The room was filled with jostling men, all dressed in white and shifting from one foot to the other, waiting. Suddenly a murmur went through the crowd as a young man made his way up to the stage. He was clearly nervous, his hands shaking and sweat beading his brow. As he turned to face the prisoners, his eyes took in the room full of faces staring up at him and his knees went weak.
Really? he thought. Why me, God? There’s nothing important about what I’m going to say.
But he took a deep breath and began.
The Bible has a few stories that seem a little out of place. We might read them and wonder, Why is this here? For example, Genesis 38 is the story of Judah and Tamar. In chapter 37, Joseph has just been sold to Potiphar in Egypt. In chapter 39, he’s working away in Potiphar’s house. We’re right in the middle of the story of Joseph, and chapter 38 seems to have nothing to do with the rest of story. Why is it there?
How about Acts 20:9–12? Eutychus, a guy who’s listening to Paul’s sermon, falls asleep, takes a tumble out of the window and dies. Paul brings the guy back to life, but it feels like an odd detail to include in the bigger story.
Are these seemingly random or unimportant stories really as random as we think? Are our stories more than just random detours in the bigger picture?
There’s Power in Our Stories
The nervous guy I told you about earlier shared his story with a room full of prisoners. It didn’t seem like anything special. He hadn’t lived an exciting, crime-filled life and then experienced a drastic turnaround. He’d grown up in a Christian home with loving parents and siblings and had gone to church his entire life. There was a short period when he’d grown distant from the Lord, but that had been in high school. His story felt out of place compared with the stories of the men who were listening.
And yet after he shared his story, an inmate came up to him and said, “I needed to hear that. I grew up in church with a great family but went off the tracks. I’m distant from the Lord right now, and I want to grow closer to Him.” Suddenly, an “insignificant” story became very significant to someone else.
That’s the power of stories.
Whether it’s the young man sharing with prisoners or a Bible story, these stories are important. Just like your own story.
You may not write for a blog.
You may not have a ton of friends.
You may not even want to talk about your story.
But someone needs to hear it.
That’s why God’s Word gives these instructions: “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe” (Ps. 107:2).
You never know when a person is going through something similar to what you’ve gone through and they’re feeling very alone. Our stories provide a sense of security, encouragement, and friendship. They chase away the feeling of, “I’m the only one who’s experienced this.”
Are you ready to tell your story, trusting God will use it to encourage someone else? Here are three ways to do it.
1. Journal it.
This will organize your thoughts on paper. You may realize things about yourself that you didn’t even know before writing it down and reading it over! Journaling will make it easier to communicate with others if you have taken the time to rehearse your own story.
Here are some journal prompts to get you started.
- Looking back, what events stand out as significant in my story?
- What or who did God use to draw me to Himself?
- What parts of my story are unfinished? Where is God still working?
- What do I want people to know about God because of my story?
- How have I seen God’s good faithfulness at work in my life? (Remember, it’s all about Him!)
2. Share a lesson you’ve learned.
What if you’re not comfortable telling your entire story just yet? Share with someone one lesson that you’ve learned from what you’ve been through. God is in the business of turning our messes into messages about Him. You never know how sharing what He has taught you will touch them.
3. Ask to share.
Ask your youth pastor or small group leader if you can share your story at church. One of the reasons God asks us to gather with other Christians is so that we can encourage each other often (1 Thess. 5:11). Find a way to encourage other Christians with your story.
God is in the business of turning our messes into messages about Him.
Psalm 139:14 reminds us, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
You are unique. Your story is unique. What God has done in your life is incredible! Will you share your story? Someone needs to hear it. They need the encouragement and insight of your story. It’s up to you.
What’s one thing from your life story that you’ve learned? I want to hear! Tell me about it below.