Stories. We love them don’t we? I love to listen to the stories that people tell about their lives. I really love funny stories, inspiring stories and stories that give me a glimpse into someone’s life. Stories connect generations, lives and cultures.
My mom loves to tell stories and I never tired of hearing stories about my grandparents who I never got to meet. My mom’s childhood was a tragic story of loss and pain. She lost her mom to suicide when she was just twelve years old and in her early twenties, she lost her brother to suicide and her father to cancer. By the time I came along, my mom and dad were a broken couple trying to find their way. Through time, with their marriage falling apart, my mom decided that she just couldn’t do life anymore. With the lie that I would be better off without her going through her mind, she gave God one chance saying, “If you’re real, you’re going to have to show yourself to me. If not, I’m done here.” Well, thankfully (actually that is much too small of a word) He did show Himself and my mom had an encounter with God right there in her room. Just six months later, my dad had his own encounter with God and 45 years later and seven kids later, they’re still married. I never tired of hearing that story because even at a young age, I understood that I was moments away from being a motherless child with a father who was not anything like the man he is today. My life didn’t meander to where I am now. God staged a rescue. God didn’t save a life that day, He saved a generation of our family. Not only my parent’s generation, but mine and future generations. You see, our story is not our own, but it is intertwined with legacy. We are our family’s future legacy and God wants it to be one of restoration.
As a young girl, I remember having a confidence that God could do anything. If I heard it in a story, then He would do it for me. Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime stories were my favorite – especially the one where the boy disobeyed and got carried off by a crocodile.
I know, such a heartwarming story. It was kind of the equivalent of a ghost story for me when I was little. Ghost stories were completely out of the question, but Swami and the Crocodile? I never tired of it.
Anyway, in that book series there was a story about a farmer who had no money. His crops were being ravaged by bugs. He prayed and miraculously, birds came and ate all of the bugs. About the same time that the story was read to me, our yard was being destroyed by grubs. My parents didn’t have the money to take care of the problem and I remember telling my parents we just needed to pray. Clearly, God would take care of it like He did for the farmer. My parents prayed to appease me and low and behold, the next morning the entire yard was covered with birds eating the grubs. When they left, the grubs were gone and the yard recovered. This happened at my house. I’m not talking about the story anymore. There were no birds in our neighbor’s yards, just ours. I’m not kidding. God was my hero, He would and could do anything. I would dream about Him, think about Him, wonder about Him and was enraptured by Him. I am sure that was because my parents had just been rescued pretty miraculously so that was the environment in our house. Our life was the miracle.
They wanted another child, they prayed, and my brother came and then another. I wanted a sister, I prayed and got five. God didn’t want to just save a generation, but wanted a statement made. My parents wanted one child before they were saved, God wanted to restore and then multiply the restoration. The enemy tried to take another generation, but God was looking to restore.
He always is. Always, always, always. Where there is brokenness. He is looking to perform a miracle. It’s who He is. He always works in the impossible situations. I personally think that those are His favorite. Our stories of His faithfulness give others tracks for their faith to run on and for our own in our new stories. When I hear a story of God’s faithfulness, I think, “If He did it for them, He could do it for me.”
Think about those Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime stories when I was around four years old – they gave me the faith to pray for birds. Stories remind of us of Who God is. Through them we see He is our provider, our healer, our heart restorer, our hope, our friend etc etc. I have been noticing that stories are told many times throughout the Bible. Stephen’s last words in Acts 7, were basically the entire story from Abraham through when Solomon built the temple. When Paul spoke in the synagogue in Acts 13, he told the whole story from Egypt to Jesus. Stories are important and without them facts don’t make a lot of sense. Facts are what we should know, but stories make them make sense to our hearts and our lives.
In Joshua, the Israelites needed to cross the Jordan River and God once again split the water so that they could walk through with the Ark of the Covenant. They decided to set up a memorial with stones to remember what God had done. I’ll pick up the story here in Joshua 4:6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, “What do these stones mean?” Then you can tell them, “They remind us that the Jordan River quit flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.” These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever. This is good – very good, but the Israelites are not remembered for their gratefulness or steadfastness. I have to wonder, did their lack of gratefulness go hand in hand with their forgetfulness? It seems that they so often forgot the things that He had done for them. He did some pretty miraculous things, but maybe they forgot to speak about what God had done. I have a theory – it may or may not be true. What if waywardness comes from forgetfulness and forgetfulness comes from being ungrateful? Sometimes I can get pretty ungrateful in my life over dumb inconveniences and annoyances or even truly hard things, but when I look at the moment of my family’s rescue – perspective comes pretty quickly. God pretty much turned our lives upside down and I have absolutely no idea where I would have ended up without God. I really don’t. I can’t even really imagine it at all.
We started a thankfulness jar at our house. I bought rocks to fill it with and on the rocks, we write what God has done. I want to be able to pick up those rocks and say, “Remember the time?” I want to remember the time we needed to desperately sell our house for an upcoming cross-country move. I was in the shower praying, “God! Where is the BUYER?” I did not think the prospect of living in Florida by myself with a two-year old and baby while John started his new job in Nebraska sounded like a good time. I heard in my heart, “He’s on his way.” In my ‘faith-filled’ mind, I thought, “Yeah in probably six months.” My hair was still wet from my shower and I took the trash out. Now let’s be honest – the trash rarely went out at this stage in the game. A lot of bad things can happen when you leave a baby and a two-year old by themselves for thirty seconds. But that day, I decided to take the trash out right then. A guy pulled up in the fifteen seconds I was outside (we lived in an obscure neighborhood in an inconvenient place. Only people who lived in the neighborhood drove by) and asked to see the house. He walked in, looked at some of the house, declined to see the room where a baby was napping and announced he’d take it. I asked HIM, “How much?” He asked what the asking price was and when I told him, he told me it sounded perfect and he could move in whenever. It didn’t matter to him. That really happened!
I want the kids to know about the time when I was getting high fevers suddenly and in excruciating pain. The doctors couldn’t figure out the issues. It got so bad I had to sit on the edge of the pews at church so I could exit quickly and I couldn’t really go out. When the fevers came, I couldn’t even hold the phone because I would tremor so violently and we had a new baby I needed to care for. I went to church and I felt that God wanted me to go forward for prayer. I was MAD. I argued that He could heal me in a pew, I wasn’t going forward because I didn’t feel well. It was one of those times where you can’t argue because you know so much what God is telling you to do. There was a man and his wife ministering and I had felt to go to the man. I went to the wife because the guy had about fifty people around him and the wife had only about two. She would not pray for me. She would go behind me, around me, look right through me and ignore me. I was so mad. I walked over to the man with a really bad attitude. There were about fifty people between me and him and suddenly he stood on his tiptoes and said, “That young lady in the back. God wants to touch her. Come here. God wants to heal you. You need healing. Move over so she can get over to me.” He prayed the most gentle prayer for me and I literally never had the pain or fevers again and it had been going on for months. The significance about the particular way God healed me was that I had often felt overlooked – especially by God and especially in that season. He wanted to pull me out of a crowd so that I could see my value to Him. There was nothing special about the guy over his wife – God just wanted to do something more than heal me. He wanted to speak to a brokenness in me that no one could see.
God is writing stories every single day. Let’s never get tired of telling our stories and the ways that He is active in our lives. Some stories look like Him being near in a devastating loss or Him sustaining on an impossibly hard road. Sometimes there are miraculous deliverances and restorations. God is always after restoration and rebuilding. What stories has He written into your life? What story is He writing in your life right now? He is always moving – sometimes it’s hard to see it, but we look back and can trace His hand.