The Freedom of Remembering our Stories in Light of God’s Story
JULY 14, 2014
As we examine our stories in light of God’s Story, we come closer to seeing our triumphs and tragedies, sins and sanctification through a gospel lens.
We find our tragedies are redeemed and we are given a new name, a new family. Our frozen hearts are thawed, and we are invited to join in writing the rest of our story.
In his book Telling Secrets, Frederick Buechner writes,
[We must] keep track… of our stories; who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way. It is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity, … that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally. …To lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually.
Ah, so this is where I begin to fit in with David and Esther, Moses and Sarah, Samson and Rahab. They aren’t Sunday school stories anymore. They are raw, beautiful, horrible stories—real flesh and blood stories, and mine is among them. We are all part of the Larger Story. All of our tragedies, hopes, comedies, and fairy tales blend together, weaving into the One Great Story: the Story of Redemption. Buechner says,
The God of biblical faith … began history in the first place. He is also a God who moment by moment, day by day, continues to act in history. He acts in the history that gets written down in the New York Times in the same way he acts in my history and your history, which may not get written down anywhere … The Exodus, the Covenant, the Entry into the Promised Land—such mighty acts of God appear in Scripture, but are no less mighty than the acts of God as they appear in our own lives.
What is your part of the story?
Do you hide? Do you alter your story? Do you tell a better story of yourself than is true? Moses and Sarah, Samson and Rahab did not. Are you tempted to squeeze your story into a preconceived idea of what you think others want you to be—one that would serve as a good role model? Maybe you try to hide some pieces of your story in hopes that they didn’t really happen. Sadly, this temptation is often greatest for those of us in the church, and especially for those of us in ministry. We truly want our churches to succeed; so shouldn’t we hide our sins, or squelch who we really are for the sake of the Church? Or for self -preservation? You may have been deeply hurt in ministry and, quite frankly, may have good reason not to open up to others. Why take the risk?
It is for freedom Christ has set us free.
~The Apostle Paulapo
This freedom liberates us from being conformed to the image of the world (those nagging inner voices that tell us we need to hide who we really are to please others). It reminds us of our true identity in Christ. We are free to be vulnerable because it is Christ who defines us.
Often in church leadership we feel we need to be cautious with what we say and how much we share of ourselves. It is vitally important we create environments and communities where we can share our stories as we grow. Telling our stories is one of the most caring and liberating things we can do for each other.
Remembering the bad parts of our story may be painful and provoke deep questions about the meaning of our lives and what God has for us. But remembering reminds us, and others, of what Christ has done for us. Remembering inspires faith and encourages us to dream of the redemption yet to come while we are yet in the middle of painful unfinished stories. Remembering draws us to hope in our One True Hope. As we remember with others, we are all reminded how our lives and stories are part of the Great Story God is writing. It is in this Great Story we find the courage to love each other and God with abandon!
This is true freedom!
We hope you find great courage to tell your story—it’s one of the most meaningful and powerful ways to recount the marvelous deeds God has done.
God leads us step by step, from event to event. Only afterwards, as we look back over the way we have come and reconsider certain important moments in our lives in the light of all that has followed them, or when we survey the whole progress of our lives, do we experience the feeling of having been led without knowing it, the feeling that God has mysteriously guided us. Time has to elapse to enable us to see it.
—Paul Tournier, Reflections