The Power of Your Story
"Your ministry begins with your story."
My wife often reiterates this truth in conversations we have with others about how we follow Christ. In life it can be all too easy to look at everything that is wrong with the world and be intimidated to the point of paralysis, right? We are left asking how can we make a difference and how can we share the Good News of Jesus Christ in such a hostile and volatile environment.
It starts with your story.
Real life transformation is only achieved in relationships and deep relationships are only formed through authenticity and openness. We have to open up ourselves in order for others to open up as well.
And very often this starts with our story (in Christian circles we also call this our testimony). It is an account of the major mile-markers in our lives, in addition to how God has and is at work in our lives. For Christ-followers, our stories are centered on the life events that led our lives to intersecting with Jesus.
And when we open up and share about ourselves with others - barriers are broken down, statistics become real people, and presuppositions are eroded away.
In the Bible we find one down-right crazy story of a man who's life had a dramatic intersection with Jesus. We find this story in Luke 8: 27-39 (as well as in the book of Mark) about Jesus healing a demon-possessed man.
Jesus takes His disciples across a lake and lands their boat on a shore right next to a cemetery and initiates a conversation with a naked, demon-possessed man.
Already this is a Jewish boys' nightmare: dead things, nudity, and demons. Some scholars even tell us that the disciples may have never even gotten out of the boat for this entire story. This is the epitome of a scary movie for the disciples.
Here's some good news for all of who follow Jesus Christ: We serve a God who literally got down on our level by becoming human. And even during His time here on earth, He met people where they were at.
And Jesus casts the demons (a whole legion of them!) out of this man. As He does, He sends the legion of demons into a herd of pigs (the worst animal ever for Jews - so this horror story just got even worse for the disciples) on a nearby hill - and they subsequently run off the hillside into the lake....and drown.
Now the story ends with the local townspeople asking Jesus to leave out of fear of His power (and probably a bit of frustration at the loss of future bacon production), but there are two things that I find captivating in this story:
- This man will always be able to share this amazing story about how God moved in his life. Any time moving forward that this man shares his story, he can say: "You know how I know that Jesus saved and freed me? Because I saw with my own two eyes Jesus tear the demons out of me and the 'legion' that had tortured me drove THOUSANDS of pigs into the depths of that lake right over there. And just like those pigs sank to the bottom of that lake, Jesus threw all of my pain and brokenness into that sea too! Why am I not crazy and naked and sleeping amongst corpses anymore? It's because of Jesus. Jesus threw my past into that sea! And I have never been the same." Now that is an awesome story to have. For all of us - when our lives intersect with Jesus, we are left forever changed.
And I also love how the story ends. In verse 39 we are told that Jesus told this now demon-less man, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." Rather than invite this man to come and follow Him (like He did with plenty of other potential disciples), He told the man to go home and tell his story to others. Jesus worked this tremendous miracle in this man's life and the man requests to now follow Jesus on His journeys. But Jesus sends him back to his home community - and tell's him to share his story.
For all of us who claim as Christians to be followers of Christ, we have a moment (or series of moments) where Jesus intersects into our lives, changes everything, and leaves us much different than who we started as.
Simply put, we all have a story.
And, secondly, we all are called - like the man in Luke 8 - to share our story.
Our ministry begins with our story and we are called to share how Jesus has changed (and is still changing) our lives for the better.
In Christianity, our salvation (deciding to follow Jesus Christ as one's Lord and Savior) is not only about us as individuals. Our salvation is all about others. We are called to share our stories with others.
So what is your story? How has God changed your life? What is your Jesus moment?
Who should you be sharing your story with?
I firmly believe that each of us has people in and around our lives whom God is calling us to share our stories with. There are people in each of our lives that only our story will make an impact in.
There are people who need to hear your story. Soon. So get started.
In the words of Jesus: "Return home and tell how much God has done for you."