True to His glorious nature, God gives each of us a life filled with stories. The path He places before us has been specifically designed to lead us to our ultimate destination, heaven. God tells us so little about heaven, yet, heaven is where we long to be. Those who do not know of or believe in heaven still crave for an eternity where there are no more tears, where there is no more fear, an eternity where there is no more pain, shame or sorrow. We, all, long for an eternity where we can bask in the light of love and of loveliness. We, all, long for heaven.
Our paths are similar, yet, different. They are similar in that our paths are filled with stories of great pain and of stories of great joy. Our paths are different in that each path was designed just for us. Each story God places along our paths, is designed to fill us with our greatest desire to be in His presence--even if we do not recognize it is He we long for.
I was taught to share my 'testimony' with others in hopes they would want what I had been given. This has always been very daunting to me. Questions/doubts of my "getting it right" often stop me from sharing. In all honesty, I can not walk through the Roman Road with someone, I can not quote verse and address, I can not operate the evangelist cube. Does my lack of these 'tools' nullify my testimony? Should I back away from sharing so I do not become a stumbling block to others?
Lately, the Holy Spirit has been showing me I have all the tools I need to share Him with others. I have my stories God has given me as He and I walk this path He has us on. My stories of His love and care for me are what entice others to know Him. It is through sharing my stories, others can see and feel my desire to spend eternity with my heavenly Father, my Abba. The Holy Spirit is showing me, it is in my stories that His truths and His words come alive. I do not need to cite the bible addresses to show God is love. To comfort others with His truth that He is close to the broken hearted, that His love endures forever. I can tell others Jesus died and rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father, that He intercedes for us, He rejoices over each of His children. These truths are not merely recorded in the bible, but they are embedded in our stories. His truths in the midst of our stories is where the Holy Spirit speaks to them. He is showing me He can use ALL my stories--not just the rehearsed, memorized one. I can share how He was with me in those times of great joy as well as those times of great pain. His truth does not change according to the story I share. No. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. His truth is eternal!
I'd like to share one of my stories. A story the Holy Spirit keeps close to my heart and my thoughts. A story He recently showed me is one God gave me that perfectly illustrates the power I've been given to freely share Him with others. No fear, no doubt, no questions--just His enticing love calling out to others through my story.
June 27, 2011, I drove up to the church to see the students off to camp. My daughter, Diana, was very excited to be serving as a camp counselor this particular year because this was the first year she would be a counselor as a wife. She and her new husband, Jake, had served as counselors for several years, but this was their first year serving as husband and wife. I wanted to see them happily get on the bus together :) Once I returned home, I got started with some housework and watched my youngest daughter head into town to meet a few friends. I had the house to myself as I cleaned and was enjoying the quiet as I swept the back porch. My quiet was interrupted by God. He kept telling me to 'pray for Jake." After a few promptings, I jokingly said to Him, "ok, but I have a daughter at camp, too." He again told me to pray for Jake. I thought perhaps he was going to have a difficult situation arise within the group of young men he'd be in charge of, so I prayed for Jake, "Lord. I do not know what Jake needs, but You do. Please be with him." Not long after, the phone rang. It was a dear friend of mine who was also serving at the camp. She told me Jake had had an accident and it was very bad. She is a PA so her words hit me like a ton of bricks! She knew what she was seeing...she told me I needed to get to camp, to Diana.
There were so many logistics to work out and I couldn't think of how to accomplish one of them. God went to work on my behalf. It's unclear to me how I got through the phone calls I made, but within 30 minutes, my youngest daughter was home and my sister and brother in law were driving us to the hospital where they had airlifted Jake. We learned on the 2+ hour drive to the hospital that our precious Jake had died, he had drowned while swimming in the springs at camp. I couldn't reach Kevin, he was out west working on a churchbuild in a fairly remote area. Again, God handled that part of my story for me. Kevin was home in our driveway when we arrived the next day. God saw to it that Diana had her daddy's arms to fall into as she got out of the car. I had friends fill my porch with cards filled with scripture and their love, we had so many taking care of Diana and us, I do not even know who all to thank. In the midst of our deepest tragedy, God was close to us, He was carrying us through the details, He was pouring His truths into our hearts and thoughts. He never left us, He never forsaken us.
There are many stories God gave to Jake's family and friends leading up to his death. I will not go into all of them here, but each story is filled with God's boundless love for us as He gave each of us a glimpse of Himself as He walked with us along this most difficult path. His truths are real. His love is beautiful. He is enough. This is what our stories say as we share how He holds our hand along the path He lays out before us. It is through our stories that He is glorified. Others don't need our testimonies, they need their own. They need to see where we found Jesus so they can know where to look for Him in their own stories.
I pray these words encourage us,all, to share His love with those we meet, with those we do life with, with those who are lost, who are hurting, who are rejoicing. He is in each and every story of our lives.
His grace is enough.
by Beverly Rivera