by Greg Silverthorne
You don’t know my Story, all the things that I’ve been through; You can’t feel my Pain, what I had to go through to get here. You’ll never understand my Praise, don’t try to figure it out; because my Worship is for real.
The stories of your life are what define you as a unique person and child of God. The seed for this Our Stories, Our Praise, Our Worship series, as noted in the first post (link), was sown nearly seven months ago. I heard an anointed Gospel song, “My Worship is For Real”, being ‘tapped’ twice in the same week by two different Black Baptist churches. The potential power of a Christian’s story, and the song’s poignant opening verse, became plainly evident. My mind then quickly wandered to the hymn which, in part, inspired the name of this spiritual blog: “Blessed Assurance“. I knew I had to address the spiritual value and relevance of stories soon. The chorus for Blessed Assurance is:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
The words which led this post are from the aforementioned Gospel song. Sung by Bishop Larry Trotter’s Sweet Holy Spirit Combined Choir, “My Worship is For Real” (audio) was written by VaShawn Mitchell. It serves as the foundation for this entire series.
Have you ever heard a story and a ‘light bulb’ went on? Like a key piece in a large jigsaw puzzle, you gained insight into something that had previously alluded you. I have. When I read, last March, the testimony of a man, about a life-threatening experience he had as a 14-year old boy, I was deeply moved! Obviously, God had allowed him to recover from being hit by a car – as a teenager, while riding his bike. He was in a coma for 2 weeks! Having read and enjoyed many of the blog posts of that man in the prior months, I now had a vivid, real-life illustration of the amazing healing powers of God! I now sensed what made him ‘tick’ . . . and his God-exalting, online presence is, I firmly believe, part of a Master Plan that God had for him even then – in that hospital room.
The man I’m talking about is Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr. I thought to myself that day:
“God clearly had a purpose for this young boy which could only be fulfilled by saving him! If he didn’t, all the wonderful work of an awesome Pastor, blogger, and married father of two children would NEVER have seen the light of day! God couldn’t let Joe go! His Christian blogging is clearly ‘for real’.”
Guess what? Everyone has a story, a set of stories to be more exact, that I feel stand as the roots of their life. As Christians, the soil in which those distinct roots are planted includes, in part, our spiritual values. Be it You, me, Joe Quatrone, Jr., VaShawn Mitchell, or Frances J. Crosby (who wrote Blessed Assurance), all Christians have stories which are reflected in their worship, praise, thinking, and actions.
- What are the core stories of your life? The stories that men, women, and young children embody can be quite complex. Some are proudly shared with others. Some are closely-held and only uttered to a select few confidants. Moreover, some never even enter one’s conscious mind, but impact one’s life in ways big and small. Be it a 14-year old car-accident victim, a talented Gospel songwriter, or You, the role of life experiences, God’s Master Plan (for you), and each individual’s relationship with God are indisputable.
Stories: Told and Untold, Known & Unknown
“You don’t know my Story, all the things that I’ve been through”
We are each unique individuals. No two Christians, believers, or non-believers are exactly alike. Being uniquely made and uniquely developed, the stories which define you as an abiding Christian are like no one else’s. Moreover, each person is very likely uniquely situated as well. Consequently, everyone’s ‘Story Toolbox’ is filled differently. Scripture tells us that we are ‘wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:14), embody gifts from God that we should use to ‘minister to other’ (1 Peter 4:10), and are ‘God’s Masterpiece’ (Ephesians 2:10).
In light of the fact that we’re all different and distinct, it’s difficult to know another Christian’s life story. Until, as the saying goes, you have walked a mile in another man’s shoes, you can’t say you really know them.
- Steve Mueller, in a post on Developing Empathy (link) writes: “The earliest traces of the enlightening part of the proverb date back to the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans, who said “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes”. The proverb was put into wider use, he notes, by author Nelle Harper Lee, in her book To Kill a Mockingbird (J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960), where she wrote:
“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
What type of relationship lends itself best to rock-solid mutual understanding? I’d say that only long-married couples get close enough to potentially have a full grasp of another person’s (their spouse’s) true essence. Even there, given the ‘Men are from Mars, Woman are from Venus’ phenomena, gender differences will very likely make 100% mutual knowledge and understanding impossible. If you’re a married man, do you feel you know and understand everything about your lovely wife? If you’re a mother with two or more children, are they each unique individuals in spite of being raised in the same home?
While each Christian has several individual stories which define them, their Spiritual Growth (post) can be enhanced by many things, including:
- Telling their stories (e.g. testimonies and praise reports)
- Hearing the stories of others
- Studying the Holy Bible
The Bible has many stories and parables which help it’s readers know how God wants his children to behave and think. That said, at the highest level of spiritually maturity, one must develop spiritual discernment. How? On what is this based? One’s life experiences, one’s reflection on the stories which reflect those experiences, is what helps Christians navigate the ‘gray areas’ of life.
One of my favorite Bible stories can be found in Matthew 14 (v. 22 – 36). While all 12 of Jesus Christ’s hand-picked disciples were on the same rocking ship, only Peter had the trusting spirit to step off the ship – and walk on the water to Jesus! Only Peter did not perceive Jesus as a ghost to be afraid of. Peter walked on water; his fellow, fear-gripped disciples didn’t make a move! While Peter gets some criticism for getting distracted during his walk, the other 11 disciples never even left the ship to take a single step. Few Christians have perfect faith (post).
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