The stories we tell about ourselves and others matter. The stories we tell about our God matter. Stories are how we build relationships and cultivate faith. Throughout the Old Testament, we see the people of God being instructed to remember how God has engaged them. Sometimes they are called to remember by creating festivals and holidays where they reenact the story (like Passover). Other times they are told to leave a pile of stones, build an altar, or name a significant place in a way that reminds them of what God has done and subsequently of who their God is.
It would be easy to write this off as an inconsequential practice. Yet memory and storytelling are essential to faith formation. For example, when David volunteers to face Goliath, he is questioned by King Saul. David tells the story of how God has been with him in the past. God was with him when he faced the lion and the bear. This gives him confidence that God will be with him in facing Goliath. It is in telling the story of God’s faithfulness in the past, that David is able to trust in God’s faithfulness in this moment (when all anyone else can focus on is the giant obstacle they are facing).
God often uses this tactic to build the faith of whomever is being sent. When God claims, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” it’s not just an identifier. God is invoking the stories of the forefathers as witnesses to God’s character. Remembering who God has revealed God’s self to be in the context of our lives or the life of our community helps us to live faithfully in the present.
If you feel like your faith is needing a boost, I invite you to reflect on the stories that matter. What family stories reveal God’s faithfulness? What family stories of encountering God have shaped you? When have you encountered God? How has God been faithful to you? In what ways have you witnessed God at work?
As you begin to cultivate these stories, think about who you can share them with. Could they become a blessing or inheritance of faith for your children, grandchildren, or congregation? Your stories matter.
God grant us stories of encountering you and the opportunity to tell of your faithfulness to us. Amen.
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My hope is that many will think seriously about your challenging questions, & then take to heart the call to sharing them. Thank you, Sarah.