Redeem Your Story
Redeem Your Story
Here are some helpful thoughts and a resource for Getting you story straight, your life back, and living out the story of God on the Path of Jesus.
Foundational thoughts on Story.
• Stories are found throughout history.
• God is writing stories with you each step of your life. He knew you before you were born. (Jeremiah 1:5) He created you wonderfully. (Psalm 139:14) He has wonderful plans for your life. (Jeremiah 29:11) He has good works for you to accomplish. (Ephesians 2:10) He is with you every step of your journey. (Matthew 28:20)
• Your story is unique and special because you were created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) That means you reflect God uniquely and that you were hardwired with a purpose.
• Your personal story has shaped your life and your relationships: How you experience love. How you relate to others. Bottom line, stories enable us to relate well with others.
• We are called to enter into the stories of others. We can help others learn from their own stories. We can teach others about the great story of God. Entering the stories of others is our vital mission. (Matthew 28:18-20) When you enter the stories of others, you are on sacred ground. Walk carefully and listen well. It is important to not judge but reflect their story back to them so they know you are truly listening.
• Good Stories come from a revelation and knowledge of who God is, and in relationship with Him.
My story is important not because it is mine, but because God knows it, He is the Author of it, and if I can tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also your story… It is precisely through these stories in all their particularity that God makes Himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally. If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually.
Meet the Author, Get a Life, Get a Story
God often orchestrates our lives so that we will intersect with people in ways that allow us to interact with their stories. These are what I believe are supernatural appointments that happen in the most natural ways. They are opportunities to become Living Stones and have the potential to encourage, correct, what motivates us. For instance; When I finaly submitted to the Author and Finisher of my faith, my story was no longer motivated by spiritual pride and prowess. I ceased seeing myself as the fixer of everyone else and allowed Him to finally fix me.
My story is important not because it is mine, better, right, wrong, or more interesting. It is important because if I am willing to understand it, live it, and tell it. the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours … It is precisely through these stories in all their particularity that God makes Himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally. If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually.
To get us on the way to really knowing who God is and to understand the difference between the Narrative of this world vs the Narrative of God Let’s take a look at what Narrative really is.
In todays culture A narrative is thought of as a paradox, because it seeks to convey truth by hiding it. A storyteller arranges the items of knowledge in such a way that they are revealed gradually, which implies initially obscuring the truth behind what is told. Authors are deliberate in making things unclear because it creates a sense of mystery or tension, with the purpose of creating a desire in the listener to find out what is happening in the story and why. In this sense, a narrative is effectively the opposite of an account or a report. This can be problematic in terms of our relationships because narratives can also be subject to misinterpretation by the hearer of a story and can produce negative and reactionary responses if not properly discerned with through the lens of the Holy Spirit.
Not so, with the Narrative of God, The Great Mystery was revealed in Christ. The Author of our story sent the Truth into the world so that we might know His story and see it played out in our personal journey without ever wondering how things were going to turn out. That is the beauty of knowing the truth and indeed being set free to live a victorious life, epic story in absolute truth.
The Lord has provided ample opportunities for each of us to be a part of developing a caring community where the work of the Word, Spirit, and Discipleship happens. To experience momentum toward either of these goals, we must look back at the story God is writing in our own life and become familiar with the story He is writing in the others that He has placed in our lives. Sharing our stories will build our faith, bring honor to God, and accelerate the development of relational trust in our relationships in the Body of Christ and with our families.
God is the master storyteller – His self revelation is captured in a sweeping narrative and then given to us in a Book that grips our heart, a Map that guides our paths, and a Story that captures our soul. He creates a story within each person’s life, a story we are meant to tell. And since we are called to tell our story, we are also called to listen to the stories of others. God is calling us to fully explore, to fully enjoy, and to fully capture the power of the Great Story, the Gospel. And we are to invite others to immerse themselves in that Great Story. One way we do this is by listening to the stories that we have put in the closet, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us and correct us, and then by sharing God’s ultimate plans for us with others.” Why is this important?
God acts in history and in your and my brief histories not as a puppeteer who sets the scene and pulls our strings but rather as the great director who no matter what role fate casts us in conveys to us in supernaturally natural ways that if we have our eyes, ears, hearts open and sometimes even if we don’t, how we can play those roles in a way to enrich and enable and make holy the whole vast drama of life including our own small but crucial parts in it.
Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.
Robert McKee~ “Your story has power in your life, and it has power and meaning to bring to others. I want your story to stir me, draw me to tears, compel me to ask hard questions. I want to enter your heartache and join you in the hope of redemption. But your story can’t do these things if you can’t tell it. You can’t tell your story until you know it. And you can’t truly know it without owning your part in writing it. And you won’t write a really glorious story until you’ve wrestled with the Author (God) who has already written long chapters of your life, some of them not to your liking.”
Dan Allender~ Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde~ “When I study and understand my life story, then I can join God as Coauthor. I don’t have to settle for merely being a reader of my life; God calls me to be a writer of my future. He asks me to take the only life I will ever be given and shape it in the direction he outlines for me. I am to keep writing, moving forward into the plot that God has woven into the sinews of my soul”.
So… What do I do with the tragic parts of my story?
Look into them asking for God’s perspective, and being alert to His shepherding. A tragic circumstance can define and anchor you – holding you back from your calling and destiny, OR it can pull back the curtain to reveal the power of God to bring beauty from ashes, and transformation through pain. We all have both spectrums in our personal stories so don’t ignore it but walk back into it, with God beside you and ask him to show you what he wants you to do, think, feel or address. As you share these parts of your story don’t be surprised by God’s presence and ministry to and through others. For instance, as I listen to someone else’s story what do I do or say? It is of most importance to first listen and allow your eyes to see from the storyteller’s perspective and that of the Creator / Author. Honor the person with your focused attention. Pray for the storyteller(s) after the meeting and write down what God puts on your heart. Ask the Lord if you are to share anything with them, and if so when and how. Your role is not to co-author another person’s story, but God may lead you to come alongside as a cheerleader, a challenger, an advocate, or a loving friend who shares the journey. How should I organize my story, and what should I include? Prayerfully ask for God’s help and direction, in order to discern what’s most important to share now, and how best to communicate it. Often our stories may take a seasonal flow for instance, we may highlight our journey and the people, and situations that have shaped us by seasons of life. OR you may prefer a more thematic approach. The following categories may be helpful in reflecting on and organizing how you will share.
Include how God has interacted in your story, and about your relationship with Him. • Where you are from / Family of Origin • Defining moments, • High points, successes, obstacles overcome • Low points, failures, lessons learned • What shaped your view of and relationship with God? • If you have trusted Christ... tell when, how, that took place, and what has changed in your life. • Where and how have you experienced God since that time? • Heroes or key people who have shaped your life.
As a co-author with God, only the 2 of you know your story and what is meant to be shared with those around you now. There is no way to fail if you are faithful to pray and prepare. How should I communicate my story? Just relax and share the highlights. There is no way to lose. You know your story better than any other person. It would be helpful to organize your thoughts on paper, possibly in outline or bullet form. It would also be helpful to have copies of your outline or bullets to share with the group so they can remember and follow along. It would also be helpful to include some prayer request themes, so that folks around you become acustomed to praying with and for you. Have fun. Listen to each other’s story with curiosity and with an alertness to see what God has already been doing, and how he may be calling you to come alongside with encouragement!
This way of sharing story is the best way to keep Christ at the center of all of our conversations and relationships. When Jesus and the His work on the Cross become the only focus in our stories It becomes very difficult for someone else to misunderstand, misinterpret, or change the narrative that our Author has written into our life and story.
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John is Pastor at The Redeemed Adventure Project and Author of various Adventure Journals, Fireside Challenges, and Blogs excerpts from books he written over the last 12 years.