During the past couple weeks, I've been spending a lot of my alone time with paper and pen, writing letters to my friends and family who support the work that I'm doing here. While it seems like the easier and more efficient thing to do is type up a general letter and change the names to make each one "personal," I just felt the need to really connect with each individual and share from my heart about the things I think they would care most about. After all, these are people who are investing a lot in me, and I want to invest in them too. So, a letter that could probably take ten minutes to jot down takes me on average 30-45 minutes. I smile as I think about each person and pray for them and imagine having a cup of tea with them. And I tell them stories... stories about the loveable characters in my life, stories about God's miraculous provision, stories about conversations and opportunities both solemn and hilarious.
I've also spent more time on Skype and on the phone with people, and guess how those times are spent? That's right, telling stories! Again, part of my organizer's brain is tempted to think that I've been wasting a lot of time. After all, if you ask me what I did all morning, I'd have to say I made a couple phone calls, talked on Skype, texted, and wrote two letters. ...Really? In four hours that's all I accomplished?! Yes. But no... not really. None of it is a waste - in fact, I'm beginning to realize it is a ministry in itself.
See, I have always loved stories. I love to read and be read to; I love good movies, good blogs, and good songs that are authentic and meaningful. My closest friends can tell you how much I love to get comfortable and randomly faux-demand, "Tell me a story!" and just wait for the poor soul to start, like a queen commanding a jester to perform... and I love it even more if the "poor soul" jumps right in without hesitation with the classic phrase, "Once upon a time..." I revel in hearing and telling stories, because through stories we learn more about people and life and God's bigger picture.
In studying English, writing, and literature, I've learned that it is much more valuable, much more rich, to give the reader/listener a story than to give him an adjective. For example, what if I just told you that Peter Pan was a little boy who never grew up? That's much easier and more convenient than reading the book... but in reading the book, you learn who he really was based on the things he said and did, the way he acted and interacted, and you cheer for him and fall in love with him and feel sorry for him and are charmed by him in a way you can't explain, unless you tell his stories.
Take this idea and apply it to the greatest character of all time, Jesus. I can tell you that he is love and peace and hope, and I can lay out the "Roman Road," or the "ABCs of salvation," and while these are solid and time-efficient, I'm not so sure that they are soul-sufficient. How much better is it to take the time to share the chapters of my life with you; to recall the times I've fallen and been lifted up again by his mercy; to testify to his faithfulness and provision in the hardest times; to tell and retell and retell again the miracles he's done - how he has healed me, body and soul, and put a song in my heart and joy on my face and breath in my lungs and strength in my voice and wisdom in my mind. I think as you hear these stories, you would really understand his love and peace and hope in a way that goes beyond those small English words.
Being a storyteller is part of my ministry, and I think it's part of yours too. Tell what Jesus has done for you and in you and through you. Share it with everyone - it's a beautiful story that is meant to be known and passed on, and the Father will receive the glory every time.