A few summers ago on a blistering hot day, our family was visiting the battlefields of Gettysburg. Despite their best attempts our young girls were fading...fast. To be honest, so was I. The dates, times, statues and plaques were beginning to blur. Brian (father and passionate tour guide) was growing frustrated with our weakening spirits and wobbly legs. About that time, I overheard a "professional" tour guide telling a story about something that happened on that field. For a moment, I considered quietly slipping into his group but realized that Brian (my husband) might notice my absence from his smaller, wobbly following.
The "professional" reminded us of the power of story. For the rest of the afternoon we re-energized our captive band of kids with the power of story. We wove in the same information, but brought it to life with words like "billowing smoke", "Samuel, the grandfather", and "ripping the cloth pant leg." The power of story reconnected us to the truth...the truth of how important that place, those events, those people were to us.
I'm been reminded lately of the importance of seeing God's story in the places, events and people around me. God is at work. It is sacred and powerful and delicate and beautiful, if I can strengthen my weak spirit and wobbly legs long enough to see it. Some stories are happy in the moment, and some are very sad. Last week I went to the funeral of a close friend who lost their 5 day old granddaughter. As I got ready I anticipated the difficulty of seeing my friend, her family and interacting with the pain that was going to envelop me. What words would I say, what soothing could I bring? I had no answers.
And I was reminded that God is in this story. God, the risen Christ was already present in that funeral room. God anticipated my going to the funeral and, in fact, was already there waiting for me to come, to see what he was doing, what he was saying, to witness his presence in that place.
I am always coming in on something that is already going on. And I don't ever bring God to the story. He is already present. My place is to be alert and observant for what the risen Christ has been doing or saying that is making a gospel story out of this life. As I catch the story, I can be an appropriate part, the role that the Lord wants for me. The Holy Spirit will re-energize me and reconnect me to the truth.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, They comfort me." Ps. 23
What is God doing in your story? In the story of your small group?