Friday, April 27, 2018

What Happens After The Story Is Over

I love a good story. Actually, I love stories in general. I'm the kind of person who can watch pretty much any movie and have very few complaints. I entertain easily. I laugh readily. I cry unashamedly. I'm a sentimental schmuck. But the funnier or sappier the story, the better. I'll watch and re-watch the Grey's Anatomy episode where Mark dies over and over and over and cry every time, even though I know it's about to happen. Give me the cheesiest of chick flicks. I'll still love it, probably.

If you know me, you know I also love telling stories--kid stories or husband stories that have a twist of cringe worthy humor, which basically all of mine do, because such is my life. I love to hear people laugh with me and at my stories, because it's always a good thing when people that think your life is as ridiculous as it is, can laugh along with you.

I've made a habit of being a story teller. If they will encourage you or challenge you or simply make you chuckle to yourself, then I've done my job. I believe stories are influential. I believe they can captivate even the coldest of hearts and soften them. They can make the saddest of people, laugh, if even for just a moment.

I wrote a blog post a few years or so ago, called "I Am Not Broken." I wrote it because I was seeing a trend in Christian culture. A trend where we sing about our brokenness. A trend where we write about our messes. A trend where we put our struggle on display to prove to the world that we are authentic and relatable. We need to tell our story...Because we too are broken and bound. Huh? Wha??---It bothered me because the very reason Jesus came to this earth, was to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free. Why does it come so easily for us to put our weakness and brokenness on display? After everything Jesus did to give save us, free us, loose us, and heal us and put us back together from our fallen state- it seems a little unfair.
Is it possible to tell a story of who we were, who maybe we sometimes still feel like and still boldly voice who we KNOW we are now in Christ? I think it is. And it's a compelling one. A story that brings a dead, sad, broken, sick, lost person back to life and makes them whole. Paul said 'For when I am weak, then I am strong.' That's our story.  That's way better than telling people to 'Come to Jesus. You can be just like me. I'm still damaged and a mess, but yes, I am so blessed."

Stories are good. But sometimes we become too dependent on a good story to make Jesus feel real to us. I was talking to a friend a while back and she was really excited about a women's event at her church, in which she loved the girl speaking because she was real and honest and she could relate to her stories. I pondered over that concept for a few weeks, honestly. The idea that the Gospel could only be good news if the person sharing the gospel could entertain us first with a good story we could relate to? Could the promises of God, the hope of the Gospel and the message of Jesus be valuable in and of itself? Is it possible that spending time with Jesus-- just you and Him---could breathe life into His words more than any person's story could ever hope to?

I know so.

I am a story teller by nature. I thrive on vivid descriptions and funny anecdotes. I am inspired and motivated when they are told with enthusiasm. I am hopeful when they are told with conviction. I may even believe them if  the person telling them sounds intellectual and like they've done their research--(no Netflix documentary, I'm not pointing at you.) I love hearing them. I love telling them. Jesus even told them to help people understand.
But I don't want to just be stirred emotionally by someone's story, as exceptional as it may be. Because their good story neither has the authority, nor power to change my life.

What happens after the story is over?

Friends, the Word of God is alive. It needs nothing to back it up. The closer you are to Jesus, the less you will need an illustration or an incentive for the gospel to be real to You. My challenge to you is to spend time Him. Get to know Him. Just you & Him, alone in a room with His Word, prayer and worship. Let His story become real to you, just as it is.
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