Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is Your Story Worth Telling?

I sat on one of the hard benches underneath the tiny hut/pavilion in Los Higos where MiBanco Esperanza always congregates.  Many of the women from the bank sat around the pavilion with me as Victoria, an American mother, poured out her heart to the women.  As I translated her life story, many of the women appeared aloof, distant, perhaps not even listening to the story.  Many of the women from Los Higos come from difficult family backgrounds and desperately need the same hope that I saw in Vicki.  Yet somehow each and every time the hope of Jesus Christ is presented to these women, it seems to be met with apathy and indifference.  I finished translating Victoria's story, the women made their loan payments, and I watched as the women hurried off to their houses.  Disappointed, I walked toward the truck along with Vicki and the other American students.  As we walked, Victoria turned to me and said,

"Well, I'm not sure if I the women got anything out of it, but I think God was doing something in me.  I haven't really shared my story much and it was good for me to think about the way I should do it."

Victoria went on to share her story once more at another bank meeting and God used it to greatly impact a few of the women.  However, throughout our week together she continued to emphasize how God had been teaching her through the telling of her own life story.

Every student that passes through the Microfinance Site shares their own testimony before leaving the site.  
When I tell students that they will be sharing their life story with the group, they are often hesitant, scared, and can occasionally be pretty awkward.  "What should I say?" and "My story isn't interesting!" are common phrases that I hear.  I've often wondered why we as Americans shy so quickly away from telling our personal stories.  After all, as Christians, story is one of the most powerful weapons that we can use and I have seen stories that can pierce even the hardest of hearts.  Perhaps it is because we fear opening up and being vulnerable.  Perhaps we fear that others won't find us entertaining. Or perhaps we fear the reality of what our own story says?

While the answer to that question may not always be the same, I would argue that the last question is what we fear the most. Telling our own story forces us to face reality and ask ourselves a deep and uncomfortable question.

Who is my story about?  Me or God?

The answer to that question has implications not only in the story that we tell, but also for our present and future story.  In essence, every time I tell my story and I say aloud that God is ultimately the one driving it, I am acknowledging that I'm not 100% sure where we he is going to take me next.  It can be a scary place to be.  It tests the foundations of my faith. 

However, those that live out God's story don't often have a lack of interesting stories. Jesus is the perfect example of this.  In John 6:38, Jesus pretty much says that he didn't come to tell his own story but the story of the one who sent him.  Two chapters later, he starts telling people that they have no life in them unless they eat his body and drink his blood.  While I might wonder why he phrased it like that, I can't argue that it isn't interesting .  He also does a couple other interesting things during his ministry like walk on water, spit in a blind guy's face to heal him, and provide salvation to the entire world.  But it wasn't just Jesus, the son of God, that did interesting things while telling God's story.  Peter gave up fishing and family and decided that walking on water, preaching in tongues, and hanging out with the son of God was pretty interesting.  Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven.  Then he outran a chariot. (Super cool)  David killed a lion, a bear, and some big dude named Goliath.  Moses parted the red sea and essentially defeated the greatest empire of the world at the time.  Paul left the stardom of the Jewish church and spent his life preaching the gospel, getting beaten, and escaping from cities in the middle of the night.  While my story might not be as grandiose as some of those men of faith, I definitely wouldn't call it boring.  God has called me to leave family in the states, learn a different language, and proclaim the gospel in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic.  It is not quite as cool as mocking the prophets as Baal, but every time I proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, I try to imagine myself mocking the devil nonetheless.

So is God telling an interesting story through you?  DO YOU HAVE A STORY WORTH TELLING?

If not, perhaps you need to ask yourself who is the story about? Me or God.

If yes, then how often do you tell it?  Victoria had an incredibly interesting story filled with the hope of Jesus Christ yet admitted that she didn't often tell it.  If a story is worth telling, TELL IT!  Don't worry about if people receive it well.  Victoria told her story twice.  One group took it to heart and another group barely seemed to listen yet it was equally powerful both times.  If a story is worth telling, TELL IT!

Over the past eight months at the Microfinance Site, God has given many of the American students that have visited stories that are worth telling.  My plan is to use the next several blog posts to let them tell the stories so look forward to several guest posts in the weeks to come!