My grandfather once told me his life story. It was something I’ll never forget. Hearing how his grandfather came to the states from Italy generations before, and how grandpa and his siblings grew up in New York. After that, he traveled all over the world with the Air Force. I was completely fascinated by what he said. All of it added so much to the person that I knew. Stories offer us something that few other things do. They promote authenticity and credibility. There’s a difference between having experience and just knowing facts.
Sometimes, this happens with the spiritual, as well. Confession time. I’ve been a Christian for about 14 years now. And recently, the Lord has helped me realize that I’ve had trouble doing a very basic, important thing that is essential to helping others in their walks with God. I have been reluctant to share my story.
Here’s a little about my personal experience. I grew up in the church. Always believed in Jesus being God’s son. It took some time for God to really work on my heart and make me see the importance of surrender. At age 13, I was baptized. After that, my relationship with Jesus grew considerably. I always wanted to read scripture, pray, and talk about Him. Somewhere down the line I got distracted. Then after that, demons of doubt and fear caused me to severely question things that I thought I already knew. I began to struggle with anxiety and big life questions. It took me a long time to work through it all. Since then, I have not shared my story as often as I could and probably should have.
I don’t have all the answers. Somehow, I thought this disqualified me from telling others about my journey with the Lord. Surely God prefers people with very uncomplicated, neat and tidy salvation stories. I instead tried to focus on other’s faith and helping them grow, rather than opening up about my own spiritual life. It was better that way, I thought. No one needed to hear about my questions and short comings. After all, how would that help?
This brings me back to the idea of stories and testimonies. I think of all the ways I’ve felt truly connected to others. Really, it isn’t in the times when I look at their lives and think they have everything figured out. That their story is a perfect fairy tale. It’s in the messy times of hearing about their struggles, in the honest moments. Hearing their stories and sharing my own is what brings me closer to others. And many times closer to the Lord.
A large part of Jesus’ ministry took place through stories. He taught parables, scenarios. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are all books that tell about Jesus’ life on earth. The humanity that Jesus exudes has much to do with how much he shared with people. A remarkable thing happened when I realized what I had been missing out on by not allowing others to hear about my faith journey. I stopped being so afraid. And even though I’m not perfect and neither is my story, it doesn’t matter. God is perfect, and He’s bringing goodness from my small bit of faith.
Don’t take my word for it. Check out this story from the Bible: Jesus is looking over a massive crowd, and they’re hungry. He asks his followers what they think they should do. Philip exclaims over the amount of money it would take to feed them all. Andrew claims something else.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?’ – John 6:8-9
It seems to be an impossible situation. But Jesus is the one to see the possible in the little things.
The story goes on to tell how Jesus fed thousands from that tiny snack. Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? It’s just a bit of faith, or willingness to obey. Perhaps you, like me (and this lovely Tirzah girl), have felt your story isn’t exactly “perfect” enough. But here’s the thing about God: He works with willing hearts. God is just looking for people who are trusting enough to listen to His call and do what He asks. After all, it isn’t about what we are capable of on our own. It has always been about God.
And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
We may have more to give than we think we do because of Jesus. Start off small, if you like. Invite a friend to meet you for coffee and share about your relationship with God. Become part of a ministry and talk with others about Jesus. Tell how you came to know Him and what He’s done in your life. You may be surprised to find how much of a blessing it can be to people. Just the ability to see that we are all human and are on this journey together. Share!