What a long time it has been since I have written to you! Through the silence I thought of you so often, prayed for you, and wondered how you were. This was a very hectic summer, and a busy fall for me, as I’m sure it was for all of you too. Despite overloaded schedules and pressing responsibilities, I hope you all enjoyed the amazing summer and autumn weather as much as I have. How thankful I am for so many delicious summer days with mild temperatures and cool breezes, and for the extended warmth of this very lovely, golden autumn. While these are gifts that everyone enjoys, sometimes it feels like they are especially for me…love notes from God to carry me through my busy season at work. Do any of you ever feel like that?
I had the pleasure of hearing Sophie Umubyeyi Kopecky tell her story this past week at the FLAME ministry, as I know many of you did too. For those of you who couldn’t make it, Sophie generously shared the story of how she survived the Rwandan genocide, and how the hand of God protected her and loved ones through the most difficult of circumstances. It was not an easy story to share, but Sophie did it with honesty, grace and courage. I know there was not a woman present that evening who wasn’t inspired by what was said. I lay in bed for a very long time after I got home before sleep finally overcame all the things swirling through my head.
Many of those things are still swirling, but this is the one that I want to write to you about…how important it is for us to share our stories. Certainly we do not all have the kind of story Sophie does, and to be sure, we have to think through our individual stories so we can share them in a way that is honest, kind, and full of grace. As I considered Sophie’s story, I naturally thought about my own…not because they are similar in the details at all…but because the same loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God runs through both of them. We all have a life story that is uniquely ours, but they are not about us…they are about God. Therefore, when we share our own story, we share God.
We live in such a crazy, messed up world, and the distractions are so abundant that it’s positively mind-boggling. We can get together with friends or family and talk about just so many things, only to find out later that we didn’t really talk about anything at all. I’m not saying that we have to be popping off sermonettes or quoting scripture in our conversations…goodness knows how boorish and offensive that can be…but there should be substance to what we share with each other. Whether we are talking to other believers, non-believers, or a mix of folks, there should be something of God in what we say, and in how we say it.
Obviously, we are not all going to be asked to share our life story the way Sophie did, but that does not mean that we don’t have anything to share at all. Maybe the telling of your greater story isn’t the thing. Maybe God is just asking you to be willing to share the story of your day, or your week, or whatever and wherever it was that you saw Him at work. How would that look? Maybe you saw God at work resolving a difficult family or work situation. Share that. Maybe you realized that the phone call that kept you from getting out the door on time was the reason that you weren’t involved in the traffic accident that happened on the highway a mile or two ahead of you. Share that. Maybe you sensed God’s creativity and depth as you stood in your backyard surrounded by trees bathed in sunlight with golden leaves fluttering down around you. Share that. Maybe you read a verse for the hundredth time, and all of a sudden you understood it in a new way that touched you deeply. Share that.
Since I am urging you to share, let me get the ball rolling by sharing something with you that happened just today. I have been thinking about writing this blog for weeks now…but I just could not seem to find the thing that I thought God wanted me to write about. I tried a couple of times to get something on paper, but to no avail. After hearing Sophie’s story, I was so enthused that I felt the need to write…but write what? I’ve already told you my own story, and I certainly couldn’t expound on Sophie’s. I wondered what to do and then this morning I read today’s devotional in My Utmost for His Highest, the classic book by Oswald Chambers. That let me to look up the verse for the day (2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away and all things are become new.”)…which led me to read the whole chapter so I might understand the verse in context…which led to a note of reference I had written in the margin of my Bible – who knows when. The note was actually for verse eighteen which reads, “All this (grace and forgiveness) is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” My handwritten note in the margin said, “reconciliation entrusts us with a story to share with others.” I knew instantly what it was that God wanted me to write. Our stories are actually ministries.
If we have a relationship with God, it’s because we have recognized and accepted that Jesus Christ gave His life for our own in order to restore what was lost when sin entered this world. Believing this truth and acting on it in faith reconciles us back to a right relationship with God. And just like that, I have a story…how God drew me to Himself so I might believe, what that relationship means to me, and how it is growing. The great beauty is that this is a story that continues forever…not just in this life, but in the next too. Mind-boggling.
I confess, I was the weird kid that looked forward to the “Capper’s Weekly” in the mail, so I could read the next installment of those serial stories that went on for weeks. But this is so much better…I get to live out a story that has new installments every day, it’s fact rather than fiction, and it’s a story that has value in the overarching story of the world. Therefore, it’s worth sharing, not because it’s about me, but because it’s about the God Who loves me, Who died for me, Who conquered death for me, Who lives for me, and Who is coming back for me. Well…just…WOW!
Share your stories, dear sisters, for they are the ministries of reconciliation… they are the gospel presented as only you can, and all for the glory of God. Amazing.