This past Sunday night, we sat attentively as we listened to Marco and Gwendolyn share their testimonies of how they came to Christ, followed God’s call to Cancun, met, married, and now serve there together. We enjoyed every aspect of their ministries to us this past week, but I’d bet that what impacted us most came to us in story form.
Marco’s story is classic, acerbic in its impact. Poverty. A broken home. Immigration. Divorce. Murder. Blind Faith. Miraculous provision. We sat mesmerized as we listened to him tell how God brought him from the cradle to our pulpit. It’s a great story. Gwendolyn’s story is no less impressive. Christian family. Contentment in singleness. Marriage to somebody from a different culture. The willingness to leave the comforts of home to serve in Mexico. It’s a neat story, kind of like the story of Ruth. From listening to many of you giggle and chuckle, you enjoyed listening to it quite a bit.
We all have a story to tell. For some of us, your story is what God saved you “out of.” You came to Christ later in life, and God performed a marked work of grace in bringing you out of darkness into the kingdom of the son of his love. Your story is compelling. For others, our story is what God saved us “from.” We came to Christ earlier in life, grew up in Christian homes, were surrounded by stability and love, and can’t remember a time when we didn’t know that Jesus loved us enough to die for us. Those stories, while less jaw-dropping, are more desirable. Everybody who has a story of what God saved them “out of” longs to raise children who have stories of what God saved them “from.” Either way, the story of God’s work of grace in your life bears telling. Repeatedly.
Practice telling your story. Rehearse what you were like before you came to Christ, and rejoice in the difference God has made since you repented and put your faith in him. Tell it to yourself in times of distress. Tell it to God in prayers of thanksgiving. Tell it to your children as you help them develop their respective stories. Tell it to your fellow church members in appropriate and helpful ways that we might benefit from the ups and downs of your life as we each wobble our way along our respective paths. Our stories intersect, and it is helpful for each of us to know the stories of those who journey along with us. Last, tell your story to those who don’t yet have a story of where God’s amazing grace interrupted their lives. They need to hear your story even if they don’t want to hear it.
Most of all, make sure that you use your story as a segue to the grandest story of all. The tome of history that moves from creation to fall to redemption to restoration – that is a story that gives a setting to your story. It makes your story make sense. When God saved you, he made you a part of his story; he casted you as a permanent actor in the great drama of redemption. Your story is now inextricably intertwined with his story. You’ve come to love it so love to tell it!
I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.
I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.
I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.