When Paul is brought before Agrippa and given the opportunity to plead his case, he presents the gospel by telling his own story, including the electrifying account of his conversion. Most of us do not have stories as dramatic as Paul’s, but anyone who has met Jesus has a story to tell. Our stories—not only the stories of our conversions, but the stories of our faith journeys and stewardship experiences—can be a source of insight and inspiration to others. Author Eugene Peterson writes about the importance of story.
Existence has a story shape. The most adequate rendering of the world in words is by storytelling. It is the least specialized and most comprehensive form of the language. Everything and anything can be put into the story. And the moment it is in the story it has meaning, participates in plot, is somehow or other significant. The biblical revelation comes to us in the form of story. Nothing less than story is adequate to the largeness and intricacy of the truth of God and creation, or of the human fall and redemption.
It is through storytelling in general that values are transmitted and morals are imparted. Author Philip Kenneson explains:
Most cultures of the past have devoted considerable time and energy to the task of moral formation. In most of those cultures this moral formation was facilitated largely by identifying exemplars to be imitated and through the telling of stories. Both practices mutually reinforced each other, because stories of virtuous people made it possible to recognize them in your midst, while flesh and blood exemplars served to remind us that the most powerful stories are embodied ones.
It is also important to tell and keep our stories alive for the generations that come after us. Stories about how God has provided for us—about how giving and receiving have caused us growth in faith and in community—are important so that we remember. Author Daniel Taylor recounts how in Joshua 4:1–7 God tells his people how to remember. Read the passage and consider the following:
The [author] here is trying to convince his audience that when they remember who they are, where they have come from, and who their God is, they prosper. When they quit telling the stories, they no longer know who they are and disaster ensues. That is why God tells Joshua to have each of the tribes of Israel contribute a rock to commemorate God’s provision in leading them across the Jordan River. The rock monument in their midst will cause the children of the next generation to ask, “Why are those rocks there?” That question will prompt the story, and a new generation will understand the power of God. We, too, must build rock monuments, primarily in story form, to the values our experience has taught us are most crucial.
Think About It
What was the outcome of Paul’s storytelling?
How do stories act upon both the teller and the hearer?
What stories do you have to share that will encourage someone, enlighten someone or draw someone closer to God?
Act on It
When you answered the questions above, did you feel prompted to share a story with another person or group? Determine who might benefit from your story, then make it a priority to share with others this week.