I sat in the grass with my fellow freshmen and our upper classmen small group leaders. It was fall 2000, and Welcome Week was coming to a close. Our leaders asked us to share what we were most looking forward to in our college experience. I don’t remember what anyone else said, but I remember I said the first thing that popped into my mind.
“I want to figure out what my story is. I want to figure out who I am.”
Typical? Cliche? Perhaps. But for an 18-year-old good girl who was convinced that her life had been boring, nothing special, and nothing that God had used or could use, it was the deepest desire of my heart. Because I lacked a dramatic conversion story, having grown up in the church and never knowing a day without Jesus, I didn’t think I had a story to offer anyone.
It’s been FIFTEEN years since that August night, and I’ve only recently figured it out; it’s not just one story that I have to tell, it’s story after story of rescue. It’s the highs, lows, and everything in between that God faithfully leads me through for His name’s sake. It’s not just my salvation that proves that God has done some great work in my life. That’s what my pastors want us all to realize. We want salvation stories. We love salvation stories. But we also want to hear how God is working today. What idols is he ripping from your heart now? What is he teaching you through your pain, your suffering, your doubt, your success, your joy, your trials, your heartache, your loneliness, your talents and your ordinary, everyday life?
If looking for God at work, looking at your life as a series of rescue missions, looking for grace and the enduring faithfulness of God becomes a habit, you start to see that it’s a pattern. It’s the gospel told over and over again. It’s the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus pictured in you. There’s not a better story out there.
I want to take the pressure off of my 18-year-old self. I want to tell her that her story, her stories, matter. While she’s not the only kid who grew up in church, always followed the rules, and rarely missed a day of church, no one else has her unique perspective on life or God’s world. While she’s not the only one who will lose her mom at an early age, no one else is shaped by that experience in the exact same way.
Our purpose here is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, and one of the best ways we can do that is to tell our stories. I do that by writing it out here and sharing it with you. It feels most natural and is one of the things that makes me feel closest to God. For you, it might be meeting a friend for coffee regularly and sharing how God is at work. It will look different for everyone, but I think it’s important that we are all sharing our stories on a regular basis. I’m thankful that my church has adopted this practice from day 1. We regularly hear stories of rescue from the people in our congregation. Some are big and dramatic, others are small and quiet, but each is unique and each one reminds me that God is indeed at work.
Our job is to pay attention.