A couple nights ago I wound up playing a game with a few of my friends. This is a strong indicator that hanging out with me could turn into a very boring event. So, here we are sitting outside of a frozen yogurt place and I force them to think about their summers and sum it all up in one word and then on top of that think of a metaphor or simile they would use to describe it. I'm thinking it would be wise to simply carry around catch phrase so that I don't force others to play weird made up games when I'm bored. Anyway, my friends were actually good sports and they played along. And I LOVED IT. We had great metaphors, great similes, great words! For example a couple of them were, "Encouraging. It was like doing an ironman with no time limit." "Humbling. It was like when a grandfather holds his grandchild for the first time." "Revealing. It was like only being allowed to take one thing with you to a deserted island." "Freedom. It was like the speech a general gives to his troops before battle." I loved it because there was something to discover beyond their responses. There were experiences, there were relationships, there were emotions that went into their similes. There was a story.
Story. Why is it when I type that word I have to stop and look at it for a while; I have to let my heart take a breathe of air? I look at that word and I think power. I think glory. I think freedom. I think heartache. I think pain. I think honesty. I think GOD and then I thank Him. What would happen if we all looked at our stories; if we all took hold of our pasts and our present and held them up in our small hands to God? What would happen if we weren't gripped by fear thinking about dealing with the pain and trauma that happened to us; if we eradicated them of lies? What would happen if we could take those stories and put them in God's Hands? If we could place them down and then say "You make me new, you are making me new." What if we could look back and instead of feeling shame, we felt the power of God whispering, "My power is made perfect in weakness...For when you are weak, then you are strong."
Imagine (another one of my favorite words) the weapons that we would have against the enemy if we allowed God to turn our stories from ones of captivity, heartache, shame, burdens of great weight, pride, and sin into perfectionistic-breaking, mask-shattering NEON signs of His Glory and Love. WHOA! We would be a force to reckon with. Coming alongside those who were trembling from depression, loneliness, stress, exhaustion, pain, and fear and kneeling down to embrace them because we understand what it means to be lost. Coming alongside the prideful and being bold enough to say something because we know we've felt the same things and thought the same way. Letting our ministry being ones of "I've been there" instead of "You shouldn't be there". WHOA, WHOA, DOUBLE WHOA. That would be the ultimate welcome to church-the body compared to church-the place.
So, I think that will be my prayer for a while. That we as the church will learn to take our stories, the good and the bad, and lay them down, whatever that means for us. Whether that means having to cry for a while, having to tell them to someone, having to read truth so that we can see the lies for the first time, having to jump up and down in joy and celebration, or having to talk to others in our past to find closure. That will be my prayer. I pray that for you and me. That our stories would cause the demons to tremble in fear, not smile in victory. "Satan, in the name of Christ, take your hands out of the minds of my brothers and sisters. Once your lies are discovered, they hold no more power...sucker! God, move in and begin to reveal truth, show us that a story cannot be told without first taking off the mask that we so often wear. Help us to use our stories as weapons of mass destruction against the demons of the spiritual world. I pray this for every one of my brothers and sisters, who I love a lot God, and also for me."