“They had a story to tell, too…” (Acts 21:20 The Message)
Last week, on March 16, 2007 my boys and I traveled to Rochester, NY to hear a terrific Christian concert. Because the concert would end very late, we rented a hotel room for the night, fully intending to return home the following morning. We had been looking forward to this trip with great anticipation; but what we didn’t anticipate was that we would be snowed in for two days as the last snowstorm of the season ravished the Great Lakes!
Being away from home for longer than anticipated always provides a few challenges. Fortunately, my wife had opted out of the concert and was safely back home. She could take care of the home responsibilities. But how could I continue to take care of our online ministry?
Fortunately, the hotel where we were staying provided computer and internet access in the lobby, and that is where I was when an elderly gentleman approached me:
“Are you from Canada?”
I turned around. What was it about me that had given away my nationality? I smiled, and we soon entered into conversation. It wasn’t long before his wife joined us, and I soon learned that a close friend had died in South Dakota and they were waiting in the lobby for a ride to the nearby airport. In fact, I soon was privy to their entire schedule for the next few days!
The lady seemed quite upset by the loss of her friend, and as I looked at her, I grew convicted to say: “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?”
“How do you know?” She asked, bewildered.
“I see you are wearing a cross.”
She looked down on her blouse, amazed that someone would notice something as little as the cross she had put on. “Yes I am!”
“Then you know that there is great rejoicing in heaven right now!”
She started to smile and nodded her head.
“We Christians know where we’re heading. We don’t fear death, we see it as something to be embraced, even eagerly anticipated!”
“I wonder how atheists handle these situations?” She asked. “When someone close to them passes away, they don’t have that hope!”
She then opened up to me, and over the course of the next half hour, she shared her story. She told me how she met her husband, who was a retired electrician; she talked about how proud she was of her children and her grandchildren; then in great detail, she told me about each one of them. I’m not very good at remembering names, so I couldn’t help but hope that she wouldn’t quiz me afterwards! I wasn’t too worried, however, for it seemed that all she really needed was for someone to listen to her story. In fact, the longer she talked, the more excited she became; and it didn’t take long for the mantle of sadness that she had initially worn to be replaced with genuine peace and happiness.
It is amazing how one caring word can change things around. Sometime in life, everyone hungers to tell their story. It isn’t always easy to find someone to confide in, however. Everybody is so rushed in their pursuit of life that no one has time for the things that are really important.
Jesus says: “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence – and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” (Luke 10:27 The Message) One day every one of us will want to share our own story. If we never take the time to listen to others, who will be there to listen to us?
We must realize however, that not everyone has an upbeat story to tell. In fact, the stories of some are downright depressing. Broken promises reign, unforgiveness dominates the landscape, and sin abounds. As followers of Christ, we, whose live have also likely had some nauseating moments, can tell a story of hope. A story where the Hero is our loving Heavenly Father, who scooped us out of the desperate vices of sin, turned our lives around, and fills us with radiant hope!
As Christians, we know where we are heading and our stories have one thing in common: “Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: ‘They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.’ None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Rom 8:35-39 The Message)
If I had just one message to share with my loved ones who have lost their way in life, it would be this one: “You are loved. Much more than you ever thought it was possible!” Therefore: “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Heb 12:2-3 The Message)
What is your story, my friend? I welcome you to share it with me.
(To access the entire “Ruthless Pursuit of Gold” devotional series, please click here.)