On Tuesday evenings a couple times a month a small group and I meet together as I am teaching them the process of learning and telling stories. The weekly assignment is to tell someone the story, or one of the stories, we have learned over the time we have been together. Attendance varies but basically about 6 of us have continued to tell and share stories.
I have had many experiences telling stories in public with people on busses, in grocery stores, airplanes, in car rental agencies, etc by just asking if they would be open to hearing a story. But still, in my hometown, it has been a challenge for me sometimes. I’ve been hesitant to interrupt someone’s day. I have found myself actually thinking I knew they didn’t have space for anything. Amazing how arrogant my wiring can be!
But then there’s one of my class members, a woman in her 70s, named Jan. She’s one of God’s good gifts into my life, and has caught on to this means of planting seed like it is the best thing since sliced bread. Week by week she has outrun me in storytelling. Joshua at Rite Aid heard about his namesake, the little lady in the Post Office line, the man in the Dr’s office, the man in front of Winco. Time and again she has told a story and asked the one question she has learned so far: “What does that story say to you today?”
Rather than celebrating how God is growing her boldness, I’ve felt guilty believing I was failing God somehow. I’ve felt ashamed that I did not measure up to what the Lord wanted of me. But then on Sunday, February 14th Jesus had a chat with me. Here’s what I received,
“You were stressed yesterday about interrupting people. What if you rather viewed this as not in interruption but as engagement for Me. You give people the option of listening, then just let Me work. As it is neither of us has much chance, for you decide for others what they feel. Truly you don’t need to do this. Truly.”
Jesus is so out for change and freedom and has a heart for everyone. This word was true. I did narrate in my head what I thought might be going on for others. Again, I knew this storytelling business was not about me, anyway, it was and is about God and his immense love for people.
So this morning I was at the pool, finished my swim and shower and was in the dressing room area. Dave, an older guy I have told a couple stories to previously, was in there getting dressed too. The Holy Spirit whispered, “Ask him if he would like his Bible Story for today.” There were two other guys in there as well.
So, I went up and said: “So, Dave, you ready for your Bible story today?”
Knowing he views himself as an agnostic, I didn’t expect him to welcome a story. But instead, he kind of grunted,
“Well, what is it?”
That’s all the encouragement I needed. I told the story of Peter and John going to the temple to pray when the man, lame from birth, whom we are later told was over 40 years old, is healed. When the man leaped to his feet and began walking, leaping and praising God, the man across the dressing room from us, overhearing this story, laughed out loud.
Dave said, “Wow. That’s faith!” And he was done, got up and walked around to a stall. But I turned to the man who had laughed and said,
“Have you ever heard that story before?”
“Nah, never” he said. “Our pastor tells a joke every week from the pulpit but never heard that one!”
I responded: “Well, that story comes right out of the Bible. You can look it up in Acts chapter 3.”
“Really?” he said, “I’m going to go home and do that.”
We chatted a few more minutes before I had to go.
This pre-Camino path I’m walking, can help people engage with God in a living, real way. Like Jesus said, “You give people the option then let me work.”