Pigs Be Gone! Understanding the Power of Our Story
A couple of months ago I was invited by host Mark Cravens to be a guest on his Hope Along the Journey podcast, an episode that just debuted this morning. What a privilege and thrill it was. There is something about sharing my story that makes me feel very powerful, perhaps because I know there is power in my story.
Scripture backs me up on this. The power of sharing our story (not just mine) of God's grace is:
...predicted in Acts 1:8- "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses."
...commanded in Psalm 107: 2- "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so."
...declared in Romans 1:16- "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who has faith."
...affirmed in 1 John 5:10-11- "Those who believe in God have the testimony in their hearts.... And this is the testimony, God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his son." (What's more powerful than that?)
The only qualification to receive this power is our willingness of heart.
John 4 tells the story of Jesus speaking to someone whose description would have disqualified her from serving in any form of religious authority or esteem that day on at least four accounts: she was divorced, she was a woman, she was openly having sex outside of marriage, and she was a foreigner. Actually, in the eyes of many Jews, she was worse than a mere foreigner. She was a Samaritan, an embarrassing reminder of what resulted when the Israelites, the people of God, married pagans. Yet despite all of her infamy and shame, Jesus changed her. And sharing her singular story had the power to turn the hearts of the people all over that region to Christ.
Matthew 8 and Luke 8 tell about a quick trip that Jesus took to a neighboring nation across the Sea of Galilee. The trip was quick, because upon arrival Jesus healed a seriously possessed man who had enough demons in him to drive an entire heard of pigs into the lake. In addition to costing the local swineherds a ton of money, this terrified the people, and they immediately asked Jesus to leave. But that former demoniac stayed. And though his former possession was the only thing on his resume, his story had the power to compel people from all over that nation to the hope of Christ. When Jesus returned (Matthew 14), the same population that forced him out were now coming from all over to ask him for healing.
This story power does not just reside with those who have been dejected by society. The local synagogue leader had a powerful story of how Jesus raised his daughter from the dead (Matthew 9). The Italian military commander believed God in a way that even challenged and expanded the faith of Peter, the leader of the Christian church (Acts 10:10). The successful merchant Lydia received, believed and shared the message of Christ as spoken by Paul in the way that broke boundaries and established the first church in Europe (Acts 16).
When we seek to live for God and share God's goodness, there is no such thing as unqualified or weak. Everyone who serves the Lord has a powerful story of God's grace. Everyone who serves the Lord is a powerful story of God's grace. So let's not be afraid to share it.
*All Scripture quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
Click here to hear Karen's story in her interview with Mark Cravens on the Hope Along the Journey podcast.
Click here to order a copy of Karen's book, An Anointed Mess: Discovering the Daily Adventure of Grace.