I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
– Psa. 40:9-10
Everybody loves a good story. No matter how young or old you are stories captivate our attention and their memories and truths stay with us long after they have been told. We easily forget long dissertations, books, studies, sermons about the same truth. But a story we can relate to, it engages our whole being, our mind, our imaginations and our emotions. A good story is a truth that we can step into and dwell in and which also steps into and influences us by depositing truth into the depths of our heart.
In what often feels like a chaotic and unpredictable world, a good story reminds us that there is an author in charge behind the scenes, there is a time and purpose for everything, a rhythm and order behind each event. Nothing in a story occurs by chance, but was intentionally written in. Every event and spoken word has a point and is leading up to something else, a grand finale where all the pieces of the puzzle finally come together and everything finally makes sense. We can face the pain and endure the long dry chapters, and the temporary injustices if we know that in the end, it’s going to be ok. When every tragic injustice has been righted, when every suspenseful question has been answered, when every broken relationship has been reconciled and restored and every insurmountable conflict has been overcome and resolved, we know we have come to the end of the story.
Stories enable us to escape from our world, our problems for a short time and comfort us by giving us hope. Through the shared personal stories and experiences of others, we are reminded we have not come to the end yet, there is still much to be reconciled and resolved. The focus of our eyes is removed from our present circumstances and set on a future that we cannot yet see when everything will be righted. In many instances we are assured of our own ending by others who have walked before us and come back to walk beside us, to encourage us, to strengthen us, comfort us, lift us and sometimes even carry us through our own trials.
I am thankful for those who came back to share their stories, their experiences, as they went through some of the greatest unmanageable trials in life as I look on in horror and dread. As I have watched them being tossed into the furnace of affliction and walk amidst its fiery flames. I stand paralyzed in fear of the future until they come back and tell me how faithful God was, how he walked beside them in the furnace and delivered them and they have come back now to walk beside me. I too am not alone.
I am reminded of Betsie’s last words to Corrie ten Boom in the Hiding Place:
“…must tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that he is not deeper still. They will listen to us Corrie, because we have been here.”
The stories that comfort us the most are those who have been there. Stories from those who have personally walked through the furnace of affliction and found Christ at its center. Those who have the scarred hands and battered feet, the broken hearts, and have lived to tell us about how they made it through. God calls us to go back, to be witnesses and tell & share our stories of his goodness, his faithfulness, his deliverance, his excellence with those in the world who are following us, with those who are faintheartedly walking behind us, watching our reactions carefully for any sign of hope to be found ahead of them. We are examples whether we intend to be or not, for better or worse, encouraging or discouraging, every moment of every day.
To know Christ, is to have a story to tell. As he speaks to our hearts, comforts and encourages us in our afflictions, we are called to share our stories with others. To confirm his word is true, and that he is faithful still.If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back— It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track; And if, perhaps, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low, Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go. Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm; Call back, and say He kept you when the forest’s roots were torn; That, when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill, He bore you up and held you where the lofty air was still. O friend, call back, and tell me for I cannot see your face; They say it glows with triumph, and your feet sprint in the race; But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim, And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him. But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry, And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky— If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back— It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track. – Streams in the Desert, selected