June 7, 2022 – Reflections on “Story-Telling!”

“If you give a man a fact, he will learn; if you give him a truth, he will believe; if you give him a story. It will live in his heart forever.”  (Found in ‘Uncommon Character’, Storiesby Douglas Feavel.

         Story-telling changes and connects lives. I often remember the parables Jesus taught, earthly stories with heavenly meanings. Jesus told over thirty parables during the three years of His ministry.

         As a little girl growing up, our Dad taught a Sunday school lesson to a boys’ class of junior high age. Every Saturday evening, after our baths, we sat around the stove in the living room as Dad ‘practiced’ his lesson for the Lord’s Day with my two brothers and me.  I particularly remember Abraham and his son’ long walk up the mountain. When they neared the top and built the altar, Abraham laid his only son, Isaac, on it. He slowly raised his arm, holding a knife. Dad’s voice lowered until it was like a whisper. His eyes grew larger. Just then, the Angel stopped him, with the words, The Lord will provide… We all drew a breath of relief and learned, “The Lord will provide!”

         Through the years, I learned faith in God because of this early training. The scripture in Deuteronomy 6:4-7, I read yesterday. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

         I remember the questions Mom used to ask, and as she tried to teach me to obey in the little things. One afternoon, I came home to a note, “I wasn’t able to get the dishes done. Please wash them for me.” I didn’t! When she came home, we went into the kitchen together. She unfolded the tea towel on the counter. Out fell a Hershey bar of chocolate—my favorite! God works that way. He has a reason for all His commands. We rarely understand the ‘why’ of them, but we must obey.

         For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9.

         What makes an ordinary person into an extraordinary person on earth? An interesting question, for we all desire to be the person people remember. The kind of a person who belongs.

         Moses was born when the Egyptian King decreed all Hebrew babies were to die. The family hid Moses for three years, before placing him in a basket of bulrushes and placed him in the river. Miriam, his sister, stood at a distance watching. The daughter of the Pharaoh heard the baby Moses cry and told Miriam to have him nursed until he was older and bring him to me. Oh, how much faith it took to follow those directions! Yet, God had plans for Moses to lead the Children of Israel from bondage to Israel, just as He has plans for you and for me.

         What makes the difference between an ordinary person or an extraordinary person? It is our story and how we connect to others, and it begins when we choose to become a part of God’s story. It takes a lifetime to learn to understand the nuances of God’s Story and how believing in Him makes a difference in our story.

His Word instructs us: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13.

         God has a purpose for each of us. He promises, and without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6. How do we write/live our story? Do we trust God to lead us and teach us?? Do we invite God to His rightful place in our story? When God is the main character in our lives, He gives us gifts through His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

         And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at his coming. If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him. 1 John 2:28-29.

 What do we like to do or good at? What are our talents? What gifts has God given us? It may be our earthly heritage, or our ability to learn. Each of us is different, yet together in Jesus Christ, we become One Body, working in unity as God directs us. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8.

         When we follow His Way, we become aware of the ways we can serve God. It is when we please God, and not following our own desires, our awareness is heightened. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time, He may exalt you. I Peter 5:6.