Story: We are the story tellers

We are the story tellers

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

A couple times a year I sit down and write letters to my three children. I talk about who they are, God’s love for them, important happenings in the world at the time, and my prayers for their lives. As each one graduates from high school they will receive a shoebox filled with a couple dozen letters from their dad. I pray over each letter, that it will speak exactly what is needed at the time that it is read.

But in ages past, most knowledge and history was passed on from one generation to the next through oral communication – story telling. Story telling is an art, and is fast becoming lost in the shadow of television and iDevices. No longer do grandkids sit at their grandparents’ feet, listening to stories of their childhood, stories of a world so different from our own that it is hardly credible. We’re too busy to listen to the rambling memories of an aging parent or grandparent. And in the process of this generation break, we’re losing valuable history, valuable experience.

The consequence is that we continuously have to reinvent the wheel. We have to make many of the same mistakes as the previous generations because we’re not taking the time to hear what worked and what didn’t. We’re no longer standing on the shoulders of giants, at least not in the realm of faith, but instead we are limiting our view of the world to the same position as those around us.

Grandpa Ralph going through a photo album with Ryan.

My son Ryan and his Grandpa Ralph. Sharing photos and the stories that go along with them is a great way to initiate story telling and to open up opportunities to discuss deeper issues.

If you are a Christ follower, then you need to know that your story is one worth telling. Try to picture the Bible without the life stories of actual human beings who knew God. Consider the challenges of trying to understand Jehovah without the stories of Adam and Eve, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jonah. Imagine trying to know God without the legacy left behind by so many of God’s people: Isaiah, Joshua, Ruth, Jesus, Paul, and Timothy. God is working out a grand story, His story, through the lives of people from the beginning of time until today. And He will continue to tell this story through future generations until He decides to bring this age to a close. Your story is a critical piece of His story and God’s work in this world will be all the poorer if you don’t tell it.

Not only is your story worth telling, telling it is part of being a Christian. Peter tells us that we are to share our story when we’re asked, and we’re supposed to be prepared. That means you have to actually think about it ahead of time. You have to practice it. Write it down. Talk to family about it. Pray about it. Let God reveal to you in the process what He has been doing all these years in your life. Let Him give you a whole new perspective on your story.

Most semesters, during the first class period when I am introducing the students to the material we’ll be covering, our academic goals and objectives and “learning outcomes”, I will often take the time to tell them a little bit of my story. It’s not every day I have a captive audience (actually, I do have a captive audience every day, but that’s beside the point.) While some students are uninterested, invariably someone thanks me for sharing with the class. I even get thank you notes years later telling me that somehow my faith was visible and apparent, and was an inspiration to them.

If you don’t believe that story telling is a powerful form of communicating God’s movements in our lives, check out this video clip from figure skating legend Scott Hamilton.

Your story doesn’t have to include death-defying miracles to be worth telling. It doesn’t have to sound like a Hollywood script to have an impact. It simply has to be an account of your understanding of God’s work in your life so far. You may not even understand it all yourself, but you might be amazed at how you begin to see it more clearly as you put it into words and tell the world of our Creator and Savior.

Take-home verse: 1 Peter 3:15

Take-home point: As Christians, we are story tellers on behalf of the Father.

 

Questions for thought

Have you ever told your story to anyone? What was their response?

Have you ever written out your story, thought through the details, and prayed over what God was up to?

Are you truly prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have, at any minute, under any circumstance, as Peter tells us?

 

Prayer

God, we are humbled that you would include us in your story. May we never wish for a more exciting story to tell! Motivate us to study our own story, to try to understand what you have been doing in our lives all these years, and give us the courage to put it into words for the world to hear. Let us glorify you by making you known to everyone who wants to know why we are the people you have made us into. In your name, Amen.

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About Dave Cummings

Dave Cummings is a husband, father of three, college professor, biologist, and urban outdoorsman. Most importantly, he is a Christ follower.
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