Where I see God.
Journal Entry #1: In People’s Faith Stories
“… a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:7
Before Christmas, my son’s fiancé invited me to hear her mom share their family’s story at a women’s group one evening. I wanted to support, but honestly, I was really tired and selfishly wanted to stay home. However, something inside said, “GO!” That “GO!” wouldn’t quit. So I went. Thank goodness.
Awkwardly, I entered the room unsure of where to sit, consciously aware of my own insecure social etiquette skills. Thankfully, my son’s fiancé was keeping an eye out for me and offered me a place to sit next to her and another friend I had met previously.
The evening started with a game Christmas Carol Bingo (which I stunk at) and then the main speaker (friend and fiancé’s mother) shared her story. I had heard most of the story before, a few years ago when we first met the family after my son had started dating their daughter. But I learned so much more this time. It wasn’t just the content and the focus on God answering prayers but instead in watching the other women in the room respond as the story was shared. When my friend shared a joke about something her husband had done, there were little giggles from the audience relating. As she shared, people were drawn into her story. When there was heartbreak, there were shared tears. Finally, when the concluding words were spoken at the end of the evening each woman in the room was invested in the speaker, her family, and the God she worshipped.
God uses our stories in life, faith, pain, overcoming obstacles to grow not only our faith but also the faith of those around us. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be part of the group that evening. God blessed me with an affirmation in several ways through my friend’s story.
First, listening allowed me to be part of her story by showing me the work God had done in her life through a variety of circumstances. Seeing her vulnerability, made her real as she openly shared her mistakes and even a few misbeliefs that God corrected along the way. As she shared her heart hurts, my heart hurt. Not because I had experienced the exact same pain, but because I had experienced pain I longed for God to heal. Then listening to the moments of victory built my faith that God has victory for me, too. Her humility helped me sympathize and come to humility myself thus experiencing what every woman in the room experienced. God’s love. Through hard times and easy, God’s love is working in us.
Second, I had shared my story with a small group of mom’s a couple of months prior. It took a lot of courage to follow through with the commitment and I left feeling grateful for the opportunity, but I wasn’t sure of my impact. Watching someone else share and observing the audience not only gave me a broader perspective, it also reassured me that God was using my story as well.
Third, I noticed when my friend was sharing that our stories give examples of God at work over a period of time, in a short amount of time. My friend covered a period of twenty years, in an hour’s time. When we live life we pray and make decisions based on moments; often the results come though over a period of time. When other’s share the time that it took to see God’s answers, we are given the truth about how God works. He isn’t always instantaneous. The living through the trial often provides greater lessons.
That night a week or so before Christmas, I saw God at work. I saw Him on my friend’s face as she shared. I experienced Him with others in the reactions of the audience. I heard Him in the prayer spoken at the end of the event. And, I was truly touched by Him in the words that fell on my heart.
Have you ever experienced God at work in someone else’s story?