As a pastor’s wife, I often defer to my husband to be the one with the voice when it comes to spiritual matters. After all, he is the one with the seminary degree, knowledge of the scriptures, the one asked to speak behind pulpits, in front of small groups, address large crowds.
And when we joined the Anglican world twelve years ago, I decided that my voice would remain at a whisper due to the crowded rooms of intellectual veracity. I assumed that the pursuits of those who spent years in institutions of learning far exceeded my abilities to impart anything substantial in the dialogue among learned leaders.
So, I tuned out. Until recently.
Because Jesus didn’t just preach in the book of Mark and teach in the book of Matthew, he also told stories, used informal conversations to disciple in the book of Luke. Jesus spoke in parables.
Did you know that the word parable means something thrown alongside? Something unspiritual to help us see truth spattered throughout the mundane of life.
Like the way a shoe thrown alongside the road makes me think about how it got there and why. How a smashed water bottle leads to thoughts of children walking alongside dusty roads in Rwanda, the discarded water bottle of a foreigner, a treasure in their hand.
Stories to help people think differently about life.
Jesus used yeast in bread dough as an analogy for the way the Kingdom of God permeates all of life (Luke 13:20), a narrow door to explain how entering heaven isn’t easy (Luke 13:23-30), finding a lost coin to illustrate joy when one sinner repents (Luke 15:8-10).
On his way to Jerusalem, between his ministry and the ultimate sacrifice he made for us, Jesus told those who never heard of him and those who didn’t want to know him, about the Kingdom of God through informal conversations.
During the week, in between Sundays, whom are you telling about the Kingdom of God through the stories of your life?
Now, instead of tuning out, making assumptions about what I have to contribute, I engage in conversations with the Chanel girls behind the counter at Dillards, the cashier at Food Lion, a friend over a bowl of salad, the UPS driver who comes to my door more often than he probably should, the clerk at the bookstore who helps me find amazing books and the men and women who wear collars and clergy shirts.
And none of those conversation begin with Thus Saith the Lord.
Because through the sanctity in the language that is our story, we acknowledge the truth of His grace, His mercy, and His redemption.
Inspiration for this post comes from a weekly bible study with beautiful women based on the book, Tell it Slant by Eugene Peterson.
Continuing the Joy Dare with Ann today to count thanks. If your joining this community to do the dare together, counting three a day to reach 1000 in 2012, leave your thanks in the comment box so we can celebrate thankfulness together; a unified smile across the miles.
- For tears of grief over losing my precious dog, because they wash away pain, reveal perspective.
- Nine years of joy with a faithful companion.
- Cuddled up under covers with my precious daughter to watch Downton Abbey to stop the tears, give swollen eyes peace and laugh joy.
- The hug of a friend who walks across the room when she sees me, knows my sorrow.
- For text messages, Facebook comments, and words on this blog that bring comfort.
- The revelation of storytelling as a call.
- A husband who caresses my back all the way home from the vet’s office while he can barely see through the tears to drive.
- For empathy, because it provides the basis for telling story and healing.
There is no more important encouragement. Thank you.
This was such an encouragement to me as a writer. Just wanted to stand up and clap during the teaching!
Your written words have spoken deeply to this heart in California. Please know that the Lord has given you a gift and you my dear friend do not need a pulpit to stand behind. Feeling your pain and reliving our own. Thankful for you!
Robin, thanks for being a loyal fan! I do know and the truth is sinking in. So sorry you have been sick. Hope you are feeling better. Thanks for your prayers as we grieve the loss of our sweet Winston too.
These days, these moments are all a part of the story. Some are sadder than others. Sorry about the loss of your dog. I feel your pain . . . . . lost ours a few years ago, but he still holds a place in our hearts : )
Yes, even the sad parts of life fill the pages of our story and provide opportunities for redemption. Those pets are a gift, a part of us forever.
Praying for you in your loss. I understand this. Very much.
And stories? So much power in the telling, this is true. Tell it Slant is such a wonderful book. I”m about halfway through it myself. Would love to have a community to discuss Peterson’s insights with. Love reading yours here, shelly. Much love to you, my friend.
Oh Laura. So inspired that you are reading it too. We literally just started the study but I would love to do something in community with you if you have any ideas. Thanks for your encouragement, prayers and extension of love over our loss. It makes the difference as we go through this.
I live in a very PC part of the world and we Vancouverites/Canadians are often referred to as “polite” Which includes, no talking religion…what works for you it your thing..that is until you tell someone you are a Christian. I have taken to telling folks that I am a believer in Jesus.
And I do not feel the external pressure to keep what I have inside, after all, it’s who I am.
Isn’t this the part of living like light in a dark world? I don’t need to shout it out, simply live the story.
My husbands mothers side of the family is from Ontario and we have churches all around Canada so I completely understand what you are saying here. I think our lives speak volumes about the nature and character of Christ without having to preach. Keep living and sharing Him through your countenance and words!
What a gift to be able to write of loss and joy in the same blog. Only the love of Jesus can do that in and through us. So love hearing your story. Causes me to reflect on my story and ask God to let me be free to share it. Love you Shelly and your writing is such a blessings. Keep on blessing us my friend.
The enemy would love nothing more than for me to be covered up in sorrow extended and miss out on joy. Or be too afraid to tell my story because it might change someones life. I want to follow Jesus more than I want to be stuck. Anne you are such a blessing and encourager. Thank you!
My husband attended seminary, and I used to feel the way you felt in the first part of this post. However, I agree, meaningful conversations happen in the everyday with ordinary people about ordinary things, and you know what? They are just as powerful.
Amy, always a pleasure to talk with you. I didn’t know your husband was also a seminarian. I guess we grow into who we are don’t we? So glad to know someone else can relate to that!
Wow. Something thrown alongside-unplanned, casual, accidental even. So like the birds ,wind, water, and seeds. Your insights help me again today. You say so well what I am often thinking and feeling; your words like light in a hidden place. I love lighting-uplight, shelf light, under-the-counter light (one of my favorites) but soul light that’s good.
I’m so sorry about Winston. Our whole family is. He was such a joy and we loved him. I’m praying for you all.
I miss you.
LuAnn, always love what you say in the comments, the way you see things makes me see differently too. We’re just a good pair of friends aren’t we? Miss you too. Its time for a girls weekend!
Your words say so much and so beautifully written. I am glad I stopped by for the first time.
Thank you Sharon, so glad you stopped by too!
And it’s all so much more meaningful if it grows out of the ordinary, too! When those moments pop up, they’re just beautiful in their unexpectedness.
I agree Kathleen. Sometimes it isn’t the wisdom or knowledge, just experience and the way God creates us that speaks to someone.
so sorry for your family’s loss. I know this pain, and wish you peace as you all move through it. Downton Abbey is a great start 🙂 I love this perspective on parables and on each of us speaking our stories in our own way. Just beautiful.
Thanks Tara. I was thinking about you today and realized I hadn’t heard from you in awhile. So glad to find out you were on an exotic adventure with your husband. Yes, I am really enjoying Downton Abbey, its so addictive. And I love the way you tell your story!
This is just beautiful Shelly! Thank you!
So happy you joined our little community here. Thanks so much.
Wonderful message Shelley. You tell stories in picture form and word painting, and so beautifully!
I live to tell my stories. Because I heard that “without the story there is no glory.” Have you heard this saying?
Debra, I haven’t heard that saying but it sounds true. And you say the nicest things to me, I am touched. Any sage advice you have for improvement is welcome always.
This is such an encouraging post for those of us who struggle with feeling like we have anything worthwhile to say. God uses ANYthing when we’re willing to share.
Katie, we all have significance in the Kingdom of God. He uses us all, because He made us. So glad to know you are encouraged today. It makes me smile!
Shelly, your writing is so beautiful and always touches me as though I have read a devotion with deep meaning. Two things…I lost my cat of 16 years just 2 weeks ago so I feel your pain and know how a good cry can begin the healing. Also, I never knew until I shared my childhood story of adoption and then restoration, how God would use my story from Pawleys Is to Guatemala. Never discount the power of your story for God has written it. Miss you!
Ginger, what a blessing you are and I know your story touches lives. I would love to hear the whole thing one day. And yes, a good cry does wonders to heal the soul – and make the eyes sore too! Miss seeing you too. I saw your daughter at church on Sunday. She is lovely.
Thanks for writing this. It is beautiful on many levels. I started a series on parables myself, but hadn’t heard this definition from the roots of the word. Great post!
Micheal, you might check out Eugene Peterson’s book for more insight. So glad to meet you here and thanks for your encouragement.
You wrote this post just for me, didn’t you. Thank you for your words. I, too, have struggled with this and am just starting my journey of contributing. For Him. To God be the glory.
Thank you for your encouragement!
So very thankful God used this post to speak to you. Just love it when that happens. Keep sharing yourself with the world, you speak well. And keep doing the dishes!
This is beautiful, a wonderful reminder that our perspective makes such a difference. I think of the woman who wanted to touch just the hem…or the woman who said the crumbs were enough. The beauty of the ordinary. I am logging the 1,000 gifts, a journey of vision and hope and perspective.
We lost our dog the week between Christmas and New Year’s, a 12 1/2 year old Great Pyrennees. I know how you feel, how easily the tears come, now, even weeks later. They are such a big part of our families, our memories. You wrote a great post about him – all I could manage was the dates and a photo, she was a good girl.
Maureen, love how these stories in the bible came to your mind and so sorry to hear about your dog too. The tears will be here for awhile I think, such loss. I realize that this kind of grief is common to so many. Thanks for sharing your heart here, I so appreciate it.
Oh Shelly, I’m so sorry about your sweet dog. Just look at how many people you blessed here because you allowed GOD to use you in your pain.
I’m thankful for that Connie, there is redemption around every corner.
This goes along perfectly with my post from last night–What Qualifications do you need? God doesn’t call us all to go to seminary and full time ministry: but he calls us all to share our faith.
Can’t wait to read it Shanda and I got the beautiful purse you sent in the mail today. Thank you so much. It will remind me of you to be sure.
This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I don’t know if my life is making a difference. But it helps to remember that just a conversation can make a difference.
Diane, your life does make a difference. That I know. And we all wonder at times but He created us with purpose and you fill a special one.
This is beautiful… thanks for the reminder that is so easy to forget!
Glad you were reminded to be yourself, tell your story!!
Shelly, you ARE my daily devotion. Hadn’t really thought of tears “washing” away the pain; but cathartic as they are, I guess it does ring true. Love you.
Paula, I just threw those flowers from Jim away this morning. They lasted well. We both got to enjoy them!
I’ve just come your way via Deidra’s page, and immediately signed up for emails! I so need more reminders of God’s grace.
Thank you today for reminding me that images are just as important as words. And that joy and sorrow often come together.
Deborah, so excited to have you join the community here! And so glad that God spoke to you through word and image today. What a blessing.
Oops, just realized its DeborahJoy. Sorry for the error on your name, just hate it when that happens!
I just left a comment at someone else’s place about how when I see a shoe, or article of clothing, or even a child’s toy left abandoned along the road, I want to know its story. (If you don’t read Lyla Lindquist, check her out at A Different Story)
So much to like here! Yes, storytelling is a call. And, I know that struggle of feeling less-than in a roomful of folks with degrees. My mother-in-law has a high school diploma and has been married for over fifty years to a man with a PhD. Yet she runs rings around most people with advanced degrees in incarnating the love of Christ.
I have seen my husband shed tears exactly twice. Once was when he had to put down our beloved Labrador Retriever.
Thanks so much for stopping over at my place today. Blessings.
Nancy, I love Lyla and her great sense of humor. I, too, am constantly making up stories about random things. Its the gift in us wanting to come out! And my, your comment about your husband and the dog, that speaks volumes. So nice to visit with you Nancy. Enjoy your stories.
I had the same thought as Nancy… Check out Lyla’s post today.
Oooh, I need to read her post. Going over now!
Your words are a gift. You add variety and beauty to the conversation. So glad you’re telling your story. It makes a difference.
Jennifer, I can’t tell you how much you encourage me. You are truly a gift from God to me.
Yes! As an English teacher, I cannot help but encourage everyone to write. Most of all, I will always encourage everyone to write their story! God has a purpose and a message for every life He redeems. Together, our stories create the choir that sings the song of the redeemed.
Oh, how I love those English teachers. My daughter has one now that is encouraging her and it makes my heart happy. Denise, I can imagine being in your classroom would be such a treat! And I just love that imagery of our stories creating a choir. Beautiful.
Billy Graham said, “If you want to change someone’s life, tell a story” – Your post is one of my very favorite themes, the willingness to connect with others, and with that connection to tell a story. No connection is ever a surprise to God – God has a plan for those connections! SO LOVE THIS POST!
Love that quote by Billy Graham and it is so true. Most of the bible is just that – stories we learn from. How to live and not live by the examples of others told in stories. So thankful you stopped by and encouraged me today! Thank you.
Shelly… oh, my. Just getting in tonight from a long day on the road. Thank you for your comment over at my place — and letting me know I needed to see this today. I’m not often left speechless. But perhaps you have me here. 😉
There are stories attached to so many, many things…
Wow, you at a loss for words. Maybe you were just tired from a long day. But really, your comments always bring me joy and so glad you took that time to converse with me after a long day. Blessings to you!
Peeking in after reading Lyla’s blog. Love this….keep telling the stories that people need to hear. 🙂
So sorry to hear of your beloved pet. Hubby and I have a yellow and a black lab and they are our “children” as we have none of the two legged variety. They sure do have a way of cuddling up in your heart and leaving a mark for life. Take comfort in knowing that dog was loved much and had a great home. Hmmm…sounds like how we should live our lives here on earth until we are called home.
Looking forward to listening to more of your stories! 🙂
Julie, lovely to meet you and don’t you just love that Lyla? Those pets take up heart space that is for sure. Will look forward to more conversation with you in the future.
You are absolutely right!!! I think that it is in our stories that hearts are actually changed way more than “thus saith the Lord.” Because he dwells in our hearts so when we share it is Him that is sharing. Thank you for this beautiful post.
Yes and Amen! Love your joy.