Your story

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a couple of the guys at church and going over how it can feel difficult to share the gospel with others. We talked about ways that we’ve used in the past and how to approach people, but I know for me I sometimes feel almost like I’m burdening the person and for whatever reason feel the need to say “not that I’m trying to preach at you.” I find it hard to be comfortable sharing the love of Jesus and I’m not okay with that. Rudy said something that I agreed with, that even bringing this up with each other was a good way to practice. I thought about this for a few days, wanting to find my voice. I prayed to discern the proper way to speak my faith to others without smacking them in the head with it. I think one of the best ways is to use our own story. Making our faith personal not only sounds more real but allows us to speak in confidence.

I’ve had things occur in my life that I feel had to be God speaking. I’ve had some rough patches in life. I grew up in church but only recently really came to know God outside of my reading. The changes in my life I feel like are evidence of something that I couldn’t have accomplished on my own. I feel by revealing my experiences to others, it can be seen as more real. I looked to my own story to speak from. When Jeremy was speaking last Wednesday, he made a point that really tied all this together for me. These personal stories are great and probably the easiest way to relate to others, but they only mean anything if they come back to Jesus. The entire concept of Christianity isn’t some set of rules to follow, but a love story. We aren’t saved by adhering to the rules, but by believing in the story. Our story only has power because of his love. Sometimes, meaning to or not, we can imply that we’ve overcome a tremendous struggle on our own power. Our efforts come off as trying to be heroic. That we are the one who brings about the change in our heart. In the Bible, we can look at many stories and relate them to ourselves at any given point. But all of these are examples of God’s power./p>

Until we’ve been through rough patches, we can can still love others, but God specializes in using broken things to show his glory. In facing opposition, we can look to avoid the trouble and seek less conflict. But sometimes we act like Jonah instead of going where he’s leading, we decide that we know better. We resist the difficulties and can miss the opportunities hidden within. We ask to have our lives be more substantial, but shy away from the trial. We seek just the rewards of serving instead of allowing God to show himself when we’re unable to work out the results. I find myself pausing during hard times when I just want to be out of the situation, remembering that God works good in all things for those that love him. I can be so sure of myself in thinking that I’ve already learned my lesson, deciding that I’m ready to move on, and not resting in God that his glory will be shown. I act like I know best for myself, even as I ask for help in prayer. So if you’re facing something now, don’t just seek an easy end, head into prayer to find where you should be heading. Winston Churchill said something I love, “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” Grit your teeth and trust in God. And encourage your fellow believers to keep the faith. Be helpful in their situation, but not just in aiming to be free of it. Often the miracle only comes with persevering long enough to see God at work. Maybe sometimes that leads you to a place you didn’t want to be. God spared the city of Nineveh. Would you be willing to go?

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Author: Jeff R

Writer, podcaster, storyteller. I believe everyone has a story worth telling.

4 thoughts on “Your story”

  1. My comment is not meant to disrupt your life, faith or to be misconstrued with a negative connotation. In my humble opinion, it is the mere idea of “spreading the gospel” that turns people of other religions or thought processes away from Christianity (in all forms). In one way, I completely understand that you feel your faith in Jesus Christ has led you down a path, taught you different ways of thinking about others and yourself, and in those revelations a need for rejoicing to others about how you feel arises. I get that. It’s kind of like a kid acing his first exam, and how he will burst at the seams until he can tell as many people as possible about how he feels. I’m not equating you to a child, but the parallel remains. From another perspective though, what if spreading what you believe to be true actually creates a dichotomy between you and the receiver, and not the expansion of love? I am a non-religious, but very spiritual person. If you ask me if I believe in God I will tell you yes/no depending on who you are. Not because I pander, but because when I say I believe in God to a Christian, they automatically assume I believe in what they consider to be God. Then I enter a labyrinth of hot coals that I try to dance my way out of as I try my best not to offend said person, or bring down their illusion of reality that they cling tightly to. That is where I veer away from Christianity. Most Christians that I have met can’t fathom that God exists outside of their book or religion, and is what all religions and spiritual practices are trying to get closer to.

    I say, only use your “story” to help those that are asking for it. We all cling to some version of reality that is not what it seems. True reality (or God, Consciousness, The Universe, Krishna, Love, etc.) is everything. It is all-encompassing. Just as we strive to understand and to be closer to God, we also realize that we are God. God is everything. Our brain and subsequently our bodies, have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to house a spirit or soul that is more complex than anything that has ever existed. We are the pinnacle of evolution, and everything we do literally forges new horizons. For me, I don’t want to spend my entire existence (at least in this life) wondering why others don’t feel the way I do. It’s a losing game that you can never win. I want to accept everything and everyone for who they are, what they believe in and then, only then can we truly know God.

    There have been countless religions throughout history that have existed, and some that continue on, but each one has served one purpose. That is to understand and be closer to God. None were/are right, and none are wrong. How we come to know God is not important, but what is important is that we realize it is a personal, subjective pursuit. We find God through deep introspection, when we come to the point of our origin within ourselves. Whether by dedicated prayer, meditation, dancing, each method works towards accepting love into your heart, and getting over the things that are inconsequential to how you live your life. I say, don’t worry about what others think. Speaking your faith to others without them wanting or needing it, IS smacking them in the head with it. “Sometimes, meaning to or not, we can imply that we’ve overcome a tremendous struggle on our own power,” when you come to the realization that you are God, and that God is not some intangible thing that you hope to find some day, you will realize that you really are overcoming tremendous struggles on your own, because you are God.

    1. Hey there. I want to thank you for your thoughts on this matter. I appreciate your level of care placed into these words. You’ve been respectful and thoughtful. While I aim to disagree, I do so without trying to be mocking. I don’t buy into things being both right -and- wrong. I believe in an absolute truth. For if there wasn’t, all truths could call the others liars. And then none would be true. I am with you though on thinking that we don’t know everything. I’m in constant awe at the universe around us. I do want to tell others, like if you saw someone with a taillight out, you’d want to tell them, to use a different analogy. Again, thanks for your words. Have a good one.

  2. I appreciate the rational, well-thought response. That is hard to come by these days!

    If I conveyed that things can be both right and wrong, I did so from a point of perspective. Muslims seeing the twin towers toppling over may have felt satisfaction, while I would like to believe that every American felt disgust at this same sight. From this example, I think we can both ascertain the idea of things being both right and wrong, from the point of view of perspective to be an absolute possibility, as you can imagine scenarios like that happening at every second of every day where two parties can view the exact same moment in time in a good or bad way. As for which are actually right or actually wrong, that is explained by there being no such thing as absolute anything. Everything just is. That is all. Right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, these are just descriptor words or ways of describing feelings and emotions that arise within us that we give meaning to.

    I do however, think it is entirely tangible that there is a more desirable way to live life in any circumstance, but we can only know that of which we desire by experiencing that which we don’t. Kind of like Yin and Yang; a coexistence of sorts. In my opinion, life cannot be lived without both right and wrong co-existing as part of a grander experience. The only thing that is absolute in this life, is life itself. The experience of it. Any attempt by any human being to describe that experience takes away from what it actually is. Oneness, or simply bliss. Even us having this e-conversation is a dilution of what we are both trying to describe.

    If I, and as you mentioned to me I do not mean to mock, were to take your analogy in its most literal sense, I would probably not equate something like a tail light malfunctioning and the need it may espouse to tell said person it malfunctioned, to approaching someone with your “story” because you felt that they could use it. That kind of encapsulates what I was trying to display with my words…that there is a difference between someone wanting to satiate their desire for knowledge by asking someone to tell them about their life and thoughts on certain matters, and someone who decides that whether a person is wanting their “story” or not, they are going to get it because their is an absolute intelligence that bids thee. I just have to imagine God or Consciousness as a totally impersonal thing. It has to be. To be omniscient is to encapsulate all things at the same time, that would include all of the good and all of the bad. I think God is more complex than any human being can understand. I suppose if telling someone about your life makes you feel better then it can be both good and bad, because you have to entertain the idea that the receiver of your words may or may not like, agree or disagree, or even want to hear what you are saying.

    I am lastly, curious about what the general thought consensus is for Christians on time before Jesus Christ walked the Earth? That is a question that has always been on my mind. To invest so much faith in a person or symbol (as I believe Jesus Christ to have been) that only existed two-thousand years ago, when scientists have studied detailed societies that existed before, not to mention unearthing dinosaur remains…what are your thoughts on that?

    Thanks again for the response!

    1. I find myself very able to see some of your points with at least some degree of understanding. The concept of truly understanding anything is a difficult one. And even then, knowledge is always shaded by perception. I completely agree that some, and probably most, things aren’t inherently good or evil. As a Christian, I hate when players talk about God wanting their sports team to win. But perception isn’t knowledge. It simply gives us an angle in which to view it. While it’s probably true that we often use our own perception as justification in truth, our thinking cannot change what we see, only how we see it. Me seeing those attackers on 911 as performing an evil act doesn’t change their intent, which may’ve been something they viewed as good. But that doesn’t make it so. I agree that God is incredibly complex. Someone able to create all that we see could be nothing else. If we were able to be as complex, we wouldn’t need to theorize on power, theology, love, or creation. I believe Jesus did walk the earth and even a lot of atheists agree, though we differ on his role. And I do struggle at times with things I believe, though I feel that’s what authenticates my faith, not what ails it. To be honest, things like dinosaurs aren’t things that I can explain. Though when looking at the vastness of the universe, I realize the list of things I cannot explain is pretty similar to every other’s list. What I live by is the faith that the love that changes hearts is true and am humbled by that. Thanks again for your comments.

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