BY PASTOR JOHN CHA
Our “To Be Told” conference is starting soon. And as we discuss more about stories at our church, I’m eager to see God open doors in and through us.
OUR STORIES ARE OPEN DOORS TO WELCOME OTHERS. I’d like for us to know our stories more because our stories can connect us to others. This is important for us personally and for our church. A story is one of the most gracious expressions of welcome, warmth, community, and hospitality. You can offer a seat. You can even offer a drink. But it’s after a person shares an embarrassing story or a personal story, you feel invited and welcomed. Leanne and I have an old kitchen table where we’ve had numerous conversations with many of you and many of our Open Door guests. We boil some tea. Sit. Chit chat. But the real hospitality and connection happens when we begin to share our stories. And, better yet, when our guests share their stories with us. Our stories are incredible gifts from God – and, when we are ready, we can share with others. Stories are very welcoming. I think that’s why the Bible is presented as a story. Because through the Bible, God hospitably welcomes us to sit down with Him as He tells us His story.
OUR STORIES ARE OPEN DOORS TO LIFE-CHANGE. I want us to know our stories because they offer powerful doorways to life-changing grace. I cannot let God enter my life, unless I let Him into my story. I can experience God through principles and teachings, but only as I let these truths be “edited” and revised into the paragraphs of my everyday life, can I experience life-change that really does that … change my life. On bad days, I can feign my experience of God by reciting second-hand what others have said. I’m almost reading their stories, borrowing vicariously through their experiences, and then quoting them! But unless I let God into my own story, I won’t be able to share first-hand of what He has done in my life. I’ve found a pretty strong correlation between my spiritual life and the story-ness of my life. There have been times when I plateaued spiritually, stagnated, and even dipped. My journals read like a dry textbook. Very safe. Very proper. Lots of “should’ves” and “ought tos” … and that’s it. But then, there are times when, by God’s grace, I’m thriving and flourishing. My journal reads like a novel. Names, dates, people, places, details, sights, and colors. And God is clearly co-authoring with me. Surprising twists and turns. Some adventure. Some intense dialogue. Some mystery/suspense (… I could publish these!). Again, I think that’s why the Bible is a story, and why 70% of it reads like a novel. God changes our lives in the context of His story!
Stories open doors.