All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. Matt. 13:34 (MSG)
A few years ago my brother and I were having a conversation and he told me about a crisis time in his life. He was struggling with a sense of identity and so he went on a retreat in the mountains. After fasting and praying, he felt as if God in all but an audible voice: “You are my artist.” I was impressed by that. I wanted that kind of term of endearment from God.
I didn’t go to a mountain cabin and fast, but I prayed and prayed. I wanted to hear from God a word that was so intimate and so unique. I got nothing. That hurt. I felt as if I didn’t measure up and that somehow I was inadequate; maybe even damaged goods. I became obsessed with who I was. I began to define myself by what I did. I was a minister. I was a business consultant. I was a father. I was a husband. I was a survey equipment salesman. All of that, while nice and wholesome, never scratched that deeper itch.
Then one evening we were entertaining friends and, after a wonderful meal, we began to swap stories. We laughed a lot and cried a little.
Suddenly my wife started to tell a story and then turned to me and said, “You tell it. You are the storyteller.” Later that night I asked God if that was who I was. Was I his storyteller? I got a deep sensation that seemed to say, “No.” My heart sank. Then he said, “You are the story. From time-to-time tell about the journey.”
God is writing a story out of my life and I get to tell you about it. How amazing is that? Sometimes it is a tragedy and sometimes it is a comedy. But ultimately it is His story and I get to be in it. As someone once said, “When God enters your story; your story is no longer your story, it is God’s story and he can call for the telling of that story anytime he chooses.”
I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
I was put here to live a story. That is my vocation. Telling the story is my avocation.
Not long ago I was listening to a lecture about identity. As the presenter spoke I found my mind leaving the room and imagining going for a walk in the New Heaven and the New Earth—with Jesus.
We were in dark timber; the squirrels were chattering at our approach. There was a musty smell of forest floor leaves in the air. Dappled light was scattered on the trail in front of us as the sun seemed to try to peek through the evergreen bows to watch us walk, Jesus and me.
We walked for about a mile, talking about the beauty and wonder of this sacred place God had made when Jesus stopped and sat down on a gray log.
He looked up at me, smiled, and said, “Tell me a story, Joe.”
I gulped and stammered, “What story do you want to hear?”
“You choose,” He said.