I have a story for everything. I relate most things in my life to a story. Most of my day consists of constant reminders of different stories. Whether it’s a story I’ve heard or one I’ve lived, almost every situation I find myself in causes some kind of “recall” button to be pressed in my brain initiating the “That reminds me of a story…” sequence. It can, at times, be troublesome in my classroom when I have a point I am trying to reach and every statement I make or question my students ask takes my brain to 40 different stories. It’s gotten so bad that now I allot time at the end of every week for those random, off the wall, hilarious stories that I don’t always have time for during a lecture or class discussion.
Similarly, one of the best ways I learn is by example. Explanations are certainly helpful and I retain a lot of information through dictation, but when a lecture is neatly tied up with some grounded and real examples, the little old man that lives in my head runs around turning all the lights in the house on. It makes things click for me.
So this is who I am. I relate to life in stories and examples. Show me with your words, then show me with your hands. This is how God speaks to me. God knows that if He sent an angel to split the sky and descend into my living room as I type this very word and told me that I was supposed to be a servant and missionary to the city of Morgantown, I would probably: a) ignore it, thinking I was hallucinating, b) laugh hysterically and look around for the hidden camera, or c) back away slowly muttering, “I don’t think so…” However, if God were to tell a story about a man serving his neighbor and loving his city and then show everyone what He meant with an example, I would get it immediately. It would leave the little old man in my head huffing and puffing. . .which is a good thing.
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’“ (Luke 15:4-6 ESV)
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:35-36 ESV)
God, the Author, lovingly and beautifully wrote Himself into this story with us. And what character does He assume? A storyteller! And not just any storyteller, but one that lives out real, concrete, examples for us as well.
I like to think of my life like the story of Esther or Ruth and Boaz. Not because my life is overly dramatic or because I constantly deal with sticky situations that need to be wrestled with, but because throughout both stories you don’t see God revealing Himself in an explicit way. The story simply unfolds. It’s not that He isn’t there. He certainly is. You can’t argue from the way the events occur that God isn’t there. It’s just not evident until after it’s over. And isn’t that the beauty of both of these stories? God lovingly and sovereignly wrote these stories so that His involvement was only visible from the rearview mirror. This is how my life feels.
I’m anxious about the future. I stress over decisions that I need to make. I try to take everything onto myself. And God whispers, “Let me tell you a story. Remember when…” and we both gaze into the rearview mirror. And I’m comforted and at peace. God comforts me with stories of His faithfulness. God teaches me with stories of Jesus’ perfect example. I love stories. And God knows that. And I’m glad.
What is the unique way that God comforts, teaches, and speaks to you? Does He wrap you up in a story like He does me?