You Have a Story to Tell

Do you shrink back in fear when someone asks you to share your faith with other people? I remember the days when I was afraid to pray before church dinners. Many people think about Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on their doors and giving copies of the Watchtower to people in their neighborhood when they think about sharing their faith. Many Christian parents never pray or read the Bible in front of their children. Some of us are afraid to pray in front of our spouses. I’ve noticed that some people even get quiet during Bible studies because they think that their journey of faith isn’t as inspiring as the journey that others have shared. But let me stop you right there….

Trust me. You have a story to tell about how you have experienced God in your daily life. You can probably remember a time when you felt close to God, and you can probably remember a few times when you wondered why God wasn’t answering your prayers. Your life has probably been filled with blessings from God that you can celebrate, and life has probably taught you that there are times when you need to just let things go and let God handle them. Have you ever experienced God’s forgiveness and amazing grace? Have you ever struggled with an addiction, or asked God to give you wisdom as a parent or spouse or caregiver? Have you ever believed that God was guiding you when you needed to make some sort of change in your daily life? You have a story to tell that is uniquely yours and people need to hear it; and the fact that your story of faith contains some ups and downs just means that you’re a human being, just like me.

So, what stops you from sharing your story?

I read part of the story of Moses (Exodus 4:1-17) during my time of daily devotion today. Many picture Moses as the mighty leader who turned water into blood, who unleashed plagues, and who ultimately led the people of Israel out of Egypt. But we never remember Moses as a man who once said to God, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent…. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Moses didn’t think that he had the right words. Moses didn’t think that what he had to say could sway or influence other people. But what if I told you that the words, themselves, are not what’s most important? God is at work in your life and the story of your journey with God can create faith and hope in the lives of others. You do not need to be eloquent and have the right words. You just need to be honest, authentic, and true. The story that you have to share is one that can be used in a mighty way by the Holy Spirit and may even be exactly what someone else needs to hear today!

I was reminded, yesterday, that Moses also had a sketchy past (Exodus 2:11-12) and people were not afraid to remind Moses that he had made some mistakes (Exodus 2:14). Is that what’s keeping you from telling your story? Maybe you’ve made some mistakes. Maybe you’re afraid that if you try to speak to other people about God someone is going to bring up something embarrassing that you’ve done in the past and try to silence you. Do you know that people did that to Moses? Do you know that they did it to Saint Paul? I’m sure that a whole lot of people remembered that Saint Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus at the critical hour! I’ve made mistakes. You’ve made mistakes. We have all made mistakes and we all have things in our past that we would do differently if we were given another chance. But don’t let that keep you from telling other people about how God is at work in your life today. Mistakes can be forgiven. God’s love in Christ erases blunders and mistakes of all sizes! Think about how far you’ve come in life if your past is something that was less than perfect. Doesn’t the Bible tell us that if we say that we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves? Don’t let something that you’ve done in the past take away your chance to talk about how much God’s at work in your life today. And don’t let other people silence you because they’re not willing to forget what God has already forgiven.

Please remember that you have a story to tell, and that God is going to send people into your life who need to hear what you have to say. You may not always think that you have the right words to speak when the moment comes. You may not always think that you are somehow good or important enough to do God’s work because of some haunting memory that you (or others) can’t release. But you ARE both good and important enough! You have a story to share, and I know that it’s a story that other people need to hear. And so, keep your eyes open this week, and look for opportunities to talk about what God’s doing in your life. Somebody needs to hear exactly what you have to say!

Discipleship

Do you like to know how much things cost? Maybe you look for the sign at a gas station because you want to know how much the gasoline’s going to cost and if you can get it two cents per gallon cheaper across the road? Have you ever ordered from the right side of the menu in a restaurant? Do you like to know how much a mechanic is going to charge before he/she works on your car, or how much a hotel charges before you make a reservation? If you are like me, you like to know how much things cost before you commit.

But how can you ever begin to calculate the cost of being a parent? How can you know how much it’s going to cost you to be a son or a daughter when you need to take care of an aging parent? If you are married, what was going through your head when you said “until death do us part” on your wedding day? I didn’t have any idea what it would cost both me and my family on the day when I was ordained and became a pastor.

When Jesus calls you to follow Him on an adventure of faith, it’s hard to know where that journey will lead. Maybe Jesus will call you to do something simple like spend more time reading your Bible and praying, or maybe Jesus will call you to volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry. Maybe Jesus will call you to be financially generous, or maybe Jesus will call you to parent a disabled or handicapped child. Following Jesus always costs you something. When you follow Jesus, you will find yourself laughing and crying and seeing life from the top of a mountain and continuing to push yourself during times when you are dog-weary to the bone.

But a life of discipleship is also filled with unexpected blessings.

I remember a day when a young man, that I met on a mission trip, called me from 1,000 miles away to ask me if I would talk with him about what he believes about God. I remember a father thanking me, on the day of his daughter’s baptism, for visiting him in jail and for telling him that he better straighten himself out before he does something that ruins the rest of his life. I remember sitting beside both of my parents’ beds while they were dying, so that I knew that the last words they heard were, “We love you.” Have you ever thought that something you did made the world a better place? What kind of unexpected blessings have you received because you felt called to step up to the plate and do something important? How have you answered Jesus’ call to come and to follow Him on your own journey of faith?

The call of Jesus is very special. It’s something that changes lives and moves people toward their God-created destiny. And this week, I’d encourage you to think about that as you live your life in a world that needs people just like you. When Jesus calls you, Jesus will always invite you on a life-changing journey of faith. And, when you come to the end of that journey, you will be able to look back and see that your life is one that has been well lived.