As I reflect today on where I’ve seen God this week, I’m humbled almost beyond words. He’s been so present this week in some powerful ways. One of the ways I’ve seen him most is one of the same reasons I write on this blog, one of the reasons we do testimonies on Wednesday nights during lent at church, one of the reasons God created us:
We need to hear each others’ stories!
I must say that it’s hard for us to open ourselves up and share the stories from our lives. I’m getting ready to share a story of my life as part of our Lenten Series on Wednesday night. At least a few times a week, I come here to this blog to share my stories. Each day God prompts us to share our lives with other people. And it’s hard! We wonder if our story could make a difference. Satan tempts us to think that our stories are unimportant and that sharing them is selfish. We’re afraid of what people might think if they see the real us.
We’d rather portray this picture perfect, “have it all together” self. In telling the true stories of our lives, we realize (and let others see) that our lives aren’t picture perfect and we don’t have it all together. It’s tough, I know, but so important! This is why: God uses our stories, even the painful, ugly, imperfect ones, to help write other beautiful, glorious, amazing stories.
Here’s what I mean:
We have the opportunity at First Trinity to hear the stories of congregation members each week of Lent (You can listen to them all if you’ve missed them). Without fail, every week, I hear multiple stories of people who really needed to hear the testimony that was shared that night. This week was no exception.
On Wednesday, Josh Deveso, a 9th grade student, shared his testimony. One of the volunteers on our High School Ministry Team on Thursday nights normally does not come, but made a special effort to be there Wednesday to support and encourage Josh as he shared. As Josh was walking up to speak, the volunteer’s phone vibrated. He knew something had to be wrong since his wife, who was calling, knew he’d be in church but was calling anyway. He didn’t want to miss hearing Josh’s story so as soon as Josh finished, the volunteer stepped out to call his wife back. It was at that point that he found out that a 33-year old relative had just died suddenly of a brain aneurism leaving the whole family, but especially her husband and 4-year old son, in complete shock.
As the volunteer recounted this news to the groups of high schoolers on Thursday night (Josh included), he said that all of the questions that he suddenly had running through his mind were many of the same exact questions that Josh had JUST talked about in his testimony. Questions of why God would let something like this happen or what to do next. He said that as he stood there in the lobby on the phone with his wife, he realized that every question that came to his mind, had been answered in Josh’s testimony, and that while the situation was hard, He could trust God was in the midst of it because just moments before he had heard Josh’s story that confirmed those answers he was seeking. Josh could have acted as if he handled the tough situations in life in a “picture perfect” way, but instead he had shared those questions, share what it looked like to seek God in the midst of it, he shared his story, imperfections and all. Because of that, God was able to bring comfort to a family in pain and shock.
The volunteer walked into church that night hoping to encourage and support Josh and without knowing realizing it at the time, the opposite came true as well: Josh was able to encourage and support him!
The power of our stories doesn’t stop there! As the volunteer opened up and shared the story above on Thursday night with the whole group, and told Josh what an impact it had on him, I witnessed God use THAT story to strengthen Josh, and many of the other youth. He didn’t act like the death of this relative wasn’t hard. He didn’t act like he “had it all together”. He just said where he was at and in the process was able to point to God in a more powerful way than we could have tried to created in any lesson.
THIS IS WHY WE TELL OUR STORIES!
I challenge you today: What story do you have to tell? We all have one! We all have MANY! Each day of our lives are filled with them. Some of you may be called in the future to share your story in front of a lot of people. Or maybe, like me, you feel called to share your stories in written format on a blog. Maybe God simply calls you to share your story with a neighbor who’s struggling, or a young person that could use a little wisdom you’ve gained from the experiences life has brought you. Wherever God calls you to share, listen for that little nudge from the Holy Spirit, and trust that God can use our imperfections to point powerfully to Christ. What’s your story? Ask God where you can share it today and then sit back and be amazed!