This is part 2 of 2, in the series "Mapping Our Journey." You can read part 1 here.
Sitting around a campfire, watching the flames dance and the sparks rise into the night sky, you find yourself mesmerized by the flickering colors and the glow of the embers. Whether you're roasting a hotdog on a stick, toasting a marshmallow for s'mores, or just relaxing in the warmth of the burning logs, one or two things are bound to happen at some point. Either someone will start a song, perhaps with guitar accompaniment, or someone will tell a story.
Growing up, camping as a kid, teenager, and into adulthood, I've come to love these experiences of sitting around a fire at night and basking in the glow. I've enjoyed playing my guitar or mandolin along with others and singing familiar songs. I've listened as someone has told a story...maybe a scary story or an account of a childhood memory, or just a story of a hunting trip when they bagged the big one. Those stories are usually entertaining and captivating.
Stories have a way of getting hold of our attention and engaging us at the deepest levels. When our daughter was young, I would put her to bed and have prayer with her. I would sometimes read a book to her as well. But, one night I told her a story of when I was a little boy...my exploits of camping, building treehouses and exploring the woods. That was it...for a while, all I would hear from her for bedtime stories was, "Tell me a story about when you were a little boy, daddy."
Stories are powerful because they are about life...they share experiences and emotions and ideas. They often highlight values and principles that are important to us. They explore the human interest in the people they portray. Stories and storytelling are important in the history of humanity. Before mass literacy among people groups, storytelling was the only way to pass on the history of a people, their traditions, religious beliefs and their customs. Story continues to be a powerful medium of communication, building community and impacting lives. It is so important, that The International Storytelling Center was established to advance the power and possibilities of storytelling. Their vision states, "A well-told story can communicate truth, concept, or idea with immeasurable power."
In part one of this 2-part blog series, we saw the intentional "non-detour" detour that Jesus took to meet up with a scorned and isolated Samaritan woman who needed to hear about this "living water." This was the "water" He had to offer that would become in her a wellspring of eternal life (John 4:9-14). Their conversation led Jesus to respond to the woman's declaration, ""I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us"" (John 4:25). His response was, ""I, the one speaking to you--I am he"" (John 4:26). At this moment, as the disciples of Jesus were returning from their food run, the woman responded in a way that demonstrated her faith in Jesus as Messiah and that exhibited the power of story through the life of a follower of Christ.
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
Even as she was grappling with the truth of what Jesus had shared with her...considering her faith in his good news...she was telling her story. She went to the village and told the people, "Come and see." We see similar accounts of others who did the same thing...Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus. Philip introduced Nathaniel to Messiah. While the woman's experience..."[he] told me everything I ever did"...was the story, Jesus was at the center of her story. The result was astounding.
Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”
This unnamed Samaritan woman's story is included in the gospel because she was eager to tell her story and allow many others to hear and believe as well. Her faith was translated to the villagers because they were able to experience the truth of the Gospel message and believe for themselves. That is why, as I live a purposed life, sharing my story is a powerful way to make an impact on others.
Author Donald Miller wrote, "If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, “Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.”" (A Million Miles in a Thousand Miles)
This life is a gift from our Creator and we are called to live it in a way that brings glory to Him. Miller also wrote, "The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: life is a story about me." (Blue Like Jazz) Someone has said that we often look at the Bible like we do our high school yearbook. When we open it, we immediately go to the index, or scan the sections, to search and try to find ourselves in its pages. In reality, the primary objective of the Scriptures is to reveal God to us. We find our reflection in the pages, but our reflection is only there in between the bold manifestations of the God who created us and wants to give us the greatest gift ever provided...eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is why our story points others to Him. That is why we can have such a powerfully purposed life.
Observations About Our Purpose in the Example of the Samaritan Woman
We may not be sitting around a campfire, speaking at a national storytelling festival, or entertaining others with our interesting yarns. But, the life you are living is a story...that story matters in the larger context of God's story. When you share your story with others and it points them to the God who is at work in your life, you open the door for Him to work in their lives. That is a purpose worth living for.
Have you shared your story with others? How has God used it? Maybe you can start by writing down your story that describes how God has worked in your life. Share your thoughts and reactions in the comments. Thank you for reading! If you like our content, don't forget to LIKE and SHARE this post so that others may get involved in the community we want to build here!
With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!