Everybody loves a good story. Some like true stories, others love fables; some prefer funny stories; others, horror stories. Stories are told in books or by a storyteller; movies and pictures tell a story, as well as music and poetry. People love to listen to a good story, and a person who tells good stories will get many people listening!
Jesus used stories to communicate His message of love and forgiveness. Jesus would use real life situations as well as stories that may not have occurred but were used to illustrate a truth. The authors of the Bible used a combination of informational fact sharing along with storytelling to paint a fuller and more complete picture of who God is and how God works in our lives.
I am sharing all these truths about stories in order to encourage two things. The first is to talk about your own life and faith journey in story form. This may not be very easy for you at first. The pressure of trying to find a “good” story might cause you to blank. Take a deep breath; relax. Think about different events in your life. Think about happy times and sad times, favorite vacations, a friend’s betrayal, marriage, divorce, graduation, a failed test. Think about how your faith, church or Christian family or friends played a role or didn’t play a role. Think about the results that had an impact or didn’t have one on your faith.
Telling a story can be intimidating, especially when our standard for story telling is Jesus or famous book and film writers. But we aren’t looking for a two hour blockbuster, the next literary classic or even a story whose truth will endure for hundreds of generations. No, all we need are a couple two minute highlight clips of your life, and the impact only needs to be a handful of people close to you. The amazing thing about life is we all have experiences and realizations that are meaningful to our own life and faith formation. Some of these are positive stories, some are horror stories, some are funny stories, and some are sad stories. But each of these stories has already made an impact on your life and therefore is poised to make an impact on another person’s life.
I want to personally invite you to take some time this week and think about these stories in your life. Think about the situations and circumstances that impacted you and get ready to tell those stories when the opportunity presents itself. You might be surprised how your greatest successes and greatest failures can be used by God to inspire someone else!
Second, I want to encourage you to listen again to the powerful story of Jesus’ love. Holy Week is fast approaching, and this week has the most intense stories of God’s love for us. This week of stories goes from happy to horror and back again multiple times. The joy of victory and the agony of defeat, the plot twists and turns, and the most heroic of actions all take place, and for what? For you. The end game of all these events had one single purpose: to reveal to you and me how high, wide, long and deep is the love of God.
Starting with Palm Sunday and all the way through Easter there will be multiple styles and times, various emphases and traditions upheld to help convey these powerful truths. Plan now and set aside time during this most powerful of weeks to journey with Jesus and His disciples. Follow from the jubilation of Palm Sunday through the awe and joyful disbelief of the resurrection of our Savior. Relive these stories that played out for you and for all people everywhere. Let the successes and failures inspire your faith in all circumstances that your story would reflect and retell His story so all people would hear of His great love.