Newaygo United Church of Christ
love to tell the story/Twill be my theme in glory/To tell the old, old story/Of
Jesus and his love. - Katherine Hankey
am, by nature, a story-teller. If you were to
place an family photo album in front of me and offer to leaf through it while I told you
about each picture, I suspect we wouldnt get through the whole book in less than two
to three hours. I can find a story in every
snapshot, in every scene. The Russian author
Leo Tolstoi once remarked that human beings can survive anything they can tell a story
about and I know that to be true. I have worked through the deepest pain, the most
treacherous problems, and the annoying dilemmas of my life by picking through their
meanings and then constructing some sort of narrative.
My life is held together by the stories I have been told and by the story I,
in turn, have shared with others.
also know that my storytelling is not a private venture.
My tales connect with those of my family, with those of my country, and with
those who share my culture and education. Their
morals, patterns, variations, and conundrums inform how I understand my own life, how I
convey what I believe my life to mean. As I
travel the paths of my stories, I find my common ground with all other human beings. Through them I begin to understand their joys,
sorrows, angers, and astonishments. I also
believe that if I travel down their turns and twists long enough I will find my way to
the bottom of my life is God, the God I discovered through church worship, family prayer,
and careful reading of the Bible. As a child,
I enjoyed thumbing through my picture bible. When
I was older, I convinced some of the kids I knew to play-act our way through the stories
of David, Saul, Moses, and Abraham. I have
found myself writing puppet plays based on Jonah and Noah.
As I reflect, it does not surprise me that I found my way into the ministry. The stories I first encountered in that picture
bible have worked their way into my life-into how I approach moral questions, into how I
solve the problems I have faced. In the end,
it is through those stories that I know what I know about God.
theres more-what I know about God comes through the stories of Jesus. His ways of healing, of self-giving sacrifice, of
non-violence, of siding with the underdog, of total reliance on Gods grace, and of
resurrection have called into question some of what I used to value, have prompted me to
ask hard questions, and have encouraged me to be more open to how God really works. Those stories are a running commentary on my life,
a path-finder when I find myself off-track, and a source of hope when I find the ugliness,
the murder, the disposability of this world too overwhelming. Even in my darkest moments, the old, old story of
Jesus and his love (lines from my favorite hymn) urge me to get up and start anew.
Because I know I have to make a choice. I can
settle for despair or I can choose hope. I
can resign myself to death or I can trust resurrection.
I can believe in power games and endless war or I can work for world where
peace and cooperation are possible. Simply
put, I can give up and give in or I can struggle for the love, equality, and possibility
that comes through the grace of God. Though I
falter from time to time, I choose to hang onto the story because it makes a difference
which story I hang onto. It makes a
difference to me and it makes a difference to God.
also makes a difference which story you hang onto as well.
whats your story?