My dad loved to tell stories. And, there was no such thing as a short story. Each tale had intricate details, plot twists, and at the climax he would almost always jump to his feet, so he could really drive the story home. It was not uncommon to be with a group of people and hear someone say, “Hey, Phil! Tell the story about the time…” And, he would gather people around and begin his narration.
People love a good story. And, the best stories to tell put ourselves as the central character. You see, there is nothing more powerful than a first-hand account. To me, the best stories start with the phrase, “So there I was…” You know anything that follows that opening line is going to be a good story.
Stories are powerful. They capture our imagination, they draw us in, and they make us feel like we are part of something bigger. Jesus knew this. In fact, after his resurrection, he told the disciples, “you will be my witnesses.” In other words, go tell everybody a great story about me! Go wow them in living rooms! Have people at parties ask you to tell the story just one more time!
But, how often, as Christians, do we really do that? In fact, when was the last time you shared the story about you and Jesus? I am guessing it has probably been awhile. We talk about our kids, and sports, and tell stories about our most recent vacation, or about what is happening at home or work. But, we rarely talk about our time with Jesus. And, I must confess, I am as guilty of this as anybody.
In preparation for our CBA Church Network mission trip to Hungary, we were asked to write a brief story about ourselves to share with people we meet there. It was a challenging exercise. How do you share about who you are, and how your life is different because of your faith in Jesus in 400 words or less? Already, this column is just about that length.
We often do this exercise as we are preparing for an overseas mission trip. We focus ourselves on “the mission.” And, we spend a lot of time talking about the cultural dos and don’ts about how we should share our stories about Jesus. We go over all of the different evangelism techniques we have learned – The Four Spiritual Laws, F.A.I.T.H, Three Circles, etc.
But, does it ever cross our minds to share our story while sitting with friends over lunch at Whattaburger? Do we talk about Sunday’s sermon in the same way we do about Saturday’s college football highlights? Are we as enthusiastic about sharing our Jesus story as we are about how cute we think our grandchildren are?
When Jesus healed Legion, the demon-possessed man in the cemetery, his immediate response was a desire to join the disciples and follow Jesus. Instead, Jesus turned to him and gave him a different task. “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you,” Jesus said. (Mark 5:19 ESV) Mark tells us that when he did, “everyone marveled.” That is the power of a good story. It literally makes people drop their jaws in amazement and wonder because of what they have just heard.
When was the last time we thought about what we would say if we had the chance to share the story of how Jesus has changed our lives? You see, as Christians we don’t need any clever evangelism tricks or tools. We don’t need special training, or theological degrees. Jesus simply says to us, go home and tell your story. Tell others of how you were saved. Make sure the people in your life know how and why you are different today than you were the day before you met Jesus. It is as simple as that.
Many times, what stops us from telling our story is that we think it is not dramatic enough to tell. Not all of us have stories as breathtaking as Legion. However, as believers we are all different than we were before we met Jesus – and that is a story worth telling.
At my father’s funeral this summer we sang the old hymn, I Love To Tell The Story. The chorus is:
I love to tell the story
‘Twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and his love
My dad loved to tell stories. But, he never tired of telling the story of Jesus and his love.
I have recently renewed my commitment to telling my story, not just as I travel overseas, but to people I know and meet here at home. Will you join me? Will you tell your story?