day you eat of it [the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5 Genesis 3:5For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
American King James Version×).
Eve, and then Adam, ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They rejected God as the source of knowledge and took upon themselves the right to determine what produces good results and what produces bad results. The outcome was a change in their nature. Their reason, emotions, creativity, free will and relationships became damaged, and they served a new god named Satan—a god who did not love them as a Father, but hated them as inferior beings.
You were born into a story filled with lies. The crime, poverty, unhappiness, abortion, addictions, broken marriages and damaged lives of our world are the result not of God's ways but of Satan's rule over humanity.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth: "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×).
Adam and Eve's story is the opening scene of our collective story. Satan is the god of this age. Because of Satan's influence in the world, you have unwittingly absorbed aspects of his nature into your life. Much of your reason, emotions, creativity, free will and relationships reflect characteristics of Satan's values, not God's.
God's ultimate purpose for your life
God wants to save you and restore you to your original purpose. Contrary to what you may have heard, salvation is more than just intellectually accepting Jesus. Salvation is re-creation. It is God restoring you to His image so that you can have a relationship with Him as your Father and Jesus Christ as your Brother. The astonishing truth of the gospel that is seldom told from the pulpit is this: God is creating a family to live with Him forever.
If you want to become a child in God's family, it means that you can't keep living life by your own rules, making the same decisions, ending up in the same bad consequences and going to church once in a while and pretending that God is changing your life. Repentance means to turn to God, to change your mind and to walk a different path. Christianity without deep, personal repentance is not real Christianity. There are plenty of "believers." What Jesus Christ wants are dedicated disciples.
This means that if you want to be healed from your broken marriage, destructive addictions, meaningless sexual encounters, anxieties and fear, you're going to have to allow God to change both your behaviors and thinking patterns that led you to your present condition. Too many times, what we want is to write our own life's script, following a plotline of tragedy, and then expect God to just fix the bad consequences.
God will rewrite your life story, but you first must grasp the reality of your spiritual and emotional damage, be willing to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and be willing to submit to God's re-creation.
How God will restore you
Let's review the five ways you were made in the image of God and see how God wants to restore you to your original purpose.
1. Reason. As mentioned, at the core of every human being is a faulty reasoning process. You will never experience spiritual healing until you accept God's ways instead of following a faulty way of thinking that seems right and natural to you. God wants to teach you to give up selfish thinking for outgoing thinking, short-term thinking for eternal thinking, and disobedience to God's law for obedience to His way of life.
2. Emotions. How much is your life controlled by anger, hatred, feelings of hurt, envy, fear and anxieties?
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: "Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?' or ‘What shall we drink?' or ‘What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Mathew 6:31-33).
God wants to replace your fears with peace and your anxieties with faith.
3. Imagination and creativity. In another part of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28 Matthew 5:27-28  You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:
 But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
American King James Version×).
If you want to get off the meaningless sexual merry-go-round, or overcome your addiction to pornography, you must first deal with your damaged imagination. I hope you're beginning to see how damaged you really are, and how God wants to heal you!
4. Free will. The storyline of your life is a composite of your decisions. You can't keep making the same flawed decisions—you will simply arrive at the same dead-end destinations. Isn't it time to attempt something different? God wants to replace your short-sighted, self-destructive decision-making process with one that produces happiness.
5. Relationships. All of us long for a deep, meaningful relationship with God and others. You were designed with those needs. If you will allow God to heal your relationship with Him, He will teach you how to heal your relationships with others.
This is the script God wants to write for your life. You exist because the Almighty God wants children—children who are like Him. You were made in His image, but you have become a damaged image of God. Salvation is God saving you through His Son Jesus Christ and restoring you to your original purpose. This is an aspect of the gospel that is missing from so many religious messages—the wonderful news that God is creating His own true family!