Our house church just got back from a retreat together and one of my favorite parts of the weekend was taking time to sit and listen to some of each other’s stories.
I use the word “story” here very intentionally, we often share testimonies in church, and those have become known as a particular type of story that focuses very specifically around when someone started following Jesus. And don’t get me wrong, I love a good testimony- But someone’s story has so much more freedom to go places that a testimony might leave out. Our stories are a small piece of our identity and hopefully our identity in Christ. We want to do a better job remembering all the stories that God has given us.
Telling the stories of God is probably one of the most Biblical things we can do, and yet, I feel like we need the reminder to take the time to do it. For instance, in the Old Testament, there are at least 87 references to God bringing His people out of slavery in Egypt! Shocking that people would need to be reminded of something that incredible! And yet, if you think about your own life- you’re probably not that shocked. We’re forgetful. God warns the people of this tendency by giving them this command:
“You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well.”1
Remembering the Story
Yes, we are so very forgetful, aren’t we? This is why we must be diligent to write down our stories. If you haven’t already taken the time, I urge you to take time to list, or even write the details, of the moments that God has moved mightily in your life. The scars that shape us, the victories that mold us; while at the time, we think we’ll never forget-inevitably we do.
Thankfully God not only tells us how forgetful we will be, but he also gives us tools to help us not forget. In 1 Samuel 7:12 we see Samuel take a stone and set it between the place where God had delivered Israel. He named the stone Ebenezer which meant “God has helped us thus far.”
Every time that stone was passed, the people would inevitably be reminded of what God had done, they would hopefully replay the events in their minds, and the next time they faced trouble, their faith would be strengthened. We see this visual aid in Joshua as well after God miraculously stops up the Jordan river so that the people can cross over. He has the leaders pick up stones in the riverbed to make a memorial marker, saying “In the future, your children will ask you, What do these stones mean?” Then you will tell them. 2
Tell the Story
We are not only not to forget what the Lord has done, but we are to do so by telling others the stories of what God has done.
Yes, the act of telling our God stories helps us remember. But our stories help the next generation stay grounded in Christ’s identity before they even have their own stories to tell! I grew up with countless books about missionaries and Bible stories, but maybe even more important in the foundation of my faith, were my parent’s stories. Hearing how my parents got saved, how God had moved mightily during their college years, how they’d made the decision to give up a lot of things move to the town where I grew up (because they felt God called them there). I don’t know when I learned these stories- in most of them, I was either very small or not even born yet!
But all these stories were part of my own spiritual DNA. Even hard stories about going hungry so the babies could eat, or the winter where we all lived in one room because that was all we could afford to heat- these stories are what my own faith was built upon!
In the same way, I tell these same stories to my own children, adding my own stories too. For each generation must add their own.
Adding to the Stories
Many Jews to this day, have a strong sense of identity because of the stories of their people, we as believers should have a similar sense of security in our identity. Let us not grow weary in telling the stories that God has given us.
Let us take the time to document our own spiritual stories 3, ask your spiritual parents and grandparents to hear their own stories if you don’t already know them.
In the same way, tell your spiritual children the stories of their past. As the days grow darker, we must stand firmly on the solid rock of what God has done so that we may have faith for what He will do in days ahead.
Questions to Ask (and Answer)
Here are some questions to get you started as you tell your own stories or as you ask others about their own.
1. How did you come to know the Lord? (surely you know this one already!)
2. Tell me about some of the people who have influenced your life?
3. Tell me about a time when you had to obey the Lord’s lordship over your life? How did it turn out?
4. Have you ever experienced a miracle?