It’s February 15…only two months of shopping days until tax day!
One of the things I can only admit to a few people is that I like to listen to tobyMac, once of DC Talk fame. It’s hard to admit to one crowd, because he’s a little too raucous. And it’s hard to admit to another crowd, because he’s a little cliche-cheesy-pseudo-hard rock-rap. But anyway, I just admitted it, whether you like it or not.
His latest cd has this song called Stories (30 second sample and lyrics). I like it, so sue me. It’s a song that speaks encouragement to people who are really struggling, reminding us that God sees people through the worst things imaginable. It reminds us that we all have stories of God’s faithfulness to us in hard times.
Monday I sent an e-mail out to a dozen or so people from our church family, giving a (possibly scary) invitation to share their story of God’s work in their lives with the rest of us at Newberg Friends. I invited them to write it out or to consider sharing verbally in our services this coming Sunday. I’ll admit, I didn’t have high hopes. I was sure that people wouldn’t want to be vulnerable, wouldn’t want to risk sharing what God’s up to. Within a few hours, people proved my skepticism to be horribly unfounded.
Guess what? God is alive and well, in good circumstances and bad… and people are more than willing to share. In fact, all who’ve responded so far said they were glad to be asked. In fact, several of them had some kind of God encounter before I sent the e-mail in which they’re sure God was preparing them to share.
See, this is what it means to be the church. If we’re to have community, we’ve got to share our experiences. I think some of us shied away from this, because we saw the negatives of a “testimony time” at church as we were growing up. I’m young enough to have mostly experienced “sharing” at church follow this pattern: “My life WAS so horribly awful…then Jesus came…and now I never even frown, my life is so perfect.” Most of us haven’t lived those kind of lives, and so we’ve avoided opening up the opportunity to share stories out of fear of giving the impression of a pseudo-perfect church. Out went the baby with the bathwater.
I told everyone I asked to share their stories that our church needs to hear people share every part of the story of life with God: the failings, the fear, the questions, the noticing-God-without-being-sure-what-the-result-is, AND the incredibly beautiful and powerful moments when God breaks in with hope. We need it all. Here’s what one person wrote in response:
So, yes…I will respond to your request (well… God’s really) and write (and/or speak) this Sunday in service. [Speaking would make me] a bit nervous, only because I’ve never spoke in church before (after all, that was always for the “my life used to be hard….then I found Jesus…and now everything’s great” people) but I know NFC to be a warm, friendly and loving church that doesn’t judge or shame it’s fellow Christians.
What’s your story of God’s work in you? Can you think of someone Jesus might want you to share it with?