Human beings are wired for stories.
We relive and express our memories through story. After death, we live on in the stories of our loved ones. We think in stories because they provide a context for facts. When you get the magical alchemy of the living writer sharing the story, there is potential for transformation. Lives can be changed by storytelling.
There is a reason we hear fairy tales as children. They teach us values and morals. It is through story that we learn about our own identity. Neil Gaiman once said,
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
The stories we listen to are the stories that write our lives. If we want to change our lives, it begins with changing the stories we listen to.
Hebrews 11 presents us with the lives of some of the greatest heroes of faith who have ever lived. It is an anthology – a collection of stories. Alongside the expected stories (like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, and David), are the seemingly unheroic ones (like Rahab, Barak, and Gideon).
Still, the great Author saw their value. And He has never set the pen aside.
He continues to write our stories with the same dedication and care that He put into theirs. Join us in this series of articles as we explore the importance of our stories and of the One who continues to write them.
Ephesians 6:16 highlights one of the most important pieces of weaponry a Christian should carry:
”Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
When we think of the way the shield was used in battle, one of the most beautiful demonstrations was a Roman tactic. When fighting as a group, a phalanx of soldiers could position their shields so as to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (tortoise).
This is what faith does – when our stories and lives are joined to those who have come before us, we are linked to a heritage that cannot be easily overcome. We are joined with people who currently are a part of the faith but also with every single person who has come before us. When one of us struggles or falls, the others come around that person in their defense.
Sometimes we face situations we’ve never faced before. It’s in that moment that the enemy comes in like a flood and we don’t know what to do.
But then a story comes to mind – we remember what Abraham or Moses did in that situation. In these moments, our faith is to be joined to the faith of others. When our one shield combines with others, we position our faith around the body of believers and we can help one another. When someone among us is weak, we can shield them momentarily until they are strong enough to stand again.
Faith is our belief but it is also our identity.
Of all of the things it could be to us, how beautiful it is that faith is our shield.
Jim Robertson finally caught a glimpse of his son, Derek, as he positioned himself at the starting line.
Despite eight surgeries worth of injuries, Derek had qualified for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as one of the favorites and Jim was so proud.
A shot rang out and Derek ran fiercely, with Jim cheering him on.
Then it happened.
Just after the 250 meter mark, Derek fell to the ground, pain across his face, and watched his chances at gold fade into a cloud of dust. Still, he was determined to finish. Watching the agony that flashed across his son’s face with every broken hop, Jim fought his way through the crowds.
Others saw a defeated athlete but Jim saw a boy in need of his father. Making his way past security, he took his weeping son into his arms and whispered into his ear,
“Look, you don’t need to do this. You can stop now, you haven’t got nothing to prove.”
But Derek was determined and so Jim half-carried him for the remaining 100 meters, pushing away anyone who attempted to deter them.
65,000 onlookers rose to their feet in a standing ovation as father and son crossed the finish line.
Few people can name the man who won the 400 meter race that year but countless people have been inspired by the father who defied an arena’s authorities to wrap his weeping child in his arms, sharing his strength with him, so they could cross the finish line together.
It all started in a garden.
God and humanity walked together in the cool of the evening in beautiful relationship. They spoke and enjoyed an unlikely fellowship – one in which the divine and human entwined.
And then it happened.
Sin entered the world and that sacred bond was severed. But God still reached for His creation, establishing covenants and abiding with them through fire, cloud, and an Ark. Prophets represented God to the people and priests represented the people to God.
Still, the intimacy of Eden was lacking.
But God had a plan both to cleanse sin and to restore the broken relationship. He promised that His Spirit being poured out upon everyone around the world.
For years, humanity’s cry was met with the answer “not yet.” The wait ended on Pentecost Sunday when the Holy Spirit descended from heaven like fire upon the 120 who had obediently waited as Jesus had instructed. They spoke in languages they had never studied, proclaiming the praises of God to immigrants who had flooded the city for the Feast of Pentecost. With that moment a great revival began and the church turned the world upside down.
More importantly, God and humanity could once again enjoy a personal relationship.
Join us on Sunday, June 9, as we celebrate the day that promise was fulfilled – and continues to be fulfilled today.