What makes some of us anxious, even excited to share our days before coming to Christ while others keep their stories hidden? My grandmother, “Bama”, the daughter of a Methodist minister would start up conversations wherever she found opportunity.
A petite woman, dressed in crisp blouses and slacks, she found joy in engaging with others. She always found a way to listen and make others believe she completely understood.
She was merciful. She gave mercy. Had received mercy.
She was an interested listener, so people shared. She didn’t have to be in church to talk about Jesus, about her faith and sometimes about us, struggles she was praying about or had made it through.
The favor she’d been shown, inherited, carried her through to a place of unashamed sharing her story of redemption and drawing out the stories of those she met.
Some said she shared too much information; was nosy and annoying but, she kept right on connecting in the beauty shop, the dime store or the fellowship hall. She was telling and listening to testimonies, stories of Jesus.
One morning last week, praying before the workday, I thanked God for my salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. And then, thoughts becoming prayers, I prayed “God, thank you for saving me long before I asked.”
Isn’t this the prayer of every person who has finally come to Jesus?
The story of every person who like Zacchaeus, wanting to know Jesus; but, believing too much wrongdoing and greed made him unworthy. Or maybe like the Samaritan woman, shamed by wrong choices, yet welcomed by Jesus in the presence of those who scorned her. Or the leper, discarded and avoided, yet embraced by the love of Jesus. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have testimony Sunday and hear Zacchaeus telling, excitedly about Jesus wanting to dine with him, wanting to save him! Imagine the Samaritan woman standing behind the pulpit in your church, and tearfully describing the welcoming salvation of Jesus despite her sins. I can hear her telling of the love she felt when Jesus defended her against the comments of onlookers who labeled her unclean and even reported to Jesus her record of sin. What a touching and beautiful time it would be to see the horribly disfigured and cast aside leper standing in your sanctuary, healthy and radiantly smiling describing the healing hand of God, through Jesus!
Every one of them could proclaim, the Psalmist’s words
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer and did not withdraw His unfailing love from me! Psalm 66:20
Jesus was saving them before he even encountered them, for His best, waiting to offer redemption in simple, yet intentional encounters.
I learned about the struggles of two friends in our church recently. Both shared, through tears, and shaky voices glimpses into their lives before they were walking with God. Both caught me by surprise. Powerful testimonies and disclosures of damaging choices and paths wrongly taken, spoken as examples of grace. It would make sense to wonder, “Why are they sharing so much?” or “How can they admit their mistakes in front of a church full of people who really did not need to know?”
Because, they know what it means to Tell the Story of Jesus, the story of His truth, “Truth Telling”, I like to call it.
I sometimes think I have a bit of my grandma in me. I am drawn to the stories of others. I love to share stories of His place in my heart, my life.
And just like the redeemed in the pews or in the parking lot or waiting in line at the checkout, I’m comparing notes, comparing encounters with Jesus who saved me.
Answered my prayer, seeking mercy.
I’m remembering a time of failure and devastation when the preacher from the tiny little white church stopped by to visit…he’d heard my story…everyone had.
And when I asked, “How can I get through this?”
His kind and gentle voice answered firmly,
“Just pray for mercy.”
I did. I still do.
And now, like my grandma. I love to listen and tell.
Stories of Jesus and His mercy.
What’s your story of Jesus, your redemption story, your truth?
Your “Lord, have mercy” story ?
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. Psalm 66:16