We may not have a book in us but we all have a host of stories. Listen in to casual conversations around the table, when dog walkers meet, between family members over the phone and the conversation will be filled with stories from their lives. They may be about small incidental happenings but they are relevant, informative and create bonds between people. When the psalmist writes, ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me’ v16 he is keen to share the story of how God has answered his prayer. This is a congregational psalm designed to be used in shared worship and so it celebrates and encourages us to share our own stories of God’s answers to prayer and how important this is in building up the community of faith. Have you a story to tell about answered prayer during this Covid 19 time? If so who have you shared it with and how naturally does it flow in conversation.
The telling of salvation stories is an essential part of mission in our local community. It opens up our faith to others. It is easiest to do so within the faith community because we have confidence that our story will be well received but it is also provides a place for it to become a normal part of our life and makes it easier to share with those beyond the comfort of church. We need to be careful that the stories we tell are those that reflect God’s will and righteousness. The psalmist says, ‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.’ v18
The ‘awesome deeds’ that God has done are salvation deeds. The reference to the sea being turned into dry land v6 evokes memories of the Israelites escaping enslavement through the Red Sea or the crossing of the Jordon into the promised land. There is no pretense in these stories, everything did not go well but they do show the faithfulness of God. As the psalmist says, ‘For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads, we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.’ vv 10-12
All of this is ultimately completed through Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. We have a story to tell. We will fail many times on our discipleship journey but God is faithful and we have many reasons to praise the Lord. We no longer bring burnt offerings instead our worship is now to be our lives lived out being transformed into Christlikeness. In Paul’s words, ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ Romans 12.1,2
To discern the impact of personal story telling in spreading the good news of Jesus read Matthew 9 which contains several accounts of how personal testimony of encounters with Jesus were passed on and ‘news spread throughout the region’. It is important that Christians normalize the telling of their faith rather than be fearful of reactions as we seek to change the culture.
Have you heard a story recently that encouraged your faith?
Have you passed it on?
Build your Kingdom here – Rend Collective