Stewardship of Your Story

The last few years has been a study for me in learning through pain, and this past Sunday my pastor added a new chapter in my notes.  If you want to hear the entire message, click here and listen to “Impact #3 Stewardship of Your Story.”  It is worth your time.

He asked the question, “What if God wants to use your pain to help others?”

We like to hide our failures so that we look the way we think people want us to look.  In the end we all end up hiding from each other, afraid to open up and get help when we need it.

The Scripture is full of examples of situations where people’s pain turned to salvation: Joseph saving his family after being sold as a slave, Abraham having to leave all he knew to go somewhere about which he knows nothing.  In Isaiah 53 we read that Christ’s pain was part of our redemption.

At a time when she was vulnerable, poor, a foreigner, and essentially a migrant worker, Ruth was working in Boaz’s fields.  Instead of exploiting her he had compassion on her.  Long story short they end up getting married and restoring the honor of her mother-in-law’s family.

Question: Where did Boaz learn to protect vulnerable women?

When the Israelites were preparing to attack Jericho, they sent in some spies.  Two of these spies got trapped and ended up escaping the authorities because a prostitute hid them.  Hmmm, what were they doing at the prostitute’s place?  But I digress . . .  In return the prostitute, Rahab, asks that she, her parents, and her brothers and sisters be spared when the Israelites attack.  The Israelites honored her request and Rahab went on to live with the Israelites.

Turns out she marries a man from the tribe of Judah.  His name was Salmon.  Their son was named . . you guessed it . . Boaz.  Boaz most likely learned to protect vulnerable women from his father, who married a prostitute and gave her honor back to her.

Check out Matthew 1 and you will find that Christ’s lineage goes through both Rahab and Ruth, two foreigners and one a prostitute.

Question: Would Boaz have learned the same lessons if Rahab had been afraid to live with the Israelites because of her reputation?

Pastor Ken’s point was this. If we have made it through our situation but keep it to ourselves, how will someone else in the same situation get encouragement?

Perhaps, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1, we are given comfort that we might comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received.  We can choose to hide our pain and be ashamed of it, or we can share it with others so that they can be encouraged and learn from it.

I was so grateful for my friend who was willing to share his painful story with me while I was going through separation and divorce.  He was such an encouragement to me.

Sharing the good things is easy, but sharing pain is something else altogether.  Do you have the courage to share your pain?

When have you been encouraged because someone shared their pain with you?  Have you been able to encourage someone else with your pain?

conception

Some time ago I started to view God primarily through his name of Creator.  I don’t know of anything in particular that pointed me in this direction, except that one day I believe God put the following concept into my head:  If God created everything when nothing existed; if God imagined everything with no initial idea to prompt him other than the goodness of his heart, then doesn’t that make him the ultimate creative?  And if I am creative and enjoy creating things, am I not embodying something which is at the core of who God is?
Light and dark: God’s idea.  Land and sea: God’s idea.  Man and woman: God’s idea again.
God also said that he made us “in his image.”  Much ink has been spilled and even wasted on this topic, but as I considered God’s innate creative nature, and as I considered the words of Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way where she says that everyone is creative, I came to the conclusion that at least one way in which we are “made in his image” is in that we are creative.
Adam named all of the animals.  Pretty creative, in my book.  Tubal Cain made the first musical instruments.  Hats off to him.  All examples of how we are made in the creative image of God.
Recently I was reading through Matthew and this idea took another vein.  The archangel Michael said to Joseph in regards to Mary’s pregnancy that “what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit – God – fathered Jesus through Mary without the help of a human father.  For me the formation and birth of a human life is one of the best reminders today of God’s creative power, because only he can create life.  Usually he does it through natural procreation between male and female, but here he went around that arrangement and fathered Jesus directly through the Spirit, making him 100% God but also 100% human.  Now THAT is creative.
I believe that God can “father” creative things or ideas in us every day just like he initiates life in a mother’s body.  Because God is by nature creative, and because as a Christian God lives in me, then I believe that if I am open to him God will put ideas into my mind, things “conceived by the Holy Spirit.”  He will breathe life into my mind through his creative movements.
We often call these movements “promptings” or “whispers” from God.  They are one and the same.  God conceives ideas and solutions in our hearts and minds when we are tuned in and listening closely to him.
Two months ago while I was preparing to lead worship God put an idea into my head of how to describe our spiritual walk when we do it our way rather than God’s way.  The next day, when I shared that example, many people connected with God through it.  God conceived life in my leadership, and I am grateful to him for it.
How about you?  What has happened in your life that might have been “conceived by the Holy Spirit?”  Put another way, What in your life has NOT been “conceived of the Holy Spirit?”