telling your story

I led worship back home again this past weekend, and it was so good to be home. My friend preached a message I've heard him preach before (this starts to happen when you've known a pastor for more than 5 years) - but one which his new church needed to hear. It's a 2 year old church plant that's in some ways thriving, but their pastor will be the first to tell you that the most heartbreaking and discouraging thing over the past two years has been that they just haven't seen people coming to Jesus the way they'd hoped. For a church as focused on and committed to social justice as this church is, that's an indication of something not quite right.

He preached out of John 4 and John 9, about the woman at the well, and a man blind from birth whom Jesus healed. Both stories are about people to whom Jesus made such a difference that they went out and told everyone about it. Their lives were radically transformed, and it changed their communities. Brian basically used their stories to outline the basics of how to share your own story and challenged people to actually go do it this week.

Telling your story is simply answering a question: what was your life like before you met Jesus, and what is it like now? The before and afters. Or if there wasn't a moment like that, when everything radically changed - what would your life have been like if you hadn't known Jesus, and what is it like because you do know Him? As you answer that question, there are two things to keep in mind - what the theme of your story, and how can you keep the explanation short (like maybe a minute)?

My story is simply this: I have always wanted a happy place to belong where I felt wanted. My childhood was marked by a deep-seated need to prove myself, especially academically and behaviorally. Failure to ace a test or to be "perfect" in some way inevitably had unpleasant emotional consequences - which made love feel conditional, regardless of whether or not it actually was. Then I met some people who really loved each other, and who accepted me and loved me right where I was at, and I started to want what they had - a relationship with Jesus. On March 2, 1991, I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Saviour, and as I've started chasing a life with Him, I've found love, peace, joy, and happiness (hence the nickname) and an acceptance that truly is unconditional, and it has transformed a sad, bitter, angry and incredibly unhappy girl into a happy, gracious, peaceful, joy-filled woman. That's not to say that I don't ever get mad or unhappy or act like a jerk - I do - but those patterns of behaviour do not define me anymore. Jesus does. And no matter how difficult it is to follow Jesus some days, I wouldn't trade this for anything. He's changed me - He saved me. I could have been an incredibly miserable and lonely person - but instead He's made me "Happy" and given me a network of incredible brothers and sisters around the world who are my family. And I love this life.

I have an old praise song chorus in my head this morning. (Ah, the perils of being musically intelligent and a worship leader - I am a veritable walking jukebox some days.) I'm sorry I don't know who wrote this - if I can find that out, I'll come back and edit this a bit - but here are the words:

He has made me glad, oh He has made me glad
I will rejoice for He has made me glad
He had made me glad, oh He has made me glad
I will rejoice for He has made me glad

And that's my story.

I'd love to hear yours.

1 comment:

faintnot said...

I believe the other verse to this is:
I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart.
I will enter His courts with praise.
I will say,'This is the day that the Lord has made'.
I will rejoice for He has made me glad.
You made me smile today as I remembered some very old but very right on songs!