Don’t you love to hear other people’s stories? It’s fascinating to learn about their childhood, family, the twists and turns that have brought them to where they are, what makes them laugh, what they hold dear. Many nights, right before going to sleep, I get to hear about Craig’s early years simply by asking, “Tell me about…..” and then filling in the blank with questions about the toys he played with, his favorite candy bar, what made him mad, if he thought monsters lived in the closet, and where did he take that cute girl on his first date. Even though we’re both minister’s kids, we grew up under vastly different circumstances and since we didn’t meet until we’d both finished graduate school and established careers, there’s just a lot of life that we didn’t live together. Knowing what came before “us” connects dots and fills out a clearer picture of what went into making him who he is (which has suited me just fine going on 18 years now) and gives me a better way of understanding and relating to him.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to hear Tom’s story. He’s not really a stranger because he is, after all, in my Sunday School class, but it’s a large room and he sits in the front row and we’re back row people so we don’t always have a chance to visit. But he stood to speak for a few minutes and his words so touched me that I wanted to unpack them a little bit here because they show redemption at its most glorious. His recounting of coming from a broken home, experiencing tragic loss, failed marriages, and carrying an agnostic view of God for the majority of his life was such a radical departure from what I’d expected to hear from this kind, peaceful, joyful man whom I’ve known for several months. And he talked about how these circumstances could have defined him and very well could have been the end of the story.
And that’s where he (and the rest of us) broke down.
Jane, whose life radiated with love and who chose to show him (not tell him, mind you, SHOW HIM) how a life lived in relationship with the Creator was so radically different and beautiful than anything he’d seen before. Jane, who got to know him, wasn’t afraid of his past, related to him, was ever-so-patient with him. Jane, who by example led him to a place where, for himself, he wanted to answer the questions about if there was a God and, if so, what that meant for his life. Jane, whom he’d had the subsequent privilege to love, marry, and live alongside, worshiping the Lord together.
To see him so moved by the love of a woman and the overwhelming grace of a merciful God to step into his life and radically and irrevocably change it has stayed with me well into the week. I’ve been challenged to reevaluate how to relate to others who don’t know the Lord and to think about the power of entering into life with them. To listen, to hear, to know, to shape the narrative of events.
That’s what love does.
That’s what God does.
With Him, there’s always a Part II to the book of our lives to redeem Part I and we are so blessed to help write that new chapter for others by asking, listening, and living life with them.
Just four little words.
“Tell me your story.”
Have a nice day.