Pastor Mike’s latest blog includes an audio recorded at Sunday worship on 9th June 2019 as he considered the importance of relationship building both within and without the church, and the necessity to share our own story in order to strengthen relationships. This was then followed by the powerful testimony (story) of Rachael.
As a kid growing up in the 1970’s I loved Jackanory. For those who might not know it Jackanory was broadcast originally between 1965—1996, with an actor reading from a children’s novel or fairy tale, most often seated in an armchair. It was designed to stimulate a desire or love of reading amongst the watching children.
It worked for me. I loved reading and immersing myself in the tales of story tellers, be it A.A.Milne’s ‘House at Pooh Corner’, Joan Aitken’s ‘The Wolves of Willoughby Chase’ or ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ by Alan Garner. Of course as I got older tastes changed and I moved onto novels by James Herbert, Tom Clancy along with classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird. But then I discovered biographies: sporting , music and political. I was intrigued by the live others led in the public eye, or indeed were still living (who’d have thought The Rolling Stones would still be going, never mind still be living considering some of their lifestyles?).
I still love reading biographies and there is normally one or two on my Christmas list, when I can find some time to put my feet up with a mince pie (or two) and read away. But recently I have been considering the lives of folk who may not have biographies about them published, so called ordinary folk. As a minister in the Church of Scotland I get to take the funerals of people both with and without church connections, and they all have the same connection. That is they have led a life and have a story to tell. It most likely would never get into print but it is still their story and is a story that matters to the family, friends and loved ones.
So stories matter. A story is really just an account of peoples lives and interactions with one another and the world around them, whether true or fictional. And a great story can elicit emotions and engagement.
Of course as a pastor, the greatest story I know of is the story of God, and His involvement with creation and humanity as told in the truth of the Bible. The Old testament recounts creation and fall; exile and exodus; judges, kings and prophets; then culminating in the New Testament Gospels when God came amongst humanity in the person of Jesus. It is the story of, the Gospel of Jesus (a biography) in which we today find a relationship with God, and is a relationship that can change our own story.
I met a man, Bill, at Washington Family Ranch (WFR) in the high desert of Oregon (https://washingtonfamilyranch.younglife.org) in summer 2015. Bill shared his story with me, he was now in his early 70s and had led a life. Hard childhood with strict parents and as soon as he could, headed off to work in oil & gas, and then construction. Work was hard but so was his livin’. Drinking and working hard and bringing his kids up the hard way too, with no time or space for the Lord. But Bill also had a compassionate heart—taking in his nephew, Chris, and raising him. Then his nephew started going to Young Life and gave his life to Christ in his teens, and in the summer of 2015 he was working at WFR as part of the entertainment crew, and his uncle Bill had come for a few days to see and hear what happened at this Christian camp for young people. Through Chris, Bill had come to faith just a couple of years before. Not hiding his past failings, Bill told me what the story of Jesus had meant to him in his late 60’s. He knew he had bought up his kids with a great work ethic; had worked hard and provided for his wife and family, had taken in his nephew when it was needed. But he also acknowledged he had failed at so much else, yet now he knew those past ‘mistakes’ were forgiven and forgotten. He was desperate to know more of God and of the story of Jesus, and so asked me (the then trainee minster who felt so ill equipped to answer!) questions on his morning Bible readings as we sat and drank coffee.
So, what does Bill experience have to say to us now—
- We all have a story—both good, bad and ugly
- It’s never to late to know Christ and the grace, forgiveness and love He offers
- It’s good to share our stories (testimony) in encouraging others, and
- You never stop learning about God, so keep asking questions.
Bring Christ into your story daily, and share it with others—folk love a good story and know that yours is good to tell!
Your servant in Christ Jesus