Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Share Your Story

My undergraduate degree is in English. In the four years that I was attending school, I read a great number of books and stories as well as wrote a great many papers and stories. However, there were moments when I would experience “writer’s block”. It is a term used by individuals to describe that moment when they just can’t find a stream of thought that would allow them to easily write a story. During those moments, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t seem to put the right words together. Sometimes, I would doodle and just let my mind wander a bit. Other times, I would take a walk or get a cup of coffee and hope that something would just pop into my head that would start my story.

As I reflected on those moments, I quickly realized that the story and words were right there in front of me, but I was trying to create a literary masterpiece. When I try to use flowery language and impress others with my command of the English language, that is where things begin to bog down and cause me to experience “writer’s block”.

Many years ago, I was asked to write down my testimony and deliver it to the congregation. I thought about the request and figured that I could easily put into words what had happened in my life that led me to my relationship with the Lord. Well, it was harder than I expected.

I sat quietly in my study staring at a blank computer screen with a flashing cursor waiting for my first word. Each time I started to write, I immediately deleted the few words that I managed to type. They just didn’t seem right. I even tried using the standard children’s book approach and started with “Once upon a time”. To make matters even worse, I added, “in a galaxy far, far away”. Yes. I tried everything. I walked around the house, went outside, put it aside for awhile and used all of the tricks and techniques of writers to take that first step in writing my story.

As I sat, once again, in front of my computer, I thought of the other times when I had to write my story. Everyone has, while in school, been given the opportunity to write about himself or herself. Think back a bit. There was that one assignment given to you by your teacher to write your autobiography. To make matters even worse, you had to read it aloud to the rest of the class. Remember how you felt about it?

I felt the same way about writing my testimony and reading it to the entire congregation. We all want our stories to be exciting and filled with great moments and events. We imagine that our stories would be turned into a movie of epic proportion sort of like “The Ten Commandments”. 

As we begin to think about the events in our lives, we soon realize that not all events are dramatic and full of fireworks and marching bands. We, for the most part, have very simple lives that don’t have a lot of pomp and circumstance. We do experience moments of turmoil and ordeal, but when you average all of the ups and downs, our lives are uneventful. Most of the time, we lead very simple and smooth lives.

If we were to compare our lives to flying, we would soon realize that most of it is boring, but there would be moments of terror.

The great American military pilot, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, said this about flying, “Flying is hours and hours of boredom sprinkled with a few seconds of sheer terror.”

When you think about what he said about flying and compare it to life you begin to see that there are moments in our lives that are filled with sheer terror. It is during those moments that our faith comes into play and helps us cope. Those moments are the ones we need to share. Because of them, our relationship with the Lord is strengthened and we begin to realize that God’s grace is truly sufficient in all cases.

When I thought about my life in that context, I began to tell my story of how I had lost my way because of anger with God and how I didn’t want to have a relationship with Him. As I relived those moments, I realized that my testimony is special not only to me but also to others who are or were going through a similar situation. By sharing those moments of sheer terror with others, we help strengthen them and build stronger relationships with God the Father. It is not enough to just share the great moments. We must share all the moments, good or bad, that make up our lives. 

As believers we are called upon to share our testimonies with others in order to tell them about God’s love and plan of salvation for all. We must, at a moment's notice, be prepared to share our stories and how we faced those moments of terror.

Peter, in chapter three of his first epistle, writes, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

There are a couple of key elements that we need to use when we give our stories to those who ask about our faith. The first is to be ready. I encourage each of you to think about your faith and write down your reason for accepting Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord of your life. The other is to be gentle and respectful. Remember, no one saves another. God is the only one who gives salvation freely to those who accept His son as their Savior. All you need to do is plant the seed. If the ground is fertile, the seed will sprout and grow. If someone doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, that is fine as well. All you can do is be respectful. If they speak out against you, don’t return evil with evil. Let your good life speak for itself.

It might take a little time for the seed to sprout and grow, but you, at least, sowed the seed by sharing your story of love and salvation and how you were able to overcome your moments of sheer terror.

By being ready to share your testimony in a gentle and respectful way, Father God will provide you with the opportunities to share it with others. He will see your work and reward you for it. Just be ready and always stand firm in His grace. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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