The great command is all about love..."Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength....and love your neighbour as yourself." And there is nothing more compelling than love stories.
Love is made up of a series of special moments. Think of a time that was special for you with your husband, wife, friend, kids. Was it facts like their age, hair color, day of week that you recall or was it the events, scenes, feelings?
Love is a tapestry of our stories, memories.
God's love letter to us, the Bible, is a tapestry of stories.
We all have a story...but maybe that story is more important than we think. Stories only come out of relationships - good or bad. But where there is no relationship there is no story.
The big question therefore is that if we truly love God, our neighbours and ourself what are our stories?
Most intense stories are from first love experiences. Even more so when the poor, hard done by girl meets the royal prince. Fairy tales abound with these types of stories. Such a story is this...
Jesus meets a crazy, poor, rejected man in a graveyard. He is totally down and out. Rejected and despised. He meets Jesus for the first time and his life is changed. He is saved and clothed and changed forever. The classic tale. But how does it end?
Jesus instructs him (Legion) to tell his story -
“Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had - mercy on you.” (Mk 5:19).
And the result...did he do it?
Of course! He was in love - "So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed." (Mk 5:20)
First Love - Story 2
This love story flows directly into the next one...Another first love story.
This time it is a woman who had been seeking for 12 years for someone to truly care for her. She too is rejected, despised, and without hope int this world. And then she meets the "knight in shining armour" - or more likely travel-stained robes. She meets Jesus in the throng of a busting crowd. She reaches out and touches Jesus and her life is changed forever! The result?
She is compelled to share her story...
"Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth." (Mk 5:33)
First Love - Story 3
Does it end there? No! This love story flows straight into the next one. In fact as this story was unfolding Jesus was actually on his way to the house of a man in desperate need. His daughter was dying, and no one could help. By the time Jesus arrives his daughter is dead, and it would seem that this tragedy can have no happy ending. Yet Jesus dismisses the mocking of the professional mourners and proceeds to raise the little girl. Jairus' life is changed forever - his most precious gift is returned - but more than that, he has experienced love eternal. And what happened after that?
"News of this spread through all that region." (Matt 9:26) - The story was told, and retold, and retold...
Have you ever had something that you were just desperate to share? Something happened to you, or you heard something amazing and you just want to share it. You might even look for any vaguely associated opportunity to use so you can leap to your story. "Talking of cats, the other day our builder, who has a cat, told me about what happened to his car....", and so you proceed to share the story with the most tenuous of links.
Some things are just impossible to keep secret. When we have met Jesus and felt his love, it is an impossible secret.
"Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region." (Matt 9:29-31)
Jesus is the impossible secret - "Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret." (Mk 7:2)
Has Jesus entered our house, our life but we "could not keep his presence secret"? It just shines out our faces? In how we behave, speak, think?
Share Your Story
We are called to share our story, just like so many in the Bible did. Paul did not preach with clever words but with stories - "And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony (my story) about God." (1Cor 2:1)
You can imagine sitting down to a meal and being captivating by Paul saying, "You know that I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city....Well one day..." (Acts 22:3)
Why do we share stories?
Firstly because we are compelled to. When we have experienced something has exciting as Jesus we cannot but share our story, our experiences. However there is another part to this too. It is not just to impact others but to save us too. Our stories, as did the stories of Legion, Jairus, Paul, etc impact the lives of others in a profound way, but they also save us too.
"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (story)" (Rev 12:11,17) - Wow! We overcome by our stories because they reflect was is really important to us.
The BIG Question is - Do I have a story?
If not, is it because we haven't let God write us one yet?
"You are a letter from Christ" (2Cor 3:3) -
When was the last time we delivered Jesus' letter to someone?
When did we share our story?
What is my story?
The story is not sharing what we know but rather whom we have known.
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story" (Ps 107:1-2)