[As appeared on The Star Tribune] Time and time again in the Bible, the people of God share their stories and the stories of God’s people.
This is an important part of how God ministers to His people. Our tendencies to forget who we are, to forget who God is, and to forget what He has done for us are pervasive. When we remind each other of our stories and God’s stories, we start to take on the perspective that God has for us. It is difficult to feel alone when we remember all the times God has been by our side. It is difficult to feel afraid when we remember everything God has saved us from. It is difficult to feel unloved when we remember where we came from and what God sacrificed to get us to where we are.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
-Psalm 107:2 (NIV)
The call to share stories is a thread that is woven through the history of God’s people. In Genesis 9:13, God explains that He set his bow in the clouds as a signal to remember the covenant between Himself and humankind.
God calls Joshua to build an altar after parting the river Jordan so the people of Israel can tell their children that “the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever” (Jos 4:7 ESV).
When King Josiah finds the Book of the Law, he has it read to all of Judah so the people could remember who they were and repent before God. In Stephen’s speech before the council in Acts 7, he goes through the history of Israel to give context for the appearance of the Messiah.
But the people of God are not the only ones who tell stories.
The enemies of God’s people have their own perspectives to share. The first lie of the Garden of Eden is Satan questioning Adam and Eve’s interpretation of God’s commands. “Did He really say that?”
The memory of Joseph saving Egypt fades under a new king as the narrative of the Hebrew people shifts to a dangerous and disloyal people, used to justify their enslavement (Exodus 1).
In 2 Kings 18, Rabshakeh tells the people of Israel that God will turn on King Hezekiah because he removed the forbidden high places. Rabshakeh claims those were God’s high places.
Satan tries to reuse his strategy of twisting God’s words during the temptation of Jesus in the desert. In the book of Acts, enemies of the early church repeatedly frame the people of God as troublemakers, acting against God’s will and commandments.
When the Bible says the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy, warping our perspective is one of his main methods. Satan can’t take our freedom from us, but he can tell us that we are and always have been trapped. He cannot take away the joy that God offers, but he can tell us that our life is not as it should be. He cannot stop God from giving peace, but he can tell us that everything in our past tells us that we need to be scared of everything in our future. Where God wants to use our stories to speak life, we far too often let people write our stories for us in a way that speaks pessimism and death.
God gives us a choice. Were the people of God going to believe Rabshakeh or Hezekiah? Josiah’s Book of the Law or how they have always done things? Satan’s interpretation or the word of God they were given? Walk in the stories people tell about them or into the new stories God is writing with them?
We have these choices every day. Am I going to walk into the new story God is writing about me? Is the story of my past about redemption or mistakes? Am I what my fears say about me or what God says about me? What we find is that these choices lead us on the paths to transformation and life or stagnation and death. The more steps we walk on the path of life, the more choices we make to choose God’s story, the more time we spend with people who remind us of who we are, the more we find the love, joy, and peace God promised.
Spend some time today thinking about your story. How would God retell that story? What do you think is in the next chapter of God’s story for you? The God of the universe, the One who loves you more than everyone else combined, wants to speak into your story. And your story will become a better one each and every time you let Him.
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