Joel talking in front of Spring Arbor FMC santuary while Janette watches

Our last telling of the story

We all love a good story.  The drama, the action, the unresolved conflict- all of these draw us in and engage our imaginations.  As we share the Missional Millers story and the Hope Africa story, I sometimes wonder if we are adequately communicating those exciting things that God is doing in and around us.   I am learning that there is a deeper Story behind our time-bound and vision-limited stories.

Let’s Hear It for Fathers-in-Law!

I was reading the Exodus story recently.  The second book of the Bible has a lot to do with telling (and retelling) the stories…of God’s faithfulness, of humanity’s striving to make our own way.  I appreciated an interesting detail from chapter 18.  Look at verses 8-9:

Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.  Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.

Moses tells his father-in-law the amazing story of God’s dramatic rescue.  I’m challenged by Jethro’s response- he was delighted by the story.  I have to be honest here.  I am not the story-teller in the family.  I would prefer to listen to others’ stories or recount a story in a letter to you.  Perhaps Jethro was delighted because of the way Moses told the story.  Oh wait, this is the same Moses who, in Exodus 4:10 says “O Lord, I have never been eloquent…I am slow of speech and tongue.”  So how could his father-in-law be delighted by the story?

Let’s Keep the Focus on God

The good news is that the story itself is the cause for delight.  When I am telling God’s story, the power depends on God not on me.  My dry bones delivery can come to life as God’s Spirit translates it into your circumstance.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer says (paraphrasing) that we ought not try to pray or read the Scripture in dramatic voice when we are gathered together.  When we do, we take the focus off of the Word and put it on ourselves and so the message loses some of its power.  Your response is not dependent on my charismatic delivery, the attractiveness of the speaker (thank goodness for that), or on the use of just the right word or phrase.  Jethro clearly attributes the power of this story to God.

What Jethro does with that delight is a good reminder for me as I consider how to tell God’s story.  He doesn’t just revel in that delight and then go home a delighted man.  No, he responds by praising God (verses 10-11) and by giving sacrificially (verse 12).  If my desire is for God to be glorified and to receive the praise due Him, I must be telling the stories of his love and his mercy.

We have attempted to creatively and passionately tell you the stories of how God is moving in Burundi and in our own hearts. Thank you for the ways you’ve encouraged us and told us your own stories.  As you read the stories in the months ahead, we hope that they awaken in you a desire to pray, to share, and to tell your own story to a world that is longing to hear.