We spent the whole time in class last night sharing our life stories with each other. Each person at the table was required to spend 20-30 minutes telling the rest of the group the ups and downs of their life. The whole idea revolves around the fact that a leader leads out of who he is. He leads out of his character. And these experiences truly make us who we are.
Anyway, it was an amazing time. We have spent an entire year with the same group of people and yet we learned so much more about each other last night. You never know as much about people as you think you do. There’s always more to what makes people act the way they do. There’s a reason someone gets angry so quickly, or why certain things just get our their nerves. There’s a reason that they have the habits they do and use the words that they use. There’s always a story. Stories make us who we are. We all have them. We all are in the midst of living out our own stories.
After our experience last night, I’m reminded of how valuable our stories really are. I can’t help but think that somehow, the church has lost the art of story telling. I mean, truly, the Scriptures we have today are ultimately a result of the verbal tradition of story telling. How much richer our lives would be today if we reclaimed this art form. We’d learn so much from one another. We could more readily understand people’s hearts. We’d learn how to listen too. How to sympathize and love someone through their struggles. How to look beyond the present circumstances to see the bigger picture. Ultimately, we’d encounter God as He interacts and breaks into each of our life stories.
If there’s anything I’d encourage you to do, it’s this:
(1) Learn to tell your story.
(2) Tell someone, tell anyone or everyone.
(3) Give someone the gift of your time and a listening ear and ask them to tell you their story.
Alright, I decided today that I was gonna write a series of stories and post them all on here. I’ve been collecting stories out of my life for a while and even have a file on my computer called “Stories I Need to Tell.” It’s just a list of the stories I’ve been collecting – ANYWAY – I’ll start with a story where God really spoke to me in a powerful way. (Of course anytime He speaks it’s powerful, but I actually noticed that it was Him in this story.) This may actually be the first story I remember thinking that I needed to tell somebody else about – this is the one that after it happened I decided to start “collecting” stories.
The Falling Star
When I was a Senior in High School, I met a girl. Her name was Gema. We started dating and I must admit that she was the most amazing girl I had ever known. She was beautiful. She was smart. She enjoyed alot of the same things I did. And probably the biggest thing she had going for her was this: She actually liked me too. Anyway, we dated for a few months toward the end of my senior year (She was a senior too) and somewhere in the middle of the summer (probably July) I had returned home from church camp. (Meridian – that’ll be in another “Story I Need to Tell”) After arriving home I called her up and she came over to my house. My family lived in the middle of this big 80 acre field in those days so she and I went out back and sat in the porch swing. It was one of those really clear nights where there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – the temperature was just cooling down from the summer day and there was a nice breeze. It was a pretty romantic sort of situation (I was pretty good with that stuff in those days.) Anyway, as we talked that night about leaving each other as we had planned to go off to college, Gema soon started crying. It wasn’t long that I had joined her. Somewhere deep inside I felt that things would be OK and since I had just come from church camp, I knew it was God speaking to me. Through my own tears I spoke to her and said, “It’ll be OK, God will be with us.” THEN OUT OF NOWHERE CAME A FLASH ACROSS THE SKY! This falling star shot from one end of the sky to the other – It was HUGE! It was like God spoke through me saying “I am with you!” and then He sent this Big EXCLAMATION point with the falling star. Our tears dries up that night and we both had received the hope that God had given us that night. Of course the next day. . . . .we were sad again and scared about our future.
After starting school at Texas A&M a month or so later, trying to keep our relationship alive, I would drive 3 hours home each weekend to meet up with Gema. One weekend I came home and things felt different between us. When I asked her about it – she would say that everything was good and that she “loved” me. By the time Sunday night rolled around she pretty well had me convinced that things were still good between us. After my 3 hour drive I called her to tell her I had arrived safely and asked her once again what had changed. Why had things felt so different? She finally gave me the truth and said she didn’t know what it was, but she wanted to “break up.” She said she loved me and that I had done nothing wrong, but still wanted to “break up.” What??!!??!! What does that mean?? She still loves me, but doesn’t want to be with me??? It just doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, when I finally got off the phone it was about 3am. I was crying, but didn’t want my roommate to know I was crying over a girl – I guess that’s the macho guy in me. As I walked around the apartment complex, I cried out to God, “Why?? I don’t understand God?? You brought me down here where I’m all alone. No friends. No family. No church. No job. I’m all alone and now, You’re taking away my girlfriend??!! I don’t get it??” And then He answered as only He could. I saw a “falling star” shoot from one end of the sky to the other and was reminded of what He had said before with that same phrase. “I am with you.”
I AM WITH YOU! Listen to Him say it to you.
I AM WITH YOU!
From that day forward I have realized that I wasn’t ever alone, and that I am stronger when it’s just He and I than at any other time in my life. Wherever you find yourself today know that God is with you and that He loves you.