I have a thing about community. It is something I crave, yet long to share…
As far as I’m concerned, in one more week or so, Summer has officially begun! Here in the Pacific Northwest, Summer is our reward for enduring multiple seasons of cold, gray, and rainy. Boy let me tell you, this Spring sure has been long, cold, and dreary!
I get so excited for the turning of the seasons, I can’t wait for summer to officially begin! My kids dream of summer, long days where the sun never seems to set and friends are always out to play. The smell of family barbeques dance in the air, inviting all those nearby to enjoy hamburgers, baked beans, and homemade pie. I love gathering together to enjoy the warmth and glow of the summer days in fellowship, feasting on the seasons finest.
This time of year it’s customary to bring family favorite dishes, tried and true and recipes, when joining a summer barbeque with loved ones. Guests fill their plates, reminded of similar recipes in their own family history, and chat about the subtle differences and similarities. While they may never fully agree whose version of the dish is the best, one thing is understood: the stories that tell of the traditions and experiences behind the recipes, help the recipes come to life and provide a new level of understanding and significance to the dish. Stories are powerful that way.
Stories create a bridge for us when we encounter the unfamiliar or disagreeable, and take us to where we can understand and relate.
Since finding my faith many years ago, I have shared the Good News with others by sharing my story, a story of God’s loving and unrelenting pursuit to restore me. While there are chapters of my story where I would love to quickly turn the pages, the Spirit encourages me to pause, reflect, and share those pages. The pages that seem the darkest, are where our Father’s love shines the brightest. This is how a bridge to understanding is built, and we have an extraordinary heavenly architect!
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he discusses the importance of not just sharing the Gospel with others, but sharing ourselves, our hearts, our stories. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too. (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NLT) Don’t discount that sometimes the very way God chooses to show others His love and redemption, is through the relationships we form with others and how we share our lives with them. I find comfort in this. While I long to share the Good News with others so that they may experience the same peace and life I have been given, decades into my faith, I still hesitate when an opportunity appears. What if I get it wrong? What if I get my verses mixed up? What if they ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to? Even worse, what if they shut me down before I begin?
Dearest friends, there is something beautiful that our Father has equipped us with for sharing the Good News. You can’t get this wrong, you can answer every question, you are the expert and most perfect person for this…your story. Your story of how you came to relationship with God, your story of once being lost and then being found, or perhaps your story of how you came to a place of faith that was all your own. Share as little or as much as you feel comfortable, this may change over time or depend on the person you are with. This story never grows old, it never concludes while we are here in this life. With each passing day, you’ll be able to look back and see God’s love and His plan for you. Behold as the story He has written for you is revealed.
Each day that we are given breath, prepares us for the person tomorrow who longs for hope, love, and purpose.
We are in a time where there are so many who are lonely and thirsty for real connection. Your story of God’s ultimate sacrifice and love for you, could be the bridge that carries them to the Living Water who has been pursuing them all along. You are incredible, and you are made for this!
We might hesitate to bring our favorite family recipe to the summer barbeque. We fear judgement, we fear someone might bring the same thing only better, that others will not embrace what we have to offer. Friends, you have so much to share. Your recipe is uniquely you. When you invite others to taste and see, while providing the history behind each bite and sip that you are offering, you are gifting something so sweet, so rich. Never mind if there are similar recipes, if yours is a little more charred than others, a little more delicate or complex. At our Father’s table, there is a seat waiting that is reserved just for you, and a place on the table for your sweetest recipe. Let us feast together, and make sure to invite others, there’s plenty of room, and that is Good News!