The Power of Story

I’m sitting here on the couch waiting for my bread to rise and figured I may as well delve into this, since it’s been bumping around my head for the last week or so. At the risk of sounding kind of Charismatic, there have been a few times in my life when I thought I heard God talking to me. The first was when I was in high school and feeling my way through what a real relationship with God was supposed to be. The second was shortly before I started dating my husband, and the latest was about a year ago. I believe I heard God telling me to tell His stories. This happened before I had my big revelation that I was to pursue writing more and stop frustrating myself with what I wanted to do for God, so I give it a little bump of credibility there because of that. At the time, I was sitting in Sunday service in Arizona thinking about all the people I knew there and their stories, and how powerful a thing it would be if instead of following a prefabricated “witnessing plan” or “testimony,” we simply told our own God-stories. Stories of how God has worked in the past, how he’s working currently with us. God stories.

Sam and I recently finished the mini-series Into the West, which ended with the Native “holy man” talking to a group of younger people. “This is your story now,” he said, after ending his telling of the story of himself and his people –their ancestors and relatives. And it occurred to me that story is a gift. It identifies us, and in that sense, it is “my story” but it is meant also to be a gift to those who follow us. It is “our story” in that our lives cross so many others. We wouldn’t have “my story” without the many stories that intersect, relate to and collide with ours. How powerful would it be if we dropped the pretenses of what WE want to say and let God speak through our stories. What if, for once, we removed the masks and opened ourselves up to allowing our mistakes and opportunities for growth to be stepping stones for someone else?

We can not be a living presentation of God’s grace without displaying our constant need for His grace, can we? If we present ourselves as people who are beyond doing things that require God’s forgiveness, how can we expect others to trust us as genuine receivers of that grace? To “taste and see that the Lord is good” implies that we have need of Him. We so often hesitate to talk about ourselves in the name of humility, but if we do as Paul and only boast in Christ and Him crucified, our jaws will be opened and our pens will flow with the stories of how God was there when we were desperately in need of his power to heal and restore. That, I believe, is true humility; putting cultural assumption of “what will they think” aside to reach what’s really going on in the heart of hurting people.

When you boil it all down to one thing, it’s all, as my former high school teacher had on the class bulletin board, HIStory. It is a gift to watch God work in our lives and to watch those interactions and collisions and the ways our stories are woven together. It is a powerful thing, and no mistake that in John 1:1, God refers to his Son as “the Word.” Think about it…

 Joshua 4:6b-7a     “…In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you can tell them…”

One thought on “The Power of Story

  1. Lots to think about here. This is a theme which pulls very strongly on me, which is why I value heritage and legacy so much. Yet the contradiction between my desire for such storytelling and the mistake you mention of “what will they think” often play tug of war in my mind. But the truth has set us free…

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