Wednesday, February 1, 2006

I love to tell the story...or NOT

"Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee."—Mark 5:19.

I am a firm believer that there is One Great Author and all of time and history is His one great story. I believe that each of our lives is a thread that the Author has woven into that story and that without each thread, the story, like a beautiful tapestry, would unravel. I know that sounds cliche', but if you think about history that way, it really does make it seem all connected, and, if you permit me, relatively short.

Each of us has a story. Each story is connected to another and another, both forward and backward in the "great story", all the way to the beginning of time. If you think about it, in Jewish tradition, 40 years is a generation. There are approximately 6000 years from the beginning of time (depending on which creationist chronology you look at). Do the math. That is only 150 traditional Jewish generations! Now that can't be completely accurate since physical generations don't hold to a consistent 40 years, but it does put things into a different perspective. Let's compare those generations to chapters in a story. Look at the Table of Contents and you see a relatively short book. Compare each person in each generation to words and you see that there are a LOT of words making up that story! There are alot of stories that make up the One. Each one is important. Even the simplest and shortest. A sentence just doesn't sound right if you leave one of the words out.

I think a good example of how interwoven our lives are is in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" Everything we do sets in motion a ripple that affects the whole story. Every little decision we make will have some impact on another human being even if it is something so small that it changes where we will be at a certain time or who we may, or may not come in contact with. Of course, the Author is in control, but what an interesting task He must have orchestrating the whole thing.

I also believe that we were meant to tell our stories. Maybe not to the world, but certainly to our families. I think our stories are crucial in shaping who our children are and I think they become priceless treasures to them as they grow older. How many times have my children asked me to tell them about the time my Grandfather put a screech owl in his teachers pocket for it to latch onto her finger when she reached in for her gloves, or a mouse down beside the wall so it would scurry to the front of the classroom, making all the girls scream. I have retold the account of him whittling down the switch he was sent out to get for the teacher to spank him with, so that it would bend around him and hit the teacher. Priceless stories that I loved to hear him tell and now I am passing on to my children. I don't want them to be lost. I love to tell how my grandfather taught his dog to kneel with him beside a log to pray. I can't imagine my children not knowing about my grandfather's little sister who he adored, dying when she was 3 of diptheria she caught from a cat, and how my grandfather always hated cats after that. What if he had never talked about her. I never knew her name. As far as I know the family always heard him call her "Sissy". She came that close to never existing. What a thought. To have lived, and died, and no one to know you "were"...!

But there is another kind of story that each of us have. It is the story of our journey to finding our creator. Certainly many of us don't even acknowledge a "higher power", much less a creator or a god. Whether we acknowledge Him, or believe in Him, or simply have a faith in some other god, there is a point in ALL our lives when we must choose. We may not even realize that it is a choice. At times, not choosing IS the choice.

For those of us who believe, that story is called our testimony. It is the story of how God, reached out to us and freed us from whatever bound us. Some of us get free only to get tangled up in it again or something else altogether. God intends for us to share these testimonies in order for others to be encouraged, or to learn of His saving grace, maybe even to prevent others from falling into the same trap we did. ALL of us have a testimony of one kind or another. NO one is without sin. Even those to whom God has already extended grace to, by virtue of being human, are still sinners. We have just simply put on our "life preserver". These stories-our testimonies-are meant to be shared.

Now when it comes to speaking to a crowd, I am running and hiding. I carry a camera with me, making sure I am the "photographer" so I don't have to be "photographed". I break out in a sweat when someone new comes to church and sits near me cause I know I should go shake their hand a welcome them. It's not that I don't want to shake their hand and welcome them, it's that I'm AFRAID to. Once I know you, I will talk your ear off, but getting to that point scares me to death. But, and there is always a but, God in His infinite wisdom, allowed me to not only experience one pit of sin, but two. And guess what. He wants me to tell about it. I know this because everytime I turn around, there is some book, article, or message about "sharing your story" This along with an extreme empathy for people who are struggling with the same things tell me that at some point, probably very soon, I am going to not only have to drag out the sordid, embarrasing, shameful story, but I am going to have to SPEAK about it. I know THIS part because there has also been books, articles, and messages lately about stepping out of your comfort zone. Frightened as I am of speaking, I am also frightened to tell of my sordid past. There are just too many judgemental Christians out there. It's no wonder the homosexuals don't want anything to do with us. I don't know which I am terrified of more

"Oh God, please not the dreaded public speaking thing! You know microphones make me cry!"

His reply is simply "Step out of the boat, daughter," with a quiet mention to my heart of the meaning of His words so I don't have any doubt. To make matters worse, I try to console myself with "God won't give me what I can't bear" and as the kids and I are reading the book "The End of the Spear", He speaks to me through the story and says "Sometimes I require obedience unto death". I am doomed.